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Monday, 17 November 2014

How Often Should You Eat Liver for Iron Intake?

by Suzanne Robin

Some types of liver contain more iron than others.
You don't need to ever eat liver to get your daily dose of iron; many foods, including meat, poultry, fish and vegetables contain iron. Liver does serve as an excellent source of dietary iron, but you can easily meet your iron needs without ever eating it. Eating too much liver, particularly liver with a very high iron content, can cause health problems in some cases. Some types of animal liver contain more iron than others.

Daily Iron Requirements

The amount of liver you should eat daily to meet your iron requirement depends on your gender and age. Men and women have different iron requirements throughout the adult years; women's needs also vary according to age. Women of reproductive age need 18 milligrams per day because of blood loss during menstrual periods. Since hemoglobin in red blood cells contains iron, blood loss can lead to iron-deficiency anemia. After age 51 or the time of menopause, a woman's iron need decreases to 8 milligrams per day. Men over age 19 also need 8 milligrams of iron per day.

Iron in Liver

The amount of iron in liver varies considerably depending on the type of liver you eat. Beef liver contains much less iron, around 5 milligrams per 3-ounce serving, compared with chicken liver, which contains 11 milligrams per 3-ounce serving. A 2 1/2-ounce serving of pork liver supplies 13.4 milligrams. Goose liver contains a large amount of iron, 28.7 milligrams per 100-gram serving, which is approximately 3 ounces. Eating goose liver daily could exceed your iron requirement for the day, which in some cases could cause health problems.

Excessive Iron Risks

If you have hematochromatosis, a disorder which increases the amount of iron your body absorbs, eating liver frequently could cause health complications. People with hematochromatosis absorb 30 percent or more of the iron they consume, according to While iron plays an essential role in carrying oxygen throughout your body, high iron levels can build up and harm vital organs. Eating liver daily, particularly liver high in iron such as goose liver over a period of five to 20 years could cause excess iron to accumulate in your heart, pancreas or liver. Excess iron in the liver can cause liver damage, including an increased risk of liver cancer.


The iron in liver is heme iron, meaning that it comes from an animal source. Plants contain nonheme iron. Your body absorbs heme iron more effectively than nonheme iron; you absorb between 15 to 35 percent of the heme iron in liver, compared with between 2 and 20 percent of nonheme iron. Because you absorb more iron from liver than other nonheme iron sources, eating a serving of beef liver that contains 5 milligrams of iron will increase your iron stores more than eating a serving of kidney beans that contains approximately the same amount of iron.

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