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VIT & SUPPLEMENTS

ANTIOXIDANT SUPPLEMENTS FOR LIVER DISEASE

Beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E cannot be recommended for treatment of liver diseases.

An imbalance between too much oxidative stress and too little antioxidative defence has been suggested to cause a variety of liver diseases. Therefore, antioxidant supplements (beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium) could have a potential role in patients with liver disease. The evidence on whether antioxidant supplements are effective in treatment of liver diseases is contradictory.

In this review treatment with antioxidant supplements of alcoholic, autoimmune, hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus liver diseases, or liver cirrhosis is assessed. The review includes 20 randomised clinical trials. In total, 1225 participants were randomised to antioxidant supplements (beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium) versus placebo or no intervention. The low number of randomised participants increases the risk of random errors (‘play of chance’). Trial quality was low and accordingly the risk of systematic errors (‘bias’) was high.

Based on the conducted randomised clinical trials, convincing evidence that beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E or their combinations are beneficial for treatment of alcoholic, autoimmune, hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus liver diseases, or liver cirrhosis could not be found. —Cochrane March 2011

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