Health Benefits of Liver

Ok, so one of my all time favorite treats is homemade Liver Pate. Did you know that liver is packed full of nutrients that support blood building as well as energy? Let’s unpack this delicious goodness and see how it can support your metabolism and even detoxification.

Scroll down to see the recipe.

Let’s look at the nutrient breakdown of beef vs chicken liver seeing how that is one of the most common questions I get. To keep life simple, I made this table so you can determine which one is right for you. Or if you’re like me, you might prefer one flavor over the other, in which case the nutrient breakdown can help you balance your intake if you’re a bit high in one vs the other nutrients based on labs or if you’re already taking a supplement.

Nutrients breakdown of liver/100g (pan fried)

Beef Liver%DVChicken Liver%DV
Calories1759%1729%
Carbs5.2g2%1.1g0%
Fat4.7g7%6.4g10%
Protein26.5g53%25.8g52%
Vitamin A26,091IU522%14,378IU288%
Vitamin C0.7mg1%2.7mg5%
Vitamin E0.5mg2%0.8mg4%
Vitamin K3.9mcg5%0.0mcg
Thiamin (B1)0.2mg12%0.3mg19%
Riboflavin (B2)3.4mg201%2.3mg136%
Niacin (B3)17.5mg87%13.9mg70%
Vitamin B61.0mg51%0.8mcg42%
Folate (B9)260mcg65%560mcg140%
Vitamin B1283.1mcg1386%21.1mcg352%
Pantothenic Acid (B5)6.9mg69%8.3mg83%
Choline418mg327mg
Iron6.2mg34%12.9mg72%
Magnesium22.0mg5%27.0mg7%
Phosphorus485mg48%442mcg44%
Potassium351mg10%315mg9%
Zinc5.2mg35%4.0mg27%
Copper14.6mg730%0.5mg27%
Selenium 32.8mcg47%88.2mcg126%
%DV – Percent Daily Value based on a 2000cal diet. For more info go to nutritiondata.self or follow the links in the heading above.

Now, let’s look at some the individual nutrients briefly and see how they may benefit us:

