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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is liver high or low in Vitamin K?

As a liver lover who must take Coumadin, I am finding conflicting information about the Vitamin K content in Beef, Chicken, and Pork Liver. Since Vitamin K is synthesized in the liver, one would assume the Vitamin K content is high. However, it is listed as low in your publication and high in others. Please explain.

Thank you for making sense of Coumadin and Vitamin K. Rest assured your publications are in a prominent place in my kitchen and referenced regularly.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Liver and onions

Vitamin K is not "synthesized," or created (the definition of "synthesize") in the liver. Nor does the liver accumulate toxins as if it were the body's oil filter. The liver produces enzymes that are used to break down chemicals in the body - and that includes everything from medications and alcohol to the chemicals in processed foods.

As to why other publications list liver as being high in Vitamin K, I couldn't venture a guess. Our information on Vitamin K content comes from the USDA, the industry standard of nutrition information, which shows that fresh beef, pork, and chicken liver would be considered low in Vitamin K.

Here's the nutrition breakdown on common varieties of liver:

Beef liver, 4 ounces: 153 calories, 4.11g fat, 1.4g saturated fat, 0g fiber, 3.5mcg Vitamin K

Chicken liver, 4 ounces (about 2.5 average-sized chicken livers): 136 calories, 5.5g fat, 1.8g saturated fat, 0g fiber, 0g Vitamin K

Pork liver, 4 ounces: 151 calories, 4.1g fat, 1.3g saturated fat, 0g fiber, 0mcg Vitamin K

Veal (Calf) liver, 4 ounces: 159 calories, 5.5g fat, 1.8g saturated fat, 0g fiber, 1mcg Vitamin K

Thanks for your kind words about our books and Web site.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet