Taking reasonable amounts of milk thistle supplements is safe. However, how much does it take to reach the optimum effect of protecting and improving your liver function and health? When searching for the best milk thistle supplement, find one that binds silymarin to phosphatidylcholine, a member of the Lecithin group. This substance is proven to enhance milk thistle benefits up to ten times. This new form can also be easily absorbed by the body, providing more health benefits.
Because most milk thistle capsules and silymarin products are sold as herbal supplements, they are not subjected to the same strict standards imposed on synthetic drugs. The quality, safety and purity may vary from one brand to another. In rare circumstances, milk thistle pills can cause upset the stomach or cause joint pains and headaches. Silymarin is not prescribed for pregnant and nursing women. A dose of more than 1.5 grams per day may cause diarrhea due to its mild laxative property. As such, it is best to consult your health care provider or doctor before taking milk thistle supplements.
Milk thistle is available in numerous preparations today, but most are ineffective. Like other extracts and nutrients, silymarin has low bioavailability. The term bioavailability indicates how much of the compound ends up in the body’s bloodstream when taken orally. It also has to do with the ability of the body to absorb nutrients, drugs or compounds. When the drug is administered intravenously, it has 100% bioavailability, but when taken by mouth, only a fraction may reach the bloodstream without passing to the liver. Oftentimes, most compounds with low bioavailability are degraded by gastric juice. Due to this, milk thistle supplements manufacturers have found out that they should combine the extract with certain substances or compounds to increase its bioavailability.
There are two ways to increase the bioavailability of milk thistle. One is by means of enteric coating, allowing the nutrient to be absorbed completely in the upper intestine. There are milk thistle tablets sold today that are enteric-coated. The second way is the use of an appropriate combination of compounds or nutrients. When talking about silymarin, the most suitable co-nutrient is phosphatidylcholine, which increases the bioavailability of silymarin by ten times.
Besides increasing the bioavailability of silymarin, phosphatidylcholine also has a number of benefits. It aids in lowering cholesterol and prevents build-up of fat deposits in the arteries. This can be attributed to its high linoleic acid content, which is an essential healthy form of fatty acid. It is also a co-factor needed to produce acetylcholine, which is important in transmitting nerve signals. Low levels of acetylcholine may lead to depression and anxiety.
If phosphatidylcholine is combined in milk thistle supplements, the suggested dose is 100 mg per day. Of course, the best supplement will be a combination of various ingredients, including vitamins and minerals. Other important nutrients for liver health include choline, n-acetyl cysteine and selenium. If taken alone, milk thistle may enhance liver health but when taken with combined nutrients, it can greatly improve overall health.