  • Vitamin A – Is a fat soluble vitamin. Vitamin A is very important for eye sight and can prevent night blindness and age related vision decline. This nutrient is also anti-viral (win days past high dose vitamin A was used treat measles). It supports healthy immune function. Supports a healthy intestinal lining. Vitamin A can improve Acne. And it plays a role in growth and reproduction. Of note, too much Vitamin A can cause problems as well. Hypervitaminosis A is a real thing. Taking too much during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
  • Vitamin K – Another fat soluble vitamin. And yes, there are two types Vitamin K1 (more related to blood clotting) and Vitamin K2 (more related to bone building). Fun fact the “K” comes from its original German name “Koagulationsvitamin,” meaning coagulation vitamin :). The vitamin K found in liver is mostly K2. Whereas leafy greens have more K1. It may improve blood pressure (lower) by preventing mineral deposition in blood vessels. And you may not know this, but it also plays an important role in bone building and therefore preventing osteopenia/osteoprosis. In short Vitamin K helps move calcium from the blood stream to the bones, where it’s supposed to be.
  • B Vitamins – All help the body break down carbs, proteins, and fats and utilize them as energy. Now to some specifics on the B vitamins.
  • Thiamin – Also known as Vitamin B1. This nutrient is super important for brain function. Thiamine deficiency may lead to confusion, visual disturbances, irritability, difficulty with short term memory, racing heart, as well as coordination problems.
  • Riboflavin – Known as Vitamin B2, it functions in oxygen use throughout the body. Additionally it is important for healthy intestinal lining, skin function, and blood cell production. Deficiency can contribute to angular stomatitis (those lesions in the corners of the mouth), cheilosis (swollen and cracked lips), hard loss, sore throat, itchy red eyes, as well as liver and nervous system dysfunction. In severe deficiency cataracts may develop.
  • Niacin – Vitamin B3. The vitamin many of use know as part of a good detox or cardiovascular protocol. The “flushing” vitamin. Niacin can help with cholesterol control, lowering blood pressure, improving skin (probably via supporting detoxification), improve migraines, and improve digestive tract health. It can even potentially improve erectile dysfunction at least those who also have dyslipidemia.
  • Vitamin B6 – Also known as Pyridoxine, this nutrient can help improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression (you need therapeutic doses for this effect) as well as improve PMS symptoms. It promotes brain health and can reduce risks of alzheimer’s dementia. B6 aids in proper hemoglobin production. Helps with nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnancy. Again, if you are pregnant less is more when it comes to beef liver. A little occasionally is probably fine, higher amounts, because of the vitamin A, is probably a bad idea. Discuss with your doctor to see if this is a good source of nutrients for you. With this nutrients I’ve see na lot of excess in practice and excess can lead to neuropathy i.e. nerve pain. Make sure you have this tested if you are taking B6 for prolonged periods of time. Excess and deficiency cause similar symptoms.
  • Folate – You may know this as Vitamin B9. Folate is very important in the production of DNA and RNA, which are both types of genetic material. You may have heard of deficiency leading to birth defects such as spina bifida and cleft palate. Folate along with B12 and iron is important in the formation of red blood cells as well as for tissue growth & cell function.
  • Vitamin B12 – Most of you probably know B12 as the “energy boosting” vitamin. Additionally it is helpful in improving memory and preventing heart disease. It is important in the formation of red blood cells (with B9+iron, amongst others), and the health of nerve cells. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause some types of anemia (megaloblastic) leading to symptoms of fatigue and headache amongst others. More deficiency symptoms include mouth ulcers, vision disturbances, irritability, depression, sore and red tongue, and poor memory.
  • Pantothenic Acid – Also known as Vitamin B5, is necessary for making red blood cells (most B vitamins are in some way shape or form involved in red blood cell production as you may have noticed). You may see this in a lot of hair care products, and as you guessed it, it can help with hair health. Deficiency of this nutrient can cause symptoms such as headaches, irritability, sleep disturbances, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscle cramping, numbness/burning in hands or feet, as well as fatigue.
  • Choline – This nutrient is important for liver function (probably why we find it in liver) as well as muscle function and your nervous system. It helps regulate memory, mood, and muscle function/control. Choline is essential to form the membranes around each and every one of your cells. Deficiency symptoms include mood disturbances such as anxiety/restlessness, fatty liver disease, muscle damage, and even cancer. If mom is deficient during pregnancy there may be an increased risk of birth defects and cognitive impairment. Again, if you’re pregnant check with your doctor on how to best get this nutrient in your dietary intake.
  • Iron – Many people know this nutrient to be very important for hemoglobin/red blood cell production. Which is a very important role. But, did you know – your body utilizes iron in the formation of thyroid hormones. And, that iron molecules are super important to move electrons along the “electron transport chain” or ETC in the mitochondria. (I just had to insert some biochemistry… can’t help myself…) Now, why did I just through that biochem in there you may wonder? Well, because without the mitochondria and the ETC you’d have 0 energy and couldn’t do anything. So jsut wnated to drive that home. That there are thousands of tiny power plants inside every single sell all using several iron molecules to function. So make sure you have just he right amount of iron. This is definitely one of those “goldilocks” situation – too much and too little both have problems. Iron can be highly inflammatory as it can oxidize – aka rust – when we have excess, as occurs with a condition called hemochromatosis; or if you eat tons of iron rich foods, cook everything in cast iron cookware.
  • Copper – I would consider this one of the “neglected” nutrients. I’ve seen a lot of patients in practice with anemia who are taking a lot of B vitamins and iron and their red hemoglobin/hematocrit and red blood cell levels aren’t really budging. Enter copper. Copper is a necessary nutrient in the development of red blood cells, and once copper is added many of these patients more readily assimilate the other nutrients and are able to rectify their anemia. Additionally copper is important in nerve cell health, immune function, and helps form collagen which helps with skin appearance as well as heart and blood vessel health.
  • Zinc – This nutrient has gotten a lot of hype lately for its immune supportive and anti-viral properties as well as antibacterial properties. It also plays an important role in enzymatic reactions including digestive enzymes. It aids the skin in wound healing and nerve function. Additionally it functions in blood clotting, thyroid function, and maintaining healthy vision. Many people also use it for acne.
  • Phosphorus – This nutrient is important for healthy bones and teeth. It also helps with utilization of proteins for cell function and repair. Remember when I dropped that biochemistry on you a bit ago – well that energy molecule that’s produced at the end of the ETC is called ATP = adenosinetriphosphate. ATP is your body’s energy currency.
  • Potassium – This nutrient is probably oft forgotten. But is actually very important in the regulation of normal blood pressure and heart beats. It’s also very important for nerve function and impulse conduction along nerve cells. (I’ll spare the details on that one). Deficiency symptoms can include weakness, feelings of skipped heart beat/palpitations, constipation, and fatigue.

Now before we get to the good part and I share my recipe, I just want to stress the importance of getting good quality liver. Unfortunately, most conventional commercial liver preparation are made from the livers of animals that were fed foods covered in herbicides/pesticides and that were given antibiotics during their lives. Now, not to mention the environmental impact or the ethics of this, I would never eat an organ designed to filter out the “yuck” from one of these animals. Would you lick the filter in the sink? I sure wouldn’t. So with the filtering capacity of this incredible organ some risks come along when we don’t source it well. I only use organic liver from sources I trust. I will either purchase local from my farmers market or form sources such as US wellness meats where farming practices are in line with health practices. Again, this is my personal preference and I’m aware that the liver doesn’t actually store these toxins, but knowing what I know about the human body and toxins, I just try to minimize the risk. Plus I love animals and nature so I support those that do the same!

