Beef Liver Nutrition and Benefits

By William Kiltz Updated on

You’ve probably heard the term superfood given as an accolade to kale, spinach, and blueberries for their seemingly untouchable nutritional might. But did you ever stop to question those claims or stop to think if there was anything truly better? And was the last time you considered adding liver to your plate for its nutritional benefits? Truth is, of all the foods, beef liver reigns supreme.

Beef liver is an absolute powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. It’s also low in carbs and high in protein. Because of this unique macro and micronutrient combination, beef liver is bound to improve the overall health and wellness of anyone who is smart enough to work it onto their weekly meal plan. 

Sure sure, eating beef liver meat can feel intimidating, and it may not be for the squeamish (at least at first), but the health benefits of beef liver can change your life. 

This article will discuss everything you need to know about beef liver and why you should add this superfood to your diet.

Beef Liver Nutrition

Beef liver is nutrient-dense, high protein, and low carb superfood. Many consider beef liver to be nature’s multivitamin and looking at the nutritional profile of beef liver, you’d be foolish to question those claims.

Check out the nutritional comparison between beef liver and other foods below.

Daily Recommended Intake Beef Liver (100g) Kale (100g) Spinach (100g) Blueberries (100g)
Vitamin A Men: 3,000 IU

Women: 2,300 IU

Pregnant Women: 2,566 IU

16,899 IU 15,376 IU 9,376 IU 54.0 IU
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Men: 1.3 mg

Women: 1.1 mg

2.8 mg 0.1 mg 0.2 mg 0.0 mg
Niacin (Vitamin B3) Men: 16 mg

Women: 14 mg

13.2 mg 1 mg 0.7 mg 0.4 mg
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) Adults: 5 mg 7.2 mg 0.1 mg 0.1 mg 0.1 mg
Vitamin B6 Adults: 1.3 mg 1.1 mg 0.3 mg 0.2 mg 0.1 mg
Folate (Vitamin B9) Adults: 400 mcg

Pregnant Women: 600 mcg

290 mcg 29 mcg 194 mcg 6 mcg
Vitamin B12 Adults: 2.4 mcg

Pregnant women: 2.6 mcg

59.3 mcg 0.0 mcg 0.0 mcg 0.0 mcg
Calcium Adults: 1,000 mg 5 mg 135 mg 99 mg 6 mg
Copper Adults: 0.9 mg 9.8 mg 0.3 mg 0.1 mg 0.1 mg
Vitamin C Men: 90 mg

Women: 75 mg

1.3 mg 120 mg 0.0 mg 9.7 mg
Vitamin D Adults: 600 IU 16 IU
Vitamin E Adults: 15 mg 0.4 mg 2 mg 0.6 g
Iron Men: 8 mg

Women: 18 mg

Pregnant women: 27 mg

4.9 mg 1.7 mg 2.7 mg 0.3 mg
Magnesium Men: 400 mg

Women: 310 mg

18 mg 34 mg 174 mg 6 mg
Phosphorous Adults: 700 mg 387 mg 56 mg 49 mg 12 mg
Potassium Men: 3,400 mg

Women: 2,600 mg

313 mg 447 mg 558 mg 77 mg
Selenium Adults: 55 mcg 39.7 mcg 0.9 mcg 1 mcg 0.1 mcg
Zinc Men: 11 mg

Women: 8 mg

Pregnant women: 11 mg

4 mg 0.4 mg 2.8 mg 0.2 mg

 

As you can see, beef liver exceeds these other so-called “superfoods” in almost every micronutrient including:

  • Vitamin A
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate (vitamin B9)
  • Vitamin B12
  • Copper
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Phosphorous
  • Selenium
  • Zinc

Simply put, beef liver contains more vitamins and minerals than any other fruit or vegetable, often by many factors. A 100 gram serving of beef liver also contains 20.4 grams of protein, only 3.9 grams of carbs, and 3.6 grams of healthy fats.

If this isn’t reason enough to make you consider adding beef liver to your diet, then keep reading. We’ll dive into the health benefits of this superfood next. 

Health Benefits of Beef Liver

Beef liver offers many benefits due to its broad and potent collection of vitamins and minerals. Let’s dig a little deeper into the health benefits of beef liver below.

Bouncing off the Wall Energy

Are you sick and tired of feeling sluggish every day? This may be a sign that you lack essential micronutrients.

