B-vitamins Defend the Liver From Arsenic Poisoning

Vitamin B12 and Folate may protect the liver by protecting DNA

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Dietary vitamins B12 and B9 (folate) have been shown to be liver-protective against liver-toxins. Repeated exposure to liver-toxins can lead to fatty liver disease, a fate that supplemental B vitamins may resolve.

It has been known for decades that vitamin B12 and folate mediate liver damage during poisoning from hepatotoxins (liver-poisons), such as carbon tetrachloride or arsenic. 

A recent study shines some light on the physiological effects of B-vitamins. In an animal study on rats they found that after arsenic poisoning, animals that had been eating a diet high in B12 and folate recovered faster, with fewer ill effects.

"Include folate and vitamin B12 rich foods in your diet."

This study was conducted at Vidyasagar University through their department of Biomedical Laboratory Science. Dr. Sandip Chattopadhyay Ph.D. Dr. Chattopadhyay concluded this study in 2010 and the journal Drug and Chemical Toxicology published the research in the January 2012 issue.

The research by Dr. Chattopadhyay shows that rats with high levels of stored vitamin B12 and folate have healthier livers after recovery from arsenic exposure.

The liver tissue of the vitamin-fed rats contained far less free radicals and a higher concentration of detoxification enzymes. Rats who were not fed fortified diets suffered from liver damage, as evidenced by the large number of free radical compounds found in the liver tissue of these rats.

From this evidence, Dr. Chattopadhyay concludes that the higher levels of B12 and folate protected the liver cells by supporting DNA replication, which in turn leads to more efficient enzyme synthesis.

The animals that did not have the vitamin rich diet were subject to far more organ damage and had slower recovery rates.

This Indian study contains data on the mechanism of folate and vitamin B12. Data like this can help doctors, patients, and everyday people make more nuanced decisions regarding dietary or nutritional strategies for dealing with liver toxicity or other issues.

People seeking healthier lives would benefit from diets rich in these micronutrients. Folate can be obtained from leafy vegetables like kale or spinach and many other plants. Vitamin B12 is found in meat or fish, with particularly high amounts in organ meat (liver, heart, sweetbreads), which also contains considerable amounts of folate.

Other vegan foods such as cereals, soy products and energy bars can be fortified with B12.

Because they concentrate toxins, organ meats should come from healthy, 100% grass fed animals.

This was an observational study, published in the January 2012 issue of Drug and Chemical Toxicology. There were no financial conflicts.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 10, 2012
Last Updated:
January 10, 2012