Can you get sick from eating animal liver?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you get sick from eating animal liver?” with an in-depth analysis of the nutritional components of liver, the health benefits of eating liver, and the dangers associated with eating liver. 

Can you get sick from eating animal liver?

The answer is yes, you can get sick from eating animal liver, like beef liver or chicken liver. Though rich in nutrients, excessive consumption of the liver can lead to various health problems. The key is to consume moderate amounts of liver to attain the maximum health benefits of eating liver. 

Nutritional composition of liver

Liver is an excellent source of Iron, Phosphorus,  Copper,  Potassium,  Vitamin C, Vitamin B, Folate, Niacin and Riboflavin.

 A three-ounce serving of cooked beef liver comprises of following nutrients:

NutrientsAmount 
Calories153 Kcal
fat4 grams
fibreLess than one gram
carbohydrates4 grams
proteins23 grams
sugarLess than one gram

Health benefits of eating liver

Liver provides adequate amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, thus it presents several health benefits which are discussed below.

  • Rich source of vitamin A

Liver is amongst the best animal-based sources of vitamin A. A single meal of liver (beef or chicken liver) provides enough vitamin A to satisfy your daily need for vitamin A. Vitamin A intake helps to lower the risk of certain health conditions like breast cancer and cataracts.

  • Rich source of essential nutrients

The liver is nutritionally rich food. It contains notable amounts of iron, folate, copper and vitamin B. Consuming a single serving of liver can help fulfil your daily recommended dose of all these minerals and vitamins, minimizing the risk of nutrient deficiency.

  • Reduces the risk of Anaemia

Deficiency of iron can lead to anaemia which is characterized by muscle weakness, lack of focus and general fatigue. Consumption of either beef or chicken liver provides an excellent source of both vitamin B12 and iron, which work together to keep the blood cells healthy. 

In fact, regular consumption of beef liver was recommended to patients with anaemia in older times.

  • Improved Bone Health

Liver is an excellent source of vitamin K, which is essential for maintaining healthy bones. Vitamin K helps to process calcium so that it can be utilised by bones, thus it helps in maintaining the strength of the skeletal system. 

Additionally, consuming a diet rich in vitamin K has been associated with a decreased risk of chronic health conditions, for instance, osteoporosis. Vitamin K also helps to maintain the health of the circulatory system.

Health risks associated with eating liver

Although liver has enormous amounts of essential nutrients, consuming liver in higher amounts can also create complications for individuals with certain medical conditions. Therefore, you should always consult your doctor before increasing liver intake in your diet.

Higher consumption of animal liver can lead to the following health problems:

  • High Cholesterol

Liver provides enormous amounts of dietary cholesterol, which may not pose any health risk to healthy individuals. However, excessive liver consumption may be a health risk for individuals who are trying to lower their cholesterol or are taking cholesterol medications. 

Consuming cholesterol in higher amounts can increase the risk of heart disease. Therefore, people with high cholesterol levels should keep a check on the amount when eating liver.

Cholesterol when consumed in excess, can combine with other compounds in your blood and forms a substance known as plaque. This substance sticks to your artery walls, causing them to become thinner or become blocked completely, leading to a condition known as atherosclerosis. This accumulation of plaque can lead to coronary artery disease.

  • Interactions with certain medications

It has been found that certain medications can interact with vitamin A. As the animal liver is a rich source of vitamin A, anyone who uses medications, for instance, certain psoriasis medications or particularly, Orlistat, should ask their doctor before consuming liver.

  • Vitamin A Toxicity 

High levels of vitamin A in your diet can be dangerous for your health. It can lead to symptoms of vitamin A toxicity- known as hypervitaminosis A, which makes your bones more susceptible to fractures when you’re older. Other symptoms include headaches, anorexia, irritability, double vision, vomiting, coarse hair, alopecia and swollen bones.

In fact, higher amounts of vitamin A are difficult to process quickly by our own liver. Pregnant women are recommended to not eat liver, as excessive vitamin A consumption is harmful to fetuses. 

Most doctors recommend just one serving of liver each week to people without any vitamin deficiencies to avoid toxicity.

Conclusion

In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you get sick from eating liver?” with an in-depth analysis of the nutritional components of liver, health benefits of eating liver, and dangers associated with eating liver. 

Reference

https://www.webmd.com/diet/liver-good-for-you#2
https://www.livestrong.com/article/491280-the-effects-of-eating-liver/
https://www.heartstonefarm.me/blogs/about-grass-fed-beef/is-beef-liver-good-or-bad-for-you

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.