A new study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, found that vitamin B12 and folic acid supplements might be able to reverse advanced stages of fatty liver disease (1).
You might not know what fatty liver disease is, but odds are you or someone you know is living with it. Approximately 25 to 30 percent of adults in the US and Europe have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (2).
Below, we answer what NAFLD is, and how vitamin B12 can help.
What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?
As the name suggests, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has nothing to do with alcohol. It’s an umbrella term for a range of conditions that have one thing in common: a build-up of fat in the liver.
The disease is more common in people with certain conditions like obesity and type 2 diabetes. It’s possible to reverse fat deposition in the early stages of NALFD, but advanced stages of the disease like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) can cause liver dysfunction, cirrhosis, and an increased risk for liver cancer.
What Causes Fatty Liver Disease?
Prior to the study, scientists understood non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was linked to elevated levels of blood homocysteine.
Homocysteine is an amino acid broken down by vitamins B12 and B6, and folate. Higher levels of homocysteine may be a sign of vitamin deficiency, and B12 deficiency is linked to NAFLD (3).
The researchers found that as liver homocysteine levels increased, the amino acid attached to various liver proteins and changed their structure and function.
In particular, when homocysteine attached to a protein called syntaxin 17, it blocked the protein from performing its role in transporting and digesting fat and preventing inflammation—the very process which scientists now believe to be responsible for the progression of fatty liver disease to NASH.
Vitamin B12 for Fatty Liver Disease
The researchers also found that supplementing with vitamin B12 and folic acid increased levels of syntaxin 17 in the liver, restoring its role of digesting fat and protecting against inflammation.
Vitamin B12 supplementation also slowed NASH progression and reversed liver inflammation and fibrosis.
“Our findings are exciting because they suggest an inexpensive therapy, vitamin B12, and folic acid, could be used to prevent or delay the progression of NASH,” says study co-author Dr. Brijesh Singh.
Interested in B12 supplementation? You can work with Hone to see if B12 injections are right for you. Simply create an account, then describe your symptoms using Hone’s online form. A board-certified physician will review your answers, and prescribe B12 shots if needed. Once your prescription is approved, B12 injections will be sent straight to your door.
What Are Other Treatments for Fatty Liver Disease?
Since there are no current pharmacological treatments for NAFLD, the most common therapies include making lifestyle changes like consistent exercise and eating a healthier diet.
As far as other supplements and vitamins, cell death in the liver may be exacerbated by a deficiency in antioxidants, including glutathione. Some small studies have shown glutathione supplementation could be a promising treatment for fatty liver disease (4), but more research is needed to confirm.
Intravenous glutathione supplements like IV or injections are the gold standard since some benefits can be lost during digestion.
You can also work with Hone to see if Glutathione injections are right for you. The process is similar to getting a B12 subscription. Once prescribed, glutathione injections will be sent straight to your home, so you can get up and running without missing a beat.