Eating beef liver is loaded with nutrients that have been shown to boost your energy like :

  • Vitamin B12
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Magnesium

These micronutrients help extract energy from food so that your body can use it. The B vitamins and iron also make sure that your muscles and organs receive enough oxygen. This prevents the development of anemia, which can cause symptoms including:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Concentration problems1

Glowing Skin

Beef liver may help you look and feel younger. Beef liver contains the following vitamins and minerals that improve skin health :

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, may lessen the appearance of aging by increasing skin vascularity, thickness, and firmness

Vitamin C may also slow down skin-aging by reducing wrinkle depth. But most importantly, vitamin C is a natural antioxidant that protects your skin from damaging UV radiation. The protective benefits of vitamin C are most effective in combination with Vitamin E. Luckily, beef liver contains both of these vitamins3

Fertility

If you’re struggling to conceive, you may feel hopeless. But making changes to your diet can support your path to pregnancy.

Beef liver contains vitamins and minerals that are necessary for reproduction including :

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Folate

Remarkably, research shows that vitamin B12 may increase sperm count and motility4. Selenium and zinc may also improve your ability to conceive. Studies show that adding these vitamins to your diet may reduce the time to pregnancy. Women with low selenium concentrations may take more than 1 year to conceive5.

Fetal Development

Beef liver may be a good source of vitamins and minerals for pregnant women. This is because it contains the following micronutrients that aid healthy fetal development :

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Copper
  • Folate (Vitamin B9)
  • Iron
  • Zinc

Specifically, vitamin B12 and folate may reduce the risk of preterm birth6. Folate may also reduce the risk of birth defects such as heart problems and spina bifida. 

A 100 gram serving of beef liver provides 18% of the recommended daily intake of iron for pregnant women. And this may prevent iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency in pregnancy  may lead to complications including :

  • Poor fetal growth
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight

Strong Bones

You don’t need to drink milk to get strong bones. Try eating beef liver instead. Beef liver contains the following vitamins and minerals that promote bone health :

  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

 

Adding beef liver to your diet may reduce your risk of bone disorders such as osteoporosis. This can prevent bone loss and fractures.

Heart Health

Beef liver may also reduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Beef liver contains the following micronutrients that support heart health :

  • Potassium
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Magnesium

Research shows that potassium intake may lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including:

  • Coronary heart disease (heart attack)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (stroke)
  • Heart failure

Brainpower

Have you ever found yourself dealing with brain fog or difficulty concentrating? If so, adding beef liver to your diet may help.

Beef liver contains the following vitamins and minerals that may enhance cognitive performance :

  • Selenium
  • Copper
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
  • Iron

Research shows that selenium levels decrease as you get older . And this may cause declines in brain function. 

Copper may also influence cognitive performance . Some research suggests that a low dietary intake of copper may lead to Alzheimer’s disease. But other findings show high levels of copper in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.

Niacin (vitamin B3) also plays a role in cognitive functioning . Deficiencies in this vitamin can lead to memory loss. Surprisingly, research suggests that people with Parkinson’s disease may have low levels of niacin.

But that’s not all.

Individuals with iron deficiencies may experience better cognitive performance after iron supplementation. Cognitive improvements involved the following areas:

  • Attention
  • Concentration
  • Memory1

Strength & Endurance

Magnesium is a mineral found in beef liver. Dietary intakes of magnesium may improve neurological and neuromuscular functioning including:

  • Muscle strength
  • Muscle power
  • Muscle performance
  • Cardiorespiratory endurance

The more you exercise, the more magnesium you need to support physical performance7. Beef liver may be a good source of magnesium for athletes or active individuals.

Elevated Mood

Eating beef liver may not only improve your cognitive and physical health, but it may also improve your psychological health. Research shows that people with depression have lower levels of folate compared to people without depression. Remarkably, folate may decrease symptoms of depression by improving the effectiveness of antidepressant medications8.

Many other vitamins and minerals found in beef liver can also cause depressive symptoms if under-consumed. These vitamins include :

  • Vitamin C
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc1

Adding beef liver to your diet may supplement these micronutrients and boost your mood.

Eye Health

Eating beef liver may improve your eye health . Beef liver contains extraordinary amounts of vitamin A, which is crucial for your vision. Vitamin A intake may prevent the development of complications including:

  • Night blindness
  • Dry eye syndrome
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Vision loss

Strong Immune System

A strong immune system depends on many vitamins and minerals. Thankfully, beef liver is up to the task. Beef liver contains the following micronutrients that promote immune health:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Copper
  • Zinc

Vitamin A enforces the mechanical barrier function of the skin and inner linings of the body. This prevents harmful pathogens from invading.

