Diet by tea or diet by pills?


Credit: Flickr
Credit: Flickr

A link between green-tea based dietary supplements and drug-induced liver damage has been found in a recent study.

With an increasing demand for the perfect body shape and the appearance of the triple zero clothes size, many are increasingly turning to pills and supplements as a means to shed any excess weight. It’s not just women who are under pressure to achieve the perfect waistline, as magazines like ‘Men’s Fitness’ also endorse dieting pills.

Professor Lambert of Pennsylvania State University has shown in a new paper that taking green tea supplements can result in oxidative stress leading to liver injury.

Green tea supplements are attractive to some as they deliver an equivalent dose of green tea components much more quickly and in a far smaller volume than the traditional beverage form. Why drink litres of green tea a day when you can pop one pill?

“No person can sit down and drink 16 cups of tea all at once,” says Professor Lambert. “However, if you take a supplement you can get that type of green tea extract dose, so there is some indication that the dosage form has an influence on the potential to cause liver toxicity.”

The study involved giving two groups of mice high doses of green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). The given dosage was equal to what is found in some green tea supplement pills taken by humans.

The first group of mice were fed low doses of EGCG for two weeks prior to receiving the high dosage and the second group were only given the high dosage. Blood tests were taken each day in order to assess liver function. It was found that the mice that were given high doses of EGCG had up to 75% more liver damage due to toxicity than the pre-treated mice.

The results of this study highlight that, before taking green tea supplements, we should consider drinking green tea for several weeks in order to reduce side effects and protect our livers. Those who are regular green tea consumers will less sensitive to possible liver toxicity from green tea supplements.

Rebekah Kells

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