There are some people who should probably avoid consuming liver or at least check with their doctor or health care practitioner before indulging in this treat. Here’s a short list

  • Pregnant persons
  • Those with gout
  • Anyone who has excess in nutrients mentioned above
  • Those with Hemochromatosis (iron storage disorder) – carriers should have it on rare occasions and monitor their iron levels
  • Those with Wilson’s disease (copper storage disorder)
  • Those with allergies or sensitivities to beef or chicken

Ok, I think that about sums it up on why I love liver and subsequently liver patè. If you don’t love liver and want a great source of these nutrients in the form of a multivitamin that’s safe to take daily, check out this Doctor developed supplement that supports skin and immune function here. use code DrKoperski for a discount. Personally I take 2 caps for maintenance and 4 when I needs a boost.

Liver Patè

Prep time: 10min

Cook time: 20min

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2-4 slices of bacon
  • 1 lb organic beef liver
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil – I love The Furies Olive Oil!
  • 2 tsp dried Organic Rosemary, crushed
  • ~1/2 cup bone broth
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium skillet over medium-low heat, cook the bacon. (I love making this recipe on days I’m already making bacon for breakfast!) Remove bacon from pan and let cool. Drain out some of the excess grease so there’s about 1/2-1Tbsp left in the pan. Basically coating the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add in 1tbsp olive oil, onions and mushrooms. Sauté, making sure to stir so they don’t get burnt/fried.
  3. Once the onions are soft add in the beef livers and rosemary. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook an additional 1-2min. Do not overcook your liver, it will get really chewy and the texture will be off in the final product. they should be just a bit pink in the middle. Think medium well.
  4. Remove from heat and allow everything to cool slightly.
  5. Transfer everything to a blender or food processor, including the juices and 1/4 cup of the broth.
  6. Add in the bacon
  7. Pulse, and add additional broth until you get a smooth consistency. I add additional liquid slowly as too much will cause a very runny consistency, which is much less appealing.
  8. Refrigerate until chilled and firm.
  9. Enjoy with your favorite veggies or crackers. We’re GF so we love Simple Mills Sea Salt crackers, which we get from Thrive market :).

Non-Toxic Beauty

So you want to be health-conscious but not hang up your beauty products? Would you like to use lotions & potions and still wear make-up? Good news, I have your back.

Even though I’ve stopped wearing make-up most of the time – as a mom of two that just hasn’t been the priority, and I’m learning to value natural beauty more the older I get. Then again, putting on make-up now and again is just plain old fun. I mean – who doesn’t like finger painting on your face? Plus, as my daughters are getting older and they are dabbling in make-up and painting their faces like jungle animals or starting to perfect their eye-liner I thought I’d share some of my clean skin favorites.

Why should we avoid certain chemicals in our beauty products? Glad you asked…

  • Many chemicals act as endocrine disruptors. Meaning they change the delicate hormonal balance within our body. Especially problematic for young developing kiddos – boys and girls are affected by this. Think mom’s make-up/perfume/lotion won’t rub off on your son’s skin? Think again. Any time you go in for that snuggle and there’s any moisture on the skin your child’s skin absorbs part of what’s on your skin.
  • Skin irritants – I’ve seen a lot of younger kiddos in my practice with some significant eczema or even just irritated skin from using products that are more chemical based. Be it bath bubbles, laundry detergent, or the lotion used after bath time.
  • Cancer risk – Some products when combined – such as ammonia based compounds and nitrosamines can form carcinogenic compounds

Here are some ingredients to steer clear from:

If you’re unsure of your current product’s toxicity level, you can head over to the Environmental Working Group at www.ewg.org and check your products in the Skin Deep database.

Now to my favorite products I use on my and my daughters skin:

  • Cleansers:
    • Water and an organic cotton cloth works great, especially if you’re not wearing foundation. My favorite for my morning routine.
    • I love the Beautycounter Cleansing Balm for myself
    • My eldest loves the Beautycounter Counterstart Cococream Cleaner
    • Check out an extended list of other clean brands here
  • Face Creams, lotions, and creams
    • Deep-Living Daily Face Cream – use code DRKOPERSKI for 15% off
    • Deep-Living Healing salve
      • great for any injuries or skin irritations
      • helps with fine lines and wrinkles such as on décolleté
      • doubles as a great base to make your own lip gloss, blush, or gel type eyeshadow
    • DoTerra Spa Hand & Body Lotion
  • Make-up – Make sure to check individual products on the skin deep database or their app.
    • BeautyCounter – Pretty much all you’ll find in my makeup pouch besides a few products that found their way into my bag.
    • Mineral Fusion
    • Maia’s Mineral Galaxy
    • Honest Beauty
    • W3LL People

And because every good natural health blog should have some fun DIY projects, here are some of my favorites:

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This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Full Disclosure can be found HERE.