Warning - Turkey liver is very high in vitamin A

mschauer

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Maybe others already know this but it came as a surprise to me. 

I put together a turkey only (meat, bones, heart, liver and gizzards) recipe and was surprised when the nutritional analysis showed the vitamin A content to be very high, a little over the NRC safe upper limit. At first I thought it was a bug in  my analysis program. After wasting a lot of time "debugging" my program I realized the problem is that turkey liver has 6.5 times the amount of vitamin A that chicken liver has. I had assumed they would have roughly the same amount.

Vitamin A is one of the fat soluable vitamins meaning that any excess consumed is stored in the body. Very large accumulations of vitamin A are known to cause serious health issues in cats. 

http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1+2243+2246&aid=709

Normally vitamin A toxicity is difficult to acheive because it requires very high quantities of vitamin A to be consumed frequently and over a long period of time. The recipe I put together could well result in toxicity if fed frequently. I was planning on feeding it 1 meal out of 4.

The recipe included 0.5 lb liver in a total of 11.5 lb making the liver 4.3% of the whole.

100 grams of turkey liver contains 72,383 IU of vitamin A vs 11,078 IU in chicken liver.

My recipe was 70% water so, my recipe contained 110,040 IU/kg vitamin A including the small amounts present in ingredients other than liver. The NRC recommends 5000 IU/kg and sets a safe upper limit of 100,000 IU/kg. The NRC recommendations are the amount per kg on a dry matter basis. 

I don't think turkey liver is readily available to most people but it may be for some as it is with me. Serving it occasionally should not be a concern. But using it frequently as our liver source is probably not a good idea.

============================================================================

100 grams turkey liver => 72383 IU vit A

0.5 lbs turkey liver = 226.8 grams

226.8 grams turkey liver => 164,164 IU vit A

11.5 lbs total recipe = 5216.4 grams = 5.2 kg

recipe total (DMB) = 5.2 kg * .30 = 1.56 kg

164,164 IU/1.56 kg = 105,233 IU/kg

Using chicken liver in place of the turkey liver results in 18,539 IU/kg, well within the safe limit. 
 
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auntie crazy

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Wow. Good to know; thanks, Mschauer!

Yet another illustration of the importance of diet variety!

AC
 

ritz

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Thanks for the info.  I guess when I get the innards from the turkey my sister in law is preparing, I'll think twice about the liver.

Ritz does not like beef hearts, loves chicken hearts and likes kidney.  One reason I still give Ritz commercial raw is because I can hide liver in it better than I can under a piece of raw meat.

I believe liver stores/filters the toxic stuff in the animal.  So I may start buying organic, natural, etc., chicken livers at the pet food store where I buy RadCat.  Or, am I being too paranoid, careful.
 
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mschauer

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Thanks for the info.  I guess when I get the innards from the turkey my sister in law is preparing, I'll think twice about the liver.
I wouldn't be worried about serving one liver. It is serving a lot of it over a long period of time that can cause toxicity.

I believe liver stores/filters the toxic stuff in the animal.  So I may start buying organic, natural, etc., chicken livers at the pet food store where I buy RadCat.  Or, am I being too paranoid, careful.
Some people say organic is always better. I haven't formed an opinion on it myself.
 

auntie crazy

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Originally Posted by mschauer  

Some people say organic is always better. I haven't formed an opinion on it myself.
I always say, it's just as much better for your cat as it is for you, and let the reader take that as they will.


AC
 
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mschauer

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I always say, it's just as much better for your cat as it is for you, and let the reader take that as they will.


AC
Yeah, but for me the question is whether it is really better even for us. But that is another issue...
 

auntie crazy

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I always say, it's just as much better for your cat as it is for you, and let the reader take that as they will.


AC
Yeah, but for me the question is whether it is really better even for us. But that is another issue...
I agree that a question exists, Mschauer. That's why I phrase my recommendation the way I do. (Put "however much that is" after "for you.")


AC
 

ritz

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I'm by nature skeptical or any health claims.  That said, I'm inclined to buy natural/organic liver from a high end pet food store (like Primal or Bravo or local Amish market) and non organ meat and meat from the supermarket.  (And I did break down and buy a stainless steel food bowl and threw away the ceramic bowl I bought for 25 cents from the thrift store.)
 
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mschauer

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Dang it!

I just realized the NRC safe upper limit for vitamin A is expressed as mcg/kg not IU/kg. Converting to IU/kg makes the safe upper limit 333,000 IU/kg not 100,000 IU/kg as I thought.

Also the AAFCO recommendations list the maximum for vitamin A as 750,000 IU/kg. I guess that isn't too surprised given the AAFCO value is adjusted for things like bioavailibility and losses 

during processing.

So turkey liver is still high in vitamin A but it isn't quite as easy to hit the safe upper limit with it as I thought!
 

auntie crazy

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Thank you very much for the clarification!!!!! I hadn't yet changed my cats' eating schedule, but I was planning to the next time I went shopping... currently, half their liver comes from chicken, half from turkey.

Thanks again for the update, Mschauer!

AC
 
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mschauer

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You're welcome AC.

Remember though that turkey liver does have 6.5 times the vitamin A that chicken liver has. I have found it very easy to exceed the NRC and AAFCO recommended values even with chicken liver.

I'm planning on using turkey liver less frequently now.
 
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mschauer

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Yup, chicken liver is OK.

Beef liver, btw, is high in copper. That isn't as much of a problem as the vitamin A in turkey liver but it is enough of a problem that I only use beef liver occasionally whereas I rarely use turkey liver.
 

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I am bumping an old thread, and can hopefully get confirmation from mschauer.  I was thinking about getting turkey liver for my cats as a rotating alternative to the chicken liver they've been getting and came across this old thread.  When I looked at the USDA nutrient database, I read that the turkey liver had 26901 IU for Vitamin A, not the amount that mschauer listed above.  Not sure how the two numbers are so different, am I reading something wrong?  I realize mschauer decided that even the higher number was still within the allowed Vit A limits, but I wanted to see if there were more recent thoughts on adding turkey liver to the raw diet. 

My feeding situation has slightly changed, in that one of my cats keeps vomiting when I feed him a raw meat other than ground turkey (mixed with Alnutrin and chicken liver).  So I started cooking different meats, dice it up, and add Alnutrin to balance for calcium, but without adding any liver.  They've been eating about 3/4 turkey, 1/4 other cooked meat (almost like a topper).  He is no longer vomiting and seems to enjoy the cooked meat.  But this now makes the nutrients that the liver provides a little lower overall, especially the Vit A.  I still think it is fine, since the turkey mix alone is above AAFCO's minimum to begin with, but that's how my thought process started for turkey liver, it has more Vit A. 

Thanks for the help!  Lori
 
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mschauer

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Well how about that! In the latest database version (sr25) the value is indeed 26901. I looked back at the previous two versions (sr23 and sr24) and the value was 72382. I'd bet someone made a boo boo and it finally got corrected! 


I always wondered why it was so much higher than chicken liver. Now we know!

I'm *so* glad you noticed that. Now I can go back to using turkey liver. 
 

lcat4

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Thanks for the confirmation! It has more than twice as much Vit A as chicken liver, so it should more than make up for my cooked meat mix being low in Vit A (when I do the Alnutrin calculator), but not put them in any danger of excess. Yeah!!!
 

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  Right now all I could find in the local stores are calf's liver, so that's what I bought.  At one time I could find all kinds of organ meats, not any more.  :(
 
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