Liver, the secret to great skin and balanced hormones

Liver, particularly Beef Liver, is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available with a nutrient profile like no other.

Liver is one of the few foods that contains such an abundance of essential nutrients in bioavailable forms, that even in small, infrequent servings (for instance, around 180g once every 10 days to two weeks) it can be enough to make a noticeable difference to overall health.  And for those with higher metabolic rates and increased nutrient demands, it is even more crucial that liver is incorporated in the diet.

Historically, offal (organ meats) have been an important staple food in all cultures.  In recent times, we’ve forgotten traditional recipes and these parts of the animal have fallen out of favour on our grocery lists.  Finding at least one recipe that makes liver delicious to you is one of the simplest ways you can boost your nutrition.  

 

Nutrients in beef liver

Beef Liver provides uniquely high levels of essential nutrients, to name a few …

  • Vitamin A: Liver is especially high in preformed Vitamin A, which supports normal vision, skin health, youthful hormone synthesis, reproductive and kidney health, immune function and reduces oxidative stress.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Supports healthy brain function and the formation of red blood cells and DNA. It also functions to increase usage of Vitamin A, making the A in liver even more potent.

  • Copper: Supports the activation of enzymes, which then help regulate energy production, iron metabolism and brain function. Also prevents greying of the hair and is important for keeping skin youthful.

  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Supports cellular development and function and helps convert food into energy. It’s been shown in this study to reduce lipofuscin (age spots) and may even extend lifespan. Furthermore in this study B2 has an anti-endotoxin effect and is protective of colonic inflammation.

  • Vitamin B9 (Folate): Supports cell growth and the formation of DNA.Liver is a far richer source of folate than are green leafy vegetables.

  • Choline: Supports brain development and liver function.
  • Iron: Heme Helps carry oxygen around the body.

  • CoQ10: Beef liver (and heart) are the richest sources of CoQ10, important for cardiovascular health, fertility and endurance. It also reduces inflammation and the damaging effects of free-radicals and stress.
  • Liver is also one of the few food sources of the other fat-soluble nutrients such as Vitamins D and K.

 

Benefits of Vitamin A

We labelled our Liver capsules ‘A+’ in reference to the fact that it contains such high levels of preformed Vitamin A, plus the many other nutrients mentioned above.  Why is Vitamin A so important?  Here are some quotes that explain:

Vitamin A affects the differentiation of skin cells, the production of steroids, and resistance to infection and inflammation. The great increase in formation of the sex steroids at puberty increases the need for vitamin A, and makes its regulatory actions more important. Thyroid's important functions for the skin are the production of steroids and preventing their imbalance, and maintaining the immune function and production of sebum. Other nutritional deficiencies, especially the balance between vitamin E and unsaturated fats, affect the functions of vitamin A and thyroid, so it's important to include foods like liver, eggs, oysters, fruits, and milk in the diet.” - Dr Ray Peat PhD

“Vitamin A's effect on the skin opposes that of estrogen. There are several mechanisms that could account for this. Vitamin A is used in the formation of steroids, and since the skin is a major site of steroid metabolism, vitamin A might help to maintain the level of the anti-catabolic steroids. A deficiency of vitamin A causes excessive release of the lysosomal enzymes, acid hydrolases, resulting in tissue catabolism. Also, vitamin A is necessary for the proper differentiation of cells in skin and other membranes. A deficiency tends to cause an increased rate of cell division, with the production of abnormal cells, and a substitution of keratinized cells for other types. Estrogen also promotes keratinization and speeds cell division. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause leukoplakia in the mouth and on the cervix of the uterus; although this is considered "pre-cancerous," I have found it to be very easily reversible, as I have discussed elsewhere. I suspect that the intracellular fibre, keratin, is produced when a cell can't afford to do anything more complex. Adequate vitamin A speeds protein synthesis, and allows it to be used more efficiently.” From Blocking Tissue Destruction.  

One of Vitamin A’s many actions is to prolong the life of skin cells, so that they don’t shed / turnover so quickly (keratinisation).   

