Vitamin A: Why Everyone Should Be Eating Liver

Many of us, especially kids, are unable to use beta-carotine from veggies or pills: Pasture raised meats to the rescue!

Posted on Dec 10, 2015 by Jack McCann
Tags: newsletter article health

We know some people LOVE beef liver. 

Others hate it. 

Most are scared to try. 

But there really isn’t another more nutrient-dense food. Here is just one of the myriad of reasons to eat liver or other pasture raised meats: vitamin A.

If you have some of these seemingly unrelated symptoms, it could be because you’re deficient in vitamin A:

  • Eye problems: poor night vision, corneas, dry eyes (Vitamin A deficiency is #1 cause of blindness)
  • Sick more often or colds linger longer than they should / respiratory infection / UTI (do your kids seem sick all the time?)
  • Dry skin or hair / broken fingernails

Liver is nature’s most concentrated source of vitamin A. 

Sure you'll get extra vitamin A in pasture-raised meats, but liver has a super high concentration. 

Vitamin A is a critical vitamin for our body to function and was the first fat-soluble vitamin to be discovered. Vegetables and multi-vitamins give us beta-carotene, which some people’s bodies can use to make vitamin A, but it is not actually a complete, functional vitamin and thus is useless unless your body happens to convert it well (50% of us don’t).

Natural, useful vitamin A is only in animal fats, and then only in significant concentrations in animals that graze on pasture and convert the carotenes found in green grass and legumes into vitamin A.

If you are a child, have diabetes or thyroid issue, consume too much fortified iron, or simply live in a cold weather climate, you probably have less or no ability to convert vegetable based beta-carotene into the critical nutrient that is vitamin A. This means eating carrots or taking a beta-carotene pill isn’t going to help.

Nearly half of us are unable to effectively make this conversion. Those who aren’t able and also aren’t eating pasture raised meats and liver, are at risk for having a deficiency in vitamin A. Want to learn more? The Weston Price Foundation had a great summary called The Vitamin A Saga

Yuk! I still can’t imagine eating liver. What should I do?

First, try our pate’ recipe, chicken pate’ is truly fantastic.

We try to make our hotdogs with a small amount of liver to get these benefits to kids who really need it most. (Although I love our hotdogs and generally hate other hotdogs).

Traditionally beef liver is made by caramelizing onions in a lot of butter... adding in some mushrooms if desired. Garlic is nice to add towards the end. Then whatever herbs: thyme, mint, rosemary ... We also like some good balsamic vinegar on top and of course some nice salt. The liver needs to be seared, but still medium rare or rare inside. It frankly tastes terrible if cooked all the way through or even medium-well.

If you don't love eating the liver in this way, our best advice is to puree the liver in a food processor and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then, anytime you make a dish with ground beef (chili, burgers, stews), add a cube or two of the liver. This is a great way to get the nutrients without eating a big meal of it. You really won’t taste it in there. In fact, at those small amounts, it adds a nice rich undertone to the dish. One subscriber told us that they were busy when making burgers and forgot to add the liver like they normally do. Their kids (and husband) all asked what was wrong with the burgers because they tasted so ‘flat’ in comparison to what they were used to.

We've also heard others say they chop the liver into pill size, re-freeze and just swallow a few as if it were a daily vitamin. 

If you'd like to order liver, request one of our traditional food boxes with your next order. I recommend the Chicken Traditional Food box as a first try. 

For more information on liver's benefits, Wellness Mama has a great article on the health benefits of organ meats...

Comments (2)

  1. Lilli:
    Jan 14, 2016 at 09:34 AM

    Would you ever consider selling Pate like you sell deli meats? We would try it, but not sure about making it. Thanks!

  2. Jack McCann:
    Jan 14, 2016 at 10:44 AM

    Thanks for the question! I would consider selling pate' -- The family that we collaborate with to do all of our processing asked if we wanted to. However, I think that we'd have a hard time caramelizing that many onions, which totally makes this dish. This is easy to do at home but takes time just waiting for them to caramelize. If you buy pate' in the store, it probably has fresh onions in there and I don't think it is as good. I have a hard time offering a product if I don't think it is the best it can be. If you have a food processor, it is really quite easy to do, We just got the nicer immersion blender on that article and the food processor with that is ideal for this. It is smaller, but still powerful. I am really happy with it. (or click 'news' and then 'cooking tools'

    Let me know if you try it out, I'd love to hear how it went for you!

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