Did You Say Lover or Liver?

By Ava Frick, DVM


February is the month we think of hearts and loving each other.  If you really love your animals you want to show them your love by helping them via their liver.  The liver has many jobs that focus on metabolic pathways and synthesizing molecules that are utilized in other parts of the body to support homeostasis and energy balance.   Some of the main areas of function are associated with carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism, prevention of allergies, and the formation of hormone precursors.   Hepatocytes, the liver cells, concentrate and house vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to help it do its many tasks.

Carbohydrate metabolism is the extraction and maintenance of glucose.  Blood level of glucose is kept within a narrow normal range by the work of the liver.  When an animal has not eaten for several hours the hepatocytes activate specific groups of enzymes to synthesize glucose out of amino acids and other carbohydrates.  The capacity to do this is very important in carnivores and omnivores where starch consumption is devoid or at a minimum.

Protein metabolism converts amino acids to glucose or lipids via the use of enzymes.  Hepatocytes are responsible for synthesis of most of the plasma proteins.  Albumin, the major plasma protein, is synthesized almost exclusively by the liver.  Clotting factors necessary for blood coagulation are also synthesized by the liver in the presence of adequate vitamins and minerals.

Lipid metabolism in the liver involves oxidizing triglycerides to produce energy.  Triglycerides are the form of fatty acids, which are stored in adipose tissue.  These, by the way, are constantly changing.  Fat deposits are not the same now as they were a month ago.   The liver also synthesizes large quantities of cholesterol and phospholipids for its use by the body.  Excess is excreted in bile as cholesterol or is converted to bile acids.  Removing ammonia and other toxins from the body is yet another job of the liver.

The liver and gallbladder work together.   The bile acids, which are critical for digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in the small intestine, are stored in the gall bladder.  Many waste products are eliminated from the body by secretion into bile and elimination in feces.   Without a gall bladder a body will accumulate cholesterol and toxins.  (Note: Neither rats or horses have a gall bladder)

In the 1920’s Japanese researchers discovered what they called Yakriton.  Yakriton is a liver substance, which acts in the body like a prehistamine.  This circulates and if the body is exposed to a foreign protein yakriton subdues it such that there is no perceptible reaction.  When one has “allergies” this is an indication that either the liver is not producing enough of this substance or that there is currently and overwhelming exposure.   Either way, the liver needs nutritional support.

Helping ease the stress on your animal’s liver includes:

Feeding an archetype diet.  Archetype is what most closely resembles food sources that a species was designed to eat in nature.  For carnivores and omnivores this includes liver and cuts out processed refined diets along with the carbs!

Determining if adequate minerals and vitamins are available for this animal’s liver to function properly.  In some breeds and conditions vitamins and minerals may be inadequate.  The use of synthetic or chemical vitamins can also lead to deficiency states.  Whole food vitamin E, zinc, choline, inositol, and other B vitamins can optimize liver function.

Fur analysis is a simple way to determine if mineral deficiency or excess is present.

Reduce the amount of toxins and drugs they are exposed to.  Everything put in or on the body becomes a job for the liver.  Many chemicals will usurp storage of vitamins, depleting what is available for body function.  Avoid toxins whenever possible.

Love the liver.  Support the liver.  Have a friend to love for a longer time.

For more information contact Dr. Frick at 636-583-1700 or visit www.avafrick.com.