Because we are exposed to an ever-increasing number of toxins in our food as well as our environment, the immune system can become overloaded with toxins. When this happens, illnesses are more likely to develop.
The liver, the largest organ in the body, is responsible for keeping the blood clean and neutralizing toxic substances. It can be viewed as a filter that neutralizes toxic substances so that they can safely be excreted from the body.
There are two pathways that the liver utilizes; these are known as the phase 1 and phase 2 pathways. Each of these pathways is crucial for keeping the body safe from toxic chemicals.
The phase 1 liver detoxification pathway is dependent on a variety of enzymes that alter a toxic substance in order to make it less harmful. This pathway requires antioxidants in order to ensure that the toxic chemicals do not damage the liver. The antioxidants involved include vitamins A, C, and E.
Other nutrients important for phase 1 detoxification include vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, and folic acid. Too many toxins can overwhelm this system and lead to liver damage.
Once the phase 1 reactions are completed, the altered chemical agents go through phase 2 detoxification. Phase 2 detoxification is required to make the substance water-soluble for excretion in the urine or the bile.
Both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification pathways are dependent on numerous nutrients in order to function appropriately. When the body is deficient in the basic raw materials, liver detoxification does not function optimally.
Phase 2 detoxification pathways require optimal sulfation (the addition of sulfate to another molecule) and methylation (addition of a methyl group to another molecule) to function optimally.
A good source of sulfur for this pathway is methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which also supplies a methyl group that is required in phase 2 detoxification. I recommend 4,000 mg per day of MSM.
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