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Can D increase antioxidants in the liver?

Posted on: September 6, 2012   by  John Cannell, MD

Can D increase antioxidants in the liver?


Glutathione is a “master” antioxidant in your body, far outstripping the importance of any antioxidant you can take by mouth. It has multiple functions:

  1. It is the major natural antioxidant produced by the cells, participating directly in the neutralization of free radicals, toxins and reactive oxygen species (products of combustion in your body), as well as maintaining the effectiveness of antioxidants you get in your diet or take by mouth such as  vitamins C and E.
  2. It regulates nitric oxide, which is deadly if unregulated.
  3. It is important in DNA synthesis and repair, protein synthesis, prostaglandin synthesis, detoxification, and enzyme activation. Thus, glutathione affects every system in the body, especially the immune system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and the lungs.
  4. It is vital for iron metabolism. Cells depleted of glutathione show iron starvation and impairment of the enzymatic activity reliant on iron with rapid death following.

A study out this year by Dr. Zine Kechrid and colleagues showed that vitamin D supplementation in rats dramatically increased the amount of glutathione in the liver. The Vitamin D supplemented rats tripled the amount of liver glutathione over the vitamin D deficient rats.

Kechrid Z, Hamdi M, Nazıroğlu M, Flores-Arce M. Biol Trace Elem Res. Vitamin D Supplementation Modulates Blood and Tissue Zinc, Liver Glutathione and Blood Biochemical Parameters in Diabetic Rats on a Zinc-Deficient Diet.2012 Mar 14. [Epub ahead of print]

We know the liver is the major site of detoxification and antioxidant activity, so certainly these finding portend well for vitamin D sufficient patients with liver disease. We also know that vitamin D increases glutathione in the brain, where it functions as listed above, portending well for those with brain disease.

In addition, the Kechrid study showed the importance of taking zinc together with vitamin D, as zinc deficient rats given vitamin D did not make as much glutathione as zinc sufficient rats. The incidence of low zinc intake in the world and its importance to the human body is enormous.

Prasad AS. Discovery of human zinc deficiency: 50 years later. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2012 Jun;26(2-3):66-9. Epub 2012 Jun 2.

That’s why we recommend that you take at least 10 mg of zinc with your vitamin D, such as contained in the Vitamin D Council’s approved D-Plus.

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