“What numerous skin conditions (including acne, psoriasis and keratosis pilaris) have in common is that all involve an abnormal keratinization process.  While healthy pores may only shed one layer of dead skin cells per day, in acne sufferers, this process is accelerated. When the excess dead skin builds up and combines with sebum, impactions develop that can turn into acne.  So what happens when you increase your intake of vitamin A?  It slows down the turnover of skin cells, and makes them function longer before flaking off. In other words, vitamin A helps reverse the retention hyperkeratosis. This can have a dramatic impact on skin health and appearance, unblocking pores and preventing impactions.” – Michelle Villett The Beauty Editor.

 To appreciate just how rich in Vitamin A liver is … 

90g Beef Liver               

90g Lamb’s Liver           

90g Chicken Liver          

2 cups whole Milk          

2 eggs                          

30g Goats’ Cheese        

30g Cheddar Cheese     

1 tbsp Butter                 

28,542 IU

22,450 IU

11,995 IU

790 IU

457 IU

439 IU

372 IU

354 IU

 

Signs of possible Vitamin A deficiency:

Dry skin, dry eyes, night blindness, infertility, delayed growth, recurrent infections, poor wound healing, acne, psoriasis, eczema, hypothyroidism, keratosis pilaris, PMS, dandruff.

 

Hormones can never be “balanced” without sufficient Vitamin A  

Vitamin A is also crucial for the production of the youth-associated hormones, namely Pregnenolone , Progesterone and DHEA.  Three key substances are required for the production of these hormones, and they are: T3 (active thyroid hormone), Cholesterol, and Vitamin A.  If any of these are lacking, we cannot produce these protective, anti-stress hormones, and instead resort to a stressed metabolism where the opposing hormones dominate, estrogen in particular.  Estrogen in excess in turn blocks thyroid production so active T3 decreases, further impeding the production of pregnenolone … it’s a vicious cycle.  

 

What if you can’t stomach or access fresh liver?

The other thing about liver is that it is an “acquired taste”, and if you haven’t grown up with it, it can be too intense and unpleasant to many people.  If you genuinely love the taste of it, you’re one of the lucky few! 

For years, the majority of my clients have been complaining that they just can’t stomach liver.  I’ll encourage them to explore different recipes (these are some of my favourite liver recipes).  Pâté is a way of preparing liver that more people seem OK with, however it is heavy on the fat. Even after many experiments in the kitchen, a lot of people still can’t make liver work for them, certainly not consistently for the long term. And other people literally can’t access fresh liver where they live.

So finally we caved, and started looking for other ways of helping people get it in.

When I looked into desiccated liver capsules, I was concerned about the dehydration process which usually involved heat, and how that impacted the nutrient levels.  Also, most are defatted, and when you remove the fat, the fat-soluble nutrients go with it (Vitamin A being one of them).  With other products, their purity was questionable (in regards to additives such as solvents and deodosisers) and so was the source.

So, the only solution was to make our own.

 

Our criteria for  A+ Liver Capsules

They had to be:

- Made only from Australian grass-fed Beef Liver

- Non-defatted leaving vital fat-soluble nutrients A, D, E & K intact.

- Freeze-dried to preserve heat-sensitive nutrients and biological activity, with least nutrient loss. This study shows freeze-drying prevents microbial growth and retards lipid oxidation.

- 100% pure: with no fillers, solvents, deodorisers, flow agents, silica, preservatives or other additives.

- had to be in a bovine gelatin capsule, in a small size to make them easy to swallow.

And we did it!

Our A+ Liver Capsules are a convenient way of getting the benefits of beef liver for those who either don’t tolerate the taste of it, can't get it, or travel frequently.

Also, even if you do enjoy eating liver occasionally, there are still advantages to taking a little every other day for better the sake of the water-soluble B-Vitamins, which can’t be stored and need to be topped up daily, as opposed to the fat-soluble nutrients which we can get away with eating one larger dose of less frequently because the body stores them.  So having capsules on hand could be handy for this reason too. 

 

 

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this blog should not be used to treat or diagnose disease or health problems and is provided for your information only.  Pregnant women should consult with their health professional before consuming liver.