Protect your liver and your overall health with this indispensible B vitamin

Shadow epidemic

The next time you’re in a crowded space — at the mall filled with holiday shoppers, at a football game, in a busy restaurant — take a look around and consider this: In the people you’re observing, about one in every four has a disease called NAFLD.

Even more disturbing — most of them have no idea they have it because they have no symptoms. In fact, most of them have probably never even heard of it.

And finally, what’s MOST disturbing, is that you might be included in that one-in-four. And that’s no small matter, because full blown NAFLD sharply increases risk of type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, and heart disease.

That’s pretty daunting. But there are two things you can do to avoid NAFLD, or — if you already have it — reverse it’s progression.

The true epidemic

NAFLD is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

It begins slowly, as fat accumulation in the liver. Then it becomes complicated by inflammation. Then liver scar tissue develops. Beyond that, the disease can play out in a number of different ways, as I mentioned above — all of them potentially deadly.

Fatty liver disease was thought to be strictly a disease of alcoholism for most of the 20th century. But when obesity was first recognized as a mounting problem in the 1970s, doctors began to make the obesity/FLD connection and eventually added the designation of “nonalcoholic.”

This is the true epidemic behind the obesity “epidemic.”

In a recent study, researchers tested vitamin E and metformin (a diabetes drug) on patients with NAFLD. Neither the drug nor the vitamin supplement had much effect.

Dr. Spreen sent me that study along with this note: “The nutrient CURE for non-alcoholic fatty liver has been known for over 80 years, and it was discovered during conventional diabetes research! So, anyone wanting to study something really legitimate along this line could have done a 10-second Medline search and come up with the prime nutrient candidate (which is a member of the B-complex family, not E).”

That B-family “prime nutrient candidate” is choline.

One of the best sources of choline is egg yolks. And, of course, for many years, mainstream nutritionists went mad and foolishly equated eggs with poison because they contained cholesterol. So while millions of people avoided eggs for a couple of decades, quite a few people became obese — ironically avoiding the very food that could help curb obesity-driven NAFLD.

Along with that vitamin E study, Dr. Spreen included a recent article published by the Weston A. Price Foundation. In the article, Chris Masterjohn calls NAFLD an epidemic of nutritional imbalance.

He writes: “It is likely caused by the overabundance of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor refined foods and the banishment of traditional sources of choline like liver and egg yolks from the modern American menu.”

In addition to reducing NAFLD risk, choline also checks the rise of homocysteine (the amino acid that promotes artery plaque buildup), facilitates memory storage, muscle control, and kidney function, prevents fatigue and insomnia, and helps maintain healthy cell membranes.

Your multivitamin may contain choline — many do — but chances are the dose doesn’t approach the recommended adequate intake of 425 mg per day for women and 550 mg per day for men.

But increasing your intake of choline is simple. Just eat more foods that contain the vitamin.

In addition to eggs and liver, choline is also found in wheat germ, cod, salmon, broccoli, bacon, shrimp, pistachios, Brussels sprouts, and flaxseed.

Much less simple, but just as important, is the required change in eating habits — cutting back on calorie-rich, nutrient-poor refined foods.

“Effect of Vitamin E or Metformin for Treatment of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Children and Adolescents” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 305, No. 16, 4/27/11,

“A Silent Epidemic of Nutritional Imbalance” Chris Masterjohn, Weston A. Price Foundation, 4/1/11,

Get urgent health alerts, warnings and insights delivered straight to your inbox