Vitamin C also boosts your immune response with its antioxidant properties. Vitamin C reduces tissue damage and oxidative stress by killing free radicals

Copper also provides cellular defense against free radicals. Lastly, the zinc in beef liver assists with wound healing11.  In short, beef liver may keep you healthy and reduce your risk for infectious diseases.

Potential Dangers of Eating Liver

Now that you’re aware of the health benefits of beef liver, we’ll also touch on the potential dangers of eating liver. But don’t worry, these risks are few and far between.

Hepatitis E

Eating uncooked or undercooked beef liver may increase your risk of hepatitis E . This is an infection that occurs after consuming contaminated food. The hepatitis E virus causes liver inflammation, which may lead to the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)

This sounds scary. But hepatitis E is not common in the United States. And it often resolves on its own without any complications.

 

You can avoid hepatitis E by practicing good hand hygiene and cooking beef liver to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is another risk of eating beef liver. But this risk is very low. You are more than twice as likely to get food poisoning from fruits and vegetables. Only 22% of food poisoning infections arise from meat and poultry .

 

Chances are that you’ll encounter food poisoning from lettuce and not beef liver.

 

Symptoms of food poisoning may include :

  • Stomach upset
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

 

You can prevent food poisoning by cooking beef liver to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Vitamin A Toxicity

You can experience vitamin A toxicity if you consume too much vitamin A. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity may include :

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vertigo
  • Blurry vision

 

Pregnant women who experience vitamin A toxicity may have an increased risk of birth defects. But vitamin A toxicity is rare. And it is most often caused by supplements rather than natural food sources.

 

Consuming more than 600,000 IU of vitamin A may lead to poisoning. You may also experience vitamin A poisoning if you regularly ingest more than 25,000 IU of vitamin A daily .

 

You can avoid vitamin A toxicity by being mindful of your beef liver consumption. A 100 gram serving of beef liver contains 16,899 IU of vitamin A. You can eat this daily without any risks of vitamin A poisoning.

How Often Should You Eat Liver?

Children should consume beef liver no more than once weekly. But adults can eat beef liver more often13. You may experience greater benefits with more frequent consumption. Beef liver can supplement much needed vitamins and minerals.

A 100 gram serving of beef liver surpasses the recommended daily intakes for the following micronutrients :

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B12
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • Copper

Beef liver also delivers over 50% of the daily recommended intakes for:

  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate (vitamin B9)
  • Selenium

 

As you can see, beef liver packs a healthy punch of vitamins and minerals.

How to Cook Beef Liver for the Best Health Benefits

You shouldn’t eat raw or undercooked beef liver due to the risks of hepatitis E and food poisoning. Don’t forget: you must cook beef liver to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill germs.

Cooking beef liver also makes it easier to digest and improves the absorption of vitamins and minerals. But some cooking methods are better than others when it comes to your health. 

You should cook beef liver with healthy fats such as butter to form the perfect keto meal. If you soak liver in milk before cooking, use full-fat milk. Your body needs fat for fuel.

A keto diet involves adequate amounts of fat and protein and little to no carbs. Make sure you avoid the following carbohydrates when preparing beef liver:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

Plant-based carbohydrates can increase blood sugar levels and inflammation throughout the body. This is because they contain high amounts of sugar, plant antigens, and phytochemicals. Cooking beef liver with animal fats can reduce inflammation and improve immune function. 

Beef Liver Summary

We can safely declare beef liver as nature’s top superfood. It all boils down to beef liver nutrition. No other foods can match it. The micronutrients in beef liver support physical, cognitive, and psychological health.

To summarize, the benefits of beef liver may include:

  • All-day energy
  • Anti-aging skin
  • Fertility
  • Fetal development 
  • Strong bones
  • Heart health
  • Brainpower
  • Strength and endurance
  • Elevated mood
  • Eye health
  • Strong immune system

Believe it or not, these benefits are possible with minimal risks. You can avoid the dangers of eating liver by:

  • Following the recommended dietary intakes
  • Practicing good hand hygiene
  • Using proper cooking methods

If you want to unlock the endless possibilities of health and wellness, try making beef liver a weekly addition to your diet.

What have you got to lose?

Check out our free resource — Dr. Kiltz’s Keto Cure — if you want to learn more about the healing effects of the ketogenic diet.

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