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The #1 Vitamin for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, New Study Suggests

This once a day vitamin can have a big impact.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

If you're aware of what non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is, that may be because you are one of the 25% of people around the world who deals with it, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It's also something that people of all ages and races may face. The cause of potential pain in your midsection, this discomfort can be traced back to the inflammation that is associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fortunately, a new study has found that a certain vitamin can help with that inflammation.

In a study that was recently published in the Journal of Hepatology, a team from Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore used both vitamin B12 and folate to look at the effect they had on non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The results showed a reduction in both inflammation and scarring caused by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as a reduction in the progression of the disease when taking vitamin B12 and folate supplements.

"Our findings are both exciting and important because they suggest that a relatively inexpensive therapy, vitamin B12 and folic acid, could be used to prevent and/or delay the progression of NASH," said study investigator Brijesh Singh, PhD, with Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, via ScienceDaily.

How can vitamin B12 and folate help with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?

liver disease

"Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a build-up of fat in the liver that is not caused by alcohol use. In some people, this causes inflammation and, ultimately, scarring in the more serious subtype of NAFLD, called NASH," Leann Poston MD, MBA, MEd, of Invigor Medical, tells Eat This, Not That!. Dr. Poston explains that as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progresses, "healthy liver cells are replaced with scar tissue."

She also notes that a "recent clinical study found the underlying cause of NASH is when syntaxin 17 is degraded and prevented from removing these dead and damaged cells."

Syntaxin 17 is a protein whose role is to transport and digest fat, which supports healthy energy metabolism and inflammation prevention. In those with NASH, syntaxin 17 is prevented from doing its job.

When it comes to how vitamin B12 and folate help when it comes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease-related inflammation and scarring, Dr. Poston explains that they "increase syntaxin 17 levels restoring its function, which reverses liver inflammation and scarring."

If you would like to increase the amount of B12 and folate that you're getting in your diet, Dr. Polson says that the former "is found in meat, fish, and dairy products," while the latter can be "found in eggs, legumes, and green leafy vegetables."

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée