How much liver is really safe to eat?

I have not had to worry about my vitamin A intake until now. I discovered a brand of liverwurst which was like the kind I had in childhood, i.e. correctly made so that it was actually good. I was eating 2 to 4 tbsp a day on some seed crackers for the last 3 days, because it was almost no carbs. Then I noticed the vitamin A content was sky high. 1 oz. which is 2 tbsp. has 7843 IU vitamin A which is 336% of the Cronometer RDA. Two oz or 4 tbsp. is 672% of the RDA for vitamin A. There is vitamin A in other foods I eat so I actually can't afford to eat any liver, or at the most, 1 tablespoon, and thus, what's the point? A food so toxic in Vitamin A that you can eat only one tbsp. - how is that possible, or is the whole RDA/toxicity system wrong? It is well known that polar bear and shark liver are toxic. But beef and pork liver and liverwurst are common foods in North America and Europe. Why are there no warnings to avoid too much liver? A 4 oz. piece of broiled liver, which is a small serving (most restaurant or home cooked portions are larger), has over 20,000 IU of vitamin A. I can't think of any other way but to throw away the rest of my liverwurst to avoid toxicity because it is so good I cannot just eat one tablespoon! I certainly can't take a multivitamin if I ate even 1 tablespoon of liverwurst. That would increase the overdose of Vitamin A. I don't like thinking liver is more of a medicine than a food, to be used in minuscule amounts only, and therefore making it palatable is making it dangerous because you want to eat more than 1 tbsp. Thanks in advance for any replies.


  • The packages of the two brands say 25 or 27 g is 40% or 45% of the daily requirement for vitamin A. Yet when I type it in Cronometer it is well over 300%. This is unacceptable and as I don't know who's wrong, I'm giving it up. I tried to edit or delete my post but I can't find a way to do that, so it stays, sorry.

  • You are nowhere near toxic limits, enjoy the liverwurst, don't throw it away.

    Your body stores extra Vitamin A then uses it as needed. You can eat a little every day, or a lot once in a while, it's all the same. If you eat a lot every day, it will build up in your body, and can eventually become toxic. However, you have to eat a ridiculous amount of liverwurst to hit those levels. Something on the order of 1 tbsp of liverwurst per kg of body weight every day for 6 - 15 months.

    If you weigh only 50kg you would need to eat 1.5 pounds of liverwurst every day for six months to approach toxic levels.

    An 8oz steak of polar bear liver has about 6,000,000 IU of Vitamin A, it's as much as eating 8oz of liverwurst every day for six months.

  • @suze4

    For safety, I would probably not recommend eating more than 3 ounces of liver per week, which if you are only eating a Tbsp per day, you are likely well-within the normal limits.

    If liverwurst (or liver in general) becomes a regular part of your bloodwork, you may wish to ask your MD to do a quick check of vitamin A status, just to make sure that your levels are within normal limits.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • edited September 2019

    I buy liverwurst from us wellness meats and asked them the same question and they never responded . I've about 8 pounds of liverwurst in my freezer which works out to close to 255 days. I had no idea how toxic it is :(

  • @jeffscollie It's helpful to remember that the liver is one of the body's major detoxifying organs; sometimes harmful residues can be left behind. On the other hand, the liver provides a substantial source of nutrients. Moderation is key if you want to consume liver.

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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