Liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver have been marketed as nutritional supplements for over a century. They are principally used as a source of heme iron (see Iron).
Liver hydrolysate is typically prepared from bovine liver by partial enzymatic hydrolysis and processed to remove most of the fat and cholesterol. Desiccated liver is typically prepared by a freeze-drying process and retains fat and cholesterol. Liver hydrolysate is also known as liver extract and liquid liver extract.
ACTIONS AND PHARMACOLOGY
Liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver may have hematinic activity. Liver hydrolysate has putative hepatoprotective activity.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
Hematinic activity refers to the ability of a substance to improve the quality of the blood, including the hemoglobin level and the number of erythrocytes. Liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver contain heme iron, an absorbable form of iron, which may promote the production of hemoglobin.
The putative hepatoprotective activity of liver hydrolysate is unknown.
The components of liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver are digested, absorbed and metabolized by normal physiological processes.
INDICATIONS AND USAGE
Claims are made that liver supplements improve fat metabolism, impart energy, help damaged tissues regenerate and protect the liver. There is no credible evidence to support any of these claims.
CONTRAINDICATIONS, PRECAUTIONS, ADVERSE REACTIONS
Liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver are contraindicated in those who are hypersensitive to any component of a liver hydrolysate- or desiccated liver-containing supplement.
Liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver supplements should be avoided by pregnant women, nursing mothers and children.
Those with hemochromatosis, sickle cell anemia, sideoblastic anemia and thalassemia should be extremely cautious in the use of liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver supplements.
Those who receive frequent blood transfusions and those with chronic liver failure should be extremely cautious in the use of liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver supplements.
The treatment of iron-deficiency anemia should be under the advice and supervision of a physician. Liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver are not standard treatments for iron-deficiency anemia.
f Heme iron is unlikely to have the types of drug interactions that iron salts do (see Iron).
f Heme iron in liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver may be additive to the effects of iron supplements.
DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION
There are several forms of liver hydrolysate and desiccated liver that are marketed as nutritional supplements. There are no typical doses of these supplements.