Can You Eat Bear Liver
It is a warning from the US food department that eating the polar bear’s liver is highly toxic for humans because of containing a high concentration of vitamin A which causes acute hypervitaminosis A. It results in vomiting, bone damage, hair loss, birth defects, blurred vision, and even death.
While researching fact and fiction about Vitamin A Hypervitaminosis, I found that I could corroborate, through published scientific data, why it is not worth eating any kind of fetus or sealed liver. Unsurprisingly, most cases of A Hypervitaminosis are NOT caused by humans eating the livers of polar bears (not that either one of us has the opportunity to do so) but rather by excessive use of vitamins pills. Back to the polar bear story, when you eat polar bear liver, you are basically taking in 18,000IUs of vitamin A per gram of liver. So great is the ability of the polar bears to store vitamin A, if you consumed the liver, you were likely to suffer from Hypervitaminosis A.
The livers of the polar bear, much like the livers of Arctic seals and huskies, contain extraordinarily high levels of retinol (a form of vitamin A found in members of the animal kingdom). The polar bears liver contains so much vitamin K, A, D, and E (which are all fat-soluble) that if you eat more than 1.4 ounces per month, it could poison you. For storage, the liver stores vitamin A, which is not water soluble, so it cannot be easily removed by the body. Vitamin A may be found in various animal foods, with liver having the highest concentration.
While it is true that plants have no vitamin A, they contain compounds called carotenoids, which can be converted by the body into vitamin A. Beta-carotene, found in things like carrots, spinach, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, and oatmeal, is a common precursor for vitamin A. These plants contain a variety of carotenoids, which are concentrated higher up in the food chain and act as precursors to vitamin A. Because they are the highest carnivores, bears are able to store vitamin A from lower down in the food chain, which is produced from marine algae. The livers of some animals, particularly those that are adapted for polar environments, often contain amounts of vitamin A that would be toxic to humans.
Animals living in cold environments typically have very high amounts of vitamin A in the liver, because it is so beneficial in freezing environments. The livers of polar bears, walruses, bearded seals, elk, and huskies may have very high levels of preformed vitamin A, and the consumption of the livers of polar bears has led to vitamin A poisoning (hypervitaminosis A) according to some anecdotal reports. A group of researchers tested a number of livers collected from Greenland polar bears and found them enriched in vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin stored mostly in the liver. Two members of Far East Party, a Antarctic expedition, were likely poisoned with vitamin A after eating livers from their mountain lions.
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In an unlucky accident, a bear came out of nowheresodainlyand grabbed one of the Dutch exploration partys necks. Truly human-eating bear attacks are rare, but are known to happen when animals are sick, or when there is little natural prey, which usually leads to them attacking and eating whatever they can kill.
Indigenous Arcticers have never shied away from cooking some sort of stew with the polar bear, but have known for some time to steer clear of eating the livers of a variety of Arctic creatures. The locals have known about the danger for some time, and so have the explorers, although some do not seem too ill after eating liver.
In 1924, one Norwegian explorer–F. Nansen–shared that eating small portions of a bears liver HAD no consequences on two occasions. One official promised to never again eat bear liver, however tempting, after his crew showed symptoms similar to CO poisoning. His work describes how members of a 1596 Arctic expedition–an expedition led by Barentzoon, originally headed for Novaya Zembla–ate the livers of bears in the Arctic and became sick. In three cases, the disease was serious, resulting in the loss of skin from head to foot, wrote Richardson, who was recounted in later published work by Rodahl and Moore.
|In 1924||Norwegian explorer–F. Nansen||shared that eating small portions of a bears liver HAD no consequences on two occasions|
|1596||Arctic expedition||-ate the livers of bears in the Arctic and became sick|
Yes, it is possible to die from eating polar bears, it could be due to hypervitaminosis A, due to eating too much of their liver, or from Trichinellosis, if the meat is not cooked sufficiently to kill any Trichinella parasites. Would-be polar bear meat connoisseurs need to be aware of the potential for adverse side effects, especially hypervitaminosis A, a Vitamin overdose you could get from eating its liver. Just as bad is trichinosis, a parasitic illness contracted from eating the raw or undercooked flesh of pigs or wild game, including bears.
Because the bears liver contains high levels of vitamin A, indigenous peoples avoided it, and, as with explorers and whalers, gave it only to their dogs. There was definitely something about bear liver that, when consumed in small amounts, was completely okay for humans. I realize the insides of the bears internal organs have toxic levels of Vitamin A, which is not to be eaten, and that the whole meat must have been cooked very carefully, due to the trichinosis.
One liver of two-year-old female bear contains 18000 International Units of Vitamin A per gram. Vitamin A is recommended daily intake (RDA) for humans is 0.9 mg, and a well-fed polar bear could deliver this amount as liver in just a tenth of a gram. Bears excrement contains nutrients like protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin C, and fiber.
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Bear meat is also high in minerals like iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium, sodium, calcium, and chloride. Bear liver is rich in vitamins A, B6, C, D, E, K, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium, sodium, chloride, phosphorus, sulfur, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, biotin, biotin, biotin, biotin, biotin, biotin, biotin, and choline. Polar bear fat provides the Inuit with Vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower their risk of heart disease… Polar bear meat is a great source of iron and protein.
The occasional absence of liver toxicity reported by some researchers may be explained by differences in bear ages, wintering habits, and food intake. The fact that some explorers reported no liver toxicity could be explained by the bears age, hibernation and eating patterns. The story that lies behind that scientific account is one of ancient knowledge passed down through generations of Inuit, Yupik, or Aleut, confirmed by Arctic travelers, and more recently, many Canadians themselves, that the liver of the polar bear is toxic when consumed by humans or dogs.
Why is bear liver poisonous?
Polar bears retain a significant amount of vitamin A, particularly in their liver, due to their abundance of fatty tissue. Vitamin A has a dangerous upper limit, much like practically any other medication. Acute hypervitaminosis often referred to as vitamin A poisoning, can be brought on by the liver. Nausea, hair loss, bone deterioration, and possibly death follow.
Is bear liver good for you?
1/10th of a gram of the liver from an adequately fed polar bear provides the 0.9 mg of vitamin A that is necessary for humans each day. The entire liver has 52 adult deaths’ worth of vitamin A in it. Vitamin A causes the toxic nature of polar bear liver. Gourmet food includes the black bear liver. Occasionally, at least in black bears, trichinosis is discovered in bear flesh.