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Desiccated Liver Benefits: What to Know Before Buying

By Thomas Wrona Updated on

Table of Contents

Desiccated beef liver is a way to get the powerful nutritional benefits of liver in an ultra-convenient (and tasteless) format. 

In this article, we will take a deep dive into desiccated liver benefits, along with what to look for, and watch out for when choosing a desiccated liver supplement. Then we’ll compare three high-quality brands to choose from. 

What is Desiccated Liver?

We’ve written a lot about liver, what it is, what it does, and where to find it. Throw in the term desiccated, however, and things suddenly seem a little more mysterious. 

Yet desiccation is quite simple. It refers to the process of drying out/dehydrating fresh liver. Similar to how whey protein is just the liquid-free, concentrated whey from a cow, desiccated liver is simply beef liver of the liquid-free variety. [1]

Desiccation allows you to consume significant amounts of liver’s ‘active ingredients’ — including B vitamins, iron, vitamin A, and rare peptides — in a serving size as small as a few capsules.   

Why Do People Take Desiccated Liver Supplements? 

According to liver supplement companies and other organ meat enthusiasts, there are numerous reasons to consider taking desiccated liver capsules. 

Purported desiccated liver benefits include:

  • Promotes energy
  • Supports overall health
  • Promotes liver function
  • Supports liver circulation
  • Supports exercise performance
  • Liver protection (hepatoprotection)

But are these desiccated liver benefits legitimate? 

There are relatively few human studies that have looked specifically at the benefits of desiccated liver supplementation. 

That being said, many of beef liver’s most abundant micronutrients have indeed been studied in depth. 

Desiccated Liver Nutrition

Rich in B vitamins, heme iron, vitamin A, copper, vitamin C, and rare peptides, the nutritional profile of desiccated liver is impressive. 

Below is a chart highlighting the difference between ground beef and beef liver.  Desiccated beef liver (freeze-dried) captures nearly all of fresh liver’s micronutrient profile. 

Nutrient Beef, Muscle Meat (100 grams) Beef Liver (100 grams)
Calories 217 calories 135 calories
Total fat 11.8 grams 3.6 grams
Saturated fat 5 grams 2 grams
Total Carbs 0 grams 3.9 grams
Protein 26.1 grams 20.4 grams
Iron 2.6 mg 4.9 mg
Calcium 11 mg 11 mg
Phosphorus 140 mg 470 mg
Potassium 370 mg 380 mg
Iron 3 mg 9 mg
Copper 1 mg  10 mg
Zinc 4 mg 4 mg
Vit. A 40 IU 50,000 IU
Vit. D Trace  20 IU
Vit. E 1 mg 1 mg
Vit. C Trace  25 mg
Vit. K2 Trace  90 mcg
Niacin 4 mg 16 mg
Vit. B6 Trace  Trace 
Vit. B12  2 mcg 110 mcg
Folate 4 mcg 140 mcg

Heme Iron 

Desiccated beef liver is a great source of highly-bioavailable heme iron, even richer than ‘normal’ muscle meat. Heme iron is especially important for hard-training athletes and pregnant or nursing moms. [5][6

Nucleic Acids 

Nucleic acids are a type of genetic building block responsible for sending and storing information. Your body’s ability to make its own nucleic acids diminishes over time, making dietary sources of these acids continually more important. 

Thankfully, desiccated beef liver is a rare source of dietary nucleic acid. Don’t neglect it if you want your genes to be optimally expressed in the long run. [7]

B vitamins

Desiccated beef liver is rich in fat-oxidizing B vitamins that can keep you energized. Many of these B vitamins can support your own liver health. [8]

Beef liver’s top B vitamins include vitamin B12 and folate, a water-soluble vitamin that’s so important for infant health that it’s included in virtually all prenatal vitamins. [9]

The B12 content of liver is especially impressive. A single full serving of beef liver contains roughly 40 times your B12 RDV. While a single daily serving of Dr. Kiltz’s Grass Fed Beef Liver Supplement contains roughly 10x. 

This surplus often manifests as a tangible boost of energy, making B12 a favorite of athletes, biohackers, and anyone else seeking energy support. 

B12 also contributes to efficient energy (ATP) generation, cell division, and nervous system function. [10]

Liver Enzymes

When it comes to organ meats and their health benefits, there’s an age-old saying, “ like-supports-like.” In other words, the organ meat you eat can support the health of the corresponding organ in you!

Beef liver can support liver health, beef kidney can support kidney health, beef heart can support heart health, et cetera. 

An especially clear example of this can be seen in desiccated beef liver’s enzyme content. It’s a rich source of liver enzymes in the CP450 family. This enzyme family has been shown to assist your liver with some of its most important roles, including hormone production, and detox. [11]

Vitamin A

Desiccated beef liver is an excellent source of both beta carotene and preformed vitamin A. These vitamins have been shown to promote clearer skin and better vision. [12][13] On the other hand, liver’s unusually high vitamin A content means it’s best eaten and supplemented in moderation. [14]

Desiccated Liver Benefits

Given the nutritional similarities, desiccated liver benefits are similar to its fresh counterpart. Here are our top five ways that desiccated liver is good for you

Promotes fertility

Our ancestors have been promoting their fertility with B12-rich beef liver for eons. The pregnancy diets of numerous traditional cultures provided liver to their moms-to-be. [15]

Modern science has shown that vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12 are important for supporting fertility. [16][18]

Promotes and Maintains Energy

Desiccated liver may promote energy thanks to the fact that it contains more B12 than any other whole-food supplement in existence. 

In addition to B12, beef liver is also rich in energy-mobilizing biotin, folate, and coenzyme Q10. These nutrients support your body in accessing stored energy, converting it into fuel, and burning it cleanly with a minimum of ROS (free radical) production. [20]

Promotes Athletic Performance

Liver has been known to promote athletic performance ever since Olympiad times. [21] Grecian anatomist Galen explained that “the liver is the source of the veins and the principal instrument of sanguification.” [22]

Liver consumption took a turn towards the supplemental route in the late 1800s. Strongman Arthur Saxon used a beef organ extract prior to setting his still-standard records in lifts like the “two hands anyhow.” [23][24

Desiccated beef liver gained further popularity among physical culturists in the 1950s. The experiments of Dr. Benjamin Ershoff showed that mice given liver tablets swam far longer than those who went without. [25] Scientists are still trying to isolate the exact anti-fatigue factor in liver that contributed to the outcomes of Ershoff’s experiments. 

One of the greatest drug-free physiques of all times, Britain’s Reg Park, advocated for adequate beef liver consumption in many of his writings.  [26]

Provides Rare Nutrients

Research has shown that eating a standard American diet high in processed grains and added sugars can result nutrient deficiencies. [27]

The rich nutritional profile of desiccated liver can address many of the most common deficiencies. Pregnant women may be especially likely to benefit from beef liver’s micronutrient content. Research from Purdue University in Indiana has discovered that this group is vulnerable to many vitamin and mineral deficiencies, including: [28

  • Vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Vitamin B6, B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium

Using desiccated beef liver to become nutritionally-replete may have a variety of downstream health benefits, including promotion of natural fertility for both men and women. However, the high amounts of vitamin A in liver can have negative effects on fetal development, so it’s important not to overconsume liver if pregnant. 

High Iron Food

Some groups have higher nutrient demands than others. Children, athletes, and pregnant/nursing women may all require higher amounts of iron and vitamin B12 than others. 

For a glimpse at how effective beef liver is at promoting iron intake, look no further than the 1926 protocol that later won MD George R. Minot the Nobel Prize: 

“By May of 1926, we had fed liver intensively and daily to 45 patients. In many of these patients symptomatic improvement was obvious within about a week,” Minot explained in his Nobel lecture. 

“Soon they craved food, and color appeared in their faces. Tongue and digestive symptoms rapidly lessened. Within about 60 days the red blood cell counts had risen on the average from low levels to approximately normal […] by feeding liver, significant improvement had been obtained.” [30]

Desiccated Liver Side Effects

Though desiccated liver benefits are powerful and wide-ranging, it is liver’s abundance of nutrients that can lead to a few side effects to watch out for. 

Desiccated Liver Side Effects: Hypervitaminosis

Desiccated liver is so high in vitamin A that it is possible to overconsume it. 

Vitamin A hypervitaminosis can cause a slew of harsh side effects. Exposing a developing fetus to too much vitamin A can result in birth defects like cleft palate and heart problems. 

For this reason, pregnant women are advised to consume less than 1,500 micrograms of vitamin A per day — including all foods and supplements.  [31]

Desiccated Liver Side Effects: Copper/Zinc Imbalance

Desiccated beef liver supplements may also contain very high amounts of copper. Taken more frequently than needed, this copper can skew your body’s copper: zinc ratio and lead to side effects like nausea and gastrointestinal distress.  [32]

Poor Quality Controls

This subject isn’t a direct side effect of desiccated beef liver — but it could lead to some. 

Many of the market’s current desiccated liver products are inaccurately labeled. Poor quality controls mean that some products may be contaminated by heavy metals or other toxins, or that the liver may come from unhealthy animal sources. The key is to know the source–more on this below. 

How to Avoid Desiccated Liver Side Effects

Avoiding these types of side effects is fairly simple: Don’t take more than the recommended daily dose, and tune into your body. 

What to look for in a Desiccated Liver Supplement

There are three major factors to look for in any desiccated liver supplement before you buy: 

  • The quality of the cattle it’s sourced from
  • Whether or not it contains any additives
  • How it’s processed

New Zealand Cattle

High quality liver supplements are made from the best cattle, and New Zealand is renowned for producing some of the world’s healthiest cattle. 

New Zealand cows are born and raised on open GMO-free pastures and fed their natural grass diet throughout their lives — resulting in superior nutritional profile over conventionally raised cows. The organ meats of New Zealand cattle are prized for their purity and feature in the the finest organ meat supplements.

The high quality of cattle New Zealand ranching directly translates into high quality organ meats.

According to the USDA,  New Zealand beef liver offers significantly higher nutritional value compared to U.S.-raised beef liver.  

Key nutritional differences include:

  • Vitamin B12 – New Zealand beef liver provides 43% more than U.S.-raised beef liver.
  • Vitamin B5 – New Zealand beef liver provides 44% more than U.S.-raised beef liver.
  • Iron – New Zealand beef liver provides 72% more than U.S.-raised beef liver.
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1) – New Zealand beef liver provides 96% more than U.S.-raised liver.
  • Vitamin A – New Zealand beef liver provides 459% more than U.S.-raised liver.

No Fillers

High quality desiccated liver supplements should also be free of fillers, binders, and other additives. All a l supplement really needs to contain is liver and a gelatin capsule. 

Keeping the ingredients list short goes a long way towards ensuring that products are also free of hormones, pesticides, and GMOs. 

Freeze-Dried

Freeze-drying liver is the best way to preserve its nutrients and capture its essence. This gentle process captures — and concentrates — liver’s best vitamins, minerals, cofactors, bioactives, and peptides. The result is a premium liver supplement that’s roughly 9 times stronger than fresh liver per weight.

Best Brands To Buy

Of the desiccated liver supplements on the market, we know of three brands that check the above boxes: Ancestral Supplements, Vital Proteins, and Dr. Kiltz Nutritional Solutions. Here’s a head-to-head comparison:

Brand Doctor Kiltz Nutritional Solutions  Ancestral Nutrition  Vital Proteins 
Liver Content Per Serving 3000 mg  3000 mg  3000 mg
Servings/Bottle 30 30 30
Cattle Feed and Location Grass-fed, grass-finished  Grass-fed, grass-finished  Grass-fed, grass-finished 
Cattle Sourcing New Zealand New Zealand New Zealand
Other Ingredients Free of Fillers, Additives, and Flow Agents Free of Fillers, Additives, and Flow Agents Free of Fillers, Additives, and Flow Agents
Capsules per serving 6 small capsules 6 small capsules 4 large capsules
Cost $35 $36 $38
Subscription Discount $30 + Free Shipping Free Shipping if Amazon Prime $32.3 + Free Shipping

As you see, all three of the top desiccated liver supplements share many of the same qualities. 

They’re all sourced from grass-fed, grass-finished, pasture-raised, New Zealand cattle. And they contain nothing but pure beef liver. 

Doctor Kiltz Nutritional Solutions

Doctor Kiltz’s grass-fed, grass-finished organ supplement is a prime nutritional solution. Each 500 mg capsule contains pasture-raised New Zealand beef liver goodness and is totally free from additives. 

Key Features:

  • 3000 mg of Grass Fed and finished beef liver, pasture-raised in New Zealand
  • Freeze-dried to preserve the optimal nutritional profile
  • Free from fillers, additives, or flow agents
  • 6 easy to swallow pills per serving
  • $40 one time purchase
  • $35 + free shipping with subscription
  • Free Shipping

+ Shop Doctor Kiltz Nutritional Solutions Beef Liver Supplements

Desiccated Liver Benefits: The Takeaway

Beef liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on earth.

Yet eating high-quality, fresh beef liver isn’t realistic for everyone. If you’re looking for a more practical option,  desiccated liver supplements may be a great addition to your healthy diet and wellness routine. 

 

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