MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Liver.Is it really good for me?

Date: Thu Mar 28 16:43:13 2002
Posted By: Dian Dooley, , Associate Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 1017265224.An

Aloha, Lynn,

     The question you ask is a fairly common one, but a very important one, 
too.  It shows that you are questionning what you hear...and that is the 
mark of a critical thinker.
     You are correct in your statement about the liver being a filter to 
take away impurities (not all of them, though) from our bodies.  But, the 
liver does a lot more:  it manufactures some compounds (such as bile);  it 
modifies some nutrients (fats, proteins, carbohydrates);  and it stores 
some nutrients (iron, protein, carbohydrate).  It is one of the most 
important organs in our body. That is why when a person's liver begins to 
fail, eventually a transplant is the only thing that will work, towards the 
     Now, to your question.  Actually, the answer is part of a lecture that 
I give to my introductory nutrition classes every semester, here at the 
University of Hawai`i/Manoa.  Liver (beef, pig, etc.), as food, can be a 
good source of iron, but there are also other good sources of iron in our 
food supply...meat or animal flesh, of most kinds;  fortified grain 
products (breads, cereals, pasta, etc.);  some green vegetables;  dried 
beans/peas (like kidney beans).  Also, getting iron from a multiple 
vitamin/mineral table may be an appropriate way to get iron for some people 
(for example, pregnant women, vegetarians, a person who has been diagnosed 
as anemic).  
     Some people really do not like the taste and/or texture of liver.  
Personally, I enjoy eating liver once in a while, but my husband and 
children (when they were at home) hate it.  So, we didn't eat a lot.  I 
share your concerns about the liver (in cattle or pigs) being an organ that 
helps detoxify compounds.  BUT, the emphasis is on the term 'detoxify.'  If 
the animals liver is functioning properly and the animal hasn't been 
exposed to toxic substances during the time before slaughter, there 
shouldn't be much risk of there being much residue left in the liver.  
Thus, that knowledge makes me feel a whole lot better about eating liver 
sausage, occasionally...which I really do enjoy, especially now that I can 
find lower fat versions.
     Thus, it is really your choice.  If you like the taste of liver, I'd 
say eat it occasionally;  if you don't like the taste, you can always get 
adequate iron from other foods.  You can also increase your body's ability 
to absorb iron from the food you eat by making sure you have adequate 
vitamin C in your diet (for example, orange juice, citrus fruits, 
strawberries, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli). 
     If you feel you aren't getting enough iron in your diet, then multi 
V/M supplements, where the level of iron is somewhere around 100% of the 
USRDA, are a second step.  However, too much iron can be just as dangerous 
as too little, so I'd suggest that you get the advice of a medical doctor 
and/or dietitian before you add that.  

Current Queue | Current Queue for Anatomy | Anatomy archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Anatomy.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2002. All rights reserved.