Liver extract is a dietary supplement made from animal liver, usually pig or cow, and is commonly sold either as a freeze-dried powder or a concentrated liquid. It contains vitamin B12, folic acid and iron, and is often marketed as a natural iron supplement or as a remedy for various liver problems. Scientific studies on humans show that liver extract can help boost iron levels as well as the number of red blood cells. Its use for other purposes such as improving liver function, treating allergies and chronic fatigue syndrome, increasing muscle development, and improving physical performance have not been scientifically proven. There is no recommended daily dosage for this supplement, and it is advisable to consult a health care professional before taking it.
Liver extract supplements are sometimes recommended as a natural remedy to treat chronic liver diseases, improve liver function and prevent liver damage. Tests on animals indicate that it can increase the number of liver cells, but this effect has not been proven in humans. This supplement is also used by some to improve stamina, strength and endurance, detoxify the body or overcome chemical addiction, but there is insufficient evidence to support its use for these purposes. Scientific studies are being done to determine if liver extract can help treat conditions like cancer, hepatitis C and viral infections. However, more research is needed to determine the safety and effectiveness of these treatments.
Possible side effects of taking liver extract include nausea, vomiting, liver lesions and blood clotting changes. If taken in excess, it can lead to hemochromatosis, an iron overload disease that can damage internal organs. People with iron metabolism disorders should avoid taking it because it can worsen their condition. There has been some concern that the animal liver used to make this supplement could be infected with and transmit parasites, bacteria or bovine spongiform encephalitis, also known as BSE or mad cow disease. However, there are no known cases of these infections being transmitted to humans this way.
Liver extract can be an effective iron supplement, but there is not enough scientific evidence to support its use for other purposes. The appropriate daily dosage can vary greatly depending on many factors, and a physician or other health care provider should be consulted before one tries this supplement. Pregnant or nursing women and those suffering from clotting disorders or abnormal iron levels should be cautious about taking liver extract.