As with the last part I’m providing a cliff’s notes portion to get a quick dose of the information.
Grass-fed/pastured and organic animals have healthy livers
– Grass-fed/pastured organic liver contains fewer and safer levels of toxins and heavy metals, giving you the benefit without the negative side effects.
– Great source of Vitamin A, CLA, Vitamin K2 and a modest source of vitamin D
– One of the only natural sources of Coenzyme Q10 (heart healthy compound)
– Statin Drugs inhibit your body’s ability to produce CoQ10
Grass-fed / pastured meats are higher in vitamins and antioxidants
– Grass-fed / pastured beef contains 7 times more Vitamin A (beta carotene) then grain-fed
– Grass-fed / pastured beef contains 3 times more Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) then grain-fed
– Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of the anti-oxidants glutathione and super oxide dismutase
– Food sources of vitamins and anti-oxidants are superior to supplemental sources.
– Vitamin A and E in supplemental form may actually be detrimental
Without further ado!
3. Grass fed/pastured and organic animals have healthy livers
Organic, pasture raised animals graze on what they were biologically evolved to eat. Because of this their livers contain safer levels of heavy metals and other toxins (8) when compared to grain fed meats. Keep in mind that all meats will contain some heavy metals regardless of source (8). Liver contains an enormous amount of easily absorbable Vitamin A, modest amounts of Vitamin D, CLA, Vitamin K2 and some nifty nutrients not found from other food sources like Coenzyme Q10.
Vitamin D has recently been in the news because it appears that many Americans have been becoming deficient in vitamin D for a variety of proposed reasons including underexposure to the sun, use of sun blocks, suboptimal levels of vitamin D in the diet and obesity (9). Vitamin D is incredibly important in the body and has even been linked to reduced risk of bone diseases, cancers (23-25) and muscle weakness. It is believed to have a link to multiple sclerosis (26,27), type 1 diabetes (28) and even may have performance enhancement benefits for sport (29). For more information about the health benefits of vitamin D check out this link. ( http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/.fulltext/10/2/94.PDF )
Unfortunately, due to getting less Vitamin D in our diets and underexposure to the sun our vitamin D levels have declined in recent years (9). Keep in mind that as much as 50% of the population appears to be deficient in Vitamin D (9) and it may appear wise to seek out additional sources of vitamin D in the diet. Vitamin D is found in very few sources of food, the main reason why we fortify our foods with it. The best sources of dietary vitamin D are from liver, especially fish liver and other fatty fish (30).
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is another useful compound that is only really found in a few select food sources including animal liver and heart. Coenzyme Q10 has been found to be helpful in reducing hypertension, heart failure, as well as decreasing your risk of atherosclerosis after a recent heart attack (11, 12, 13). Your body naturally produces CoQ10, but its ability to produce it declines with age (as your risk for heart disease rises). Another interesting factoid is that statin drugs inhibit your body’s ability to produce CoQ10 by inhibiting the same pathway used by the body to produce cholesterol (10). Given the prevalence of statin drugs being used in the US it might be
prudent to add some of this nutrient to our diet.
Liver, especially fish liver is particularly high in essential fatty acids like Omega 3. Omega-3 fatty acids are discussed in detail in part 3. I guess grandma was right about eating liver. I personally really enjoy liverwurst and braunschweiger from US Wellness Meats. Its a delicious and easy way to get this health food into your diet. For ordering information click the banner at the top right of my page.
4. Grass-fed / pastured meats are higher in vitamins and antioxidants
Grass fed beef has been shown to contain higher levels of vitamin A and E as well as the antioxidants glutathione and Super Oxide Dismutase. This study (14) provides evidence that 50% of the US population gets less then 50% of the RDA for vitamin A. By the way, vitamin A and E are found in large amounts in liver, pate anyone?
Research shows that there is up 3 times more alpha tocopherol and 7 times more beta carotene in grass fed beef then grain fed (5). Beta carotene is a precursor to vitamin A in the human body and alpha-tocopherol is a heavily researched form of vitamin E. Beta Carotene is also a well studied antioxidant. If you are afraid to consume meat because of some of the proposed deleterious effects and decide to supplement with vitamins A and E instead you may want to rethink that idea. An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (16) looked at 68 randomized trials and 230,000 participants to take a look at the effect of supplemental beta-carotene, vitamin A and E on mortality (deaths). Unfortunately, the usage of vitamin A and E supplements significantly correlated with increased mortality (16)! This means that taking long term vitamin A and E supplements may lead to death earlier then without it. Utilizing supplemental vitamin A and E products may not be advantageous, but we still need vitamin A and E in our diets. Eating whole foods from sources such as animal products seems to fit the bill here.
Another reason to get your nutrition from whole foods, ie: vegetables, fruits and pastured animal products come from a 2009 article from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (17). They offer the concept of food synergy. In other words we don’t completely understand the complex interaction of nutrients contained in food once they enter the body to be digested (17). The nutrient mixture found in whole foods appears to have benefits above and beyond single nutrient supplementation that in many cases is not fully understood yet.
With all the information that has been presented in this article as well as the health benefits vitamins and minerals have in the human body it makes sense that a multi-vitamin would be essential to optimal health right? Well maybe not (18). In a 2009 study from the Archives of Internal Medicine following 160,000 post menopausal women over 8 years, multivitamin supplementation had little to no influences over common cancers (breast, ovarian, endometrial, colorectal, lung), cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and all cause mortality (18).
Supplementation may not be the best way to get the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that our bodies need. Maybe we should just be eating high quality real food to achieve optimal health?
Stay tuned for 3rd and thrilling final post next monday! Thanks for reading.
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