I found this very interesting article on the Westen Price Foundation, that is really worth a read. They site the scientific article responsible for the liver vitamin A warning.
"Unfortunately, FDA and other agencies warn pregnant women to avoid foods like liver and cod liver oil, claiming that too much vitamin A from these foods can cause birth defects. The study usually cited in support of these warnings was carried out in 1995 at the Boston University School of Medicine and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.5 In the study, researchers asked over 22,000 women to respond to questionnaires about their eating habits and supplement intake before and during pregnancy. Researchers found that cranial-neural crest defects increased with increased dosages of vitamin A; but neural tube defects decreased with increased vitamin A consumption, and no trend was apparent with musculoskeletal, urogenital or other defects.
This study is a poor rack on which to hang the myriad warnings that have kept pregnant women from eating liver and taking cod liver oil. Researchers made no distinction between synthetic vitamin A derived from multivitamins and processed food like margarine, and natural vitamin A from food; nor did they take blood samples to determine vitamin A status. Food recall surveys are a notoriously inaccurate method of determining nutrient intake."
So basically this warning against eating liver, comes from a food recall study (where you remember what you ate the day before and write it down?) and it didn't distinguish supplements from the form of vitamin A in liver. The article also goes on to talk about the necessity of Vitamin A in fetal development.
It also talks about safe levels of vitamin A from food sources, very important, because supplemental vitamin A can have negative health affects.
"A 1999 study carried out in Rome, Italy found no congenital malformations among 120 infants whose mothers consumed an average of 50,000 IU of vitamin A per day.7 Some participants consumed up to 300,000 IU vitamin A daily during pregnancy with no birth defects in the offspring. An average of 50,000 IU vitamin A per day is consistent with our recommendation of cod liver oil to supply 20,000 IU per day plus additional vitamin A in liver, butter, seafood and egg yolks"
This article also supplies sources (:
Here is what they say about Vitamin A toxicity, again the full article is worth a read.
"We have pointed out that concerns about vitamin A toxicity are exaggerated. While some forms of synthetic vitamin A found in supplements can be toxic at only moderately high doses, fat-soluble vitamin A naturally found in foods like cod liver oil, liver, and butterfat is safe at up to ten times the doses of water-soluble, solidified and emulsified vitamin A found in some supplements that produce toxicity.(1) Additionally, the vitamin D found in cod liver oil and butterfat from pasture-raised animals protects against vitamin A toxicity, and allows one to consume a much higher amount of vitamin A before it becomes toxic.(1-3) Liver from land mammals is high in vitamin A but low in vitamin D, and should therefore be consumed with other vitamin D-rich foods such as lard or bacon from pasture-raised pigs, egg yolks, and oily fish, or during months in which UV-B light is sufficient to provide one with adequate vitamin D.
As a general guideline, we recommend the following doses of vitamin A from cod liver oil, along with a nutrient-dense diet that contains other vitamin A-rich foods:
- Children age 3 months to 12 years: A dose of cod liver oil that provides about 5000 IU vitamin A daily, obtained from about 1 teaspoon of regular cod liver oil or ½ teaspoon of high-vitamin cod liver oil.
- Children over 12 years and adults: A maintenance dose of cod liver oil that provides about 10,000 IU vitamin A daily, obtained from 2 teaspoons of regular cod liver oil or 1 teaspoon of high-vitamin cod liver oil.
- Pregnant and nursing women: A dose of cod liver oil that provides about 20,000 IU vitamin A daily, obtained from 4 teaspoons regular cod liver oil or 2 teaspoons high-vitamin cod liver oil.
Individuals under stress or wishing to use cod liver oil to treat a disease condition may take much larger doses, even up to doses providing 90,000 IU vitamin A per day, for a period of several weeks."
I made chicken livers last night from a yummy recipe from Melissa Joulwan , I left out the cumin and cloves, because of the salicylic acid (makes me sick) and I used fresh grated garlic. The coconut coating gave it a more palatable texture. I still need to get used to liver, but this was okay. For my kids I chopped it up really small and mixed it in their meatballs. They knew something was different, but didn't know what, so they cautiously ate it. Them acting like I am poisoning them when I feed them is getting really old.
We were just in Mexico getting plenty of sun and vitamin D, so I'm not worried about Vitamin A toxicity. I tell you what though, I am gonna buy some cod liver oil and start making them take it. That gives Vitamin A and Vitamin D. And to think society tells us not to eat these things but to take Flinstones vitamins, ever read the ingredients to that?