There are many nutrient-dense foods that nature has provided us. Let’s talk about two in particular: liver and oysters.
Liver is known for its high protein content and it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods we have available to us. Liver contains many essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that are necessary for our bodies to perform and function optimally.
The beautiful thing about whole foods is that the micronutrients inside are in their active, bioavailable form, with certain cofactors (catalysts for certain enzymatic functions).
Our bodies aren’t meant to be given synthetic nutrients, and when this happens, our bodies essentially need to convert the inactive form of the vitamin or mineral into the active form. Consuming whole foods or whole food supplements will provide your body with the nutrients already in their active bioavailable form. Secondly, there are certain nutrients that need cofactors in order to be used in the body. Whole foods will already have these cofactors so there’s no need to take another supplement to get the cofactor.
The main nutrients in liver are bioavailable vitamin A (retinol), B vitamins, folate, copper, heme iron, vitamin D, choline and vitamin K2. Even though today I am speaking about nutrients, I do want to mention: the leucine content in 100g of beef liver is 2.7 g which is important when it comes to building muscle and turning on the mTOR pathway (stay tuned, we will be releasing another article talking all about leucine and mTOR!).
The second food I want to highlight today is oysters. Oysters are again, full of protein. Moreover, they contain high amounts of selenium, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, iodine, and copper. Similarly with liver, the vitamins and minerals in oysters are in their bioavailable active forms with all cofactors, so the body can readily utilize them.
Let’s discuss specific vitamins and minerals in these foods and why they are important. Let’s keep in mind however that ALL vitamins and minerals play an essential role in the body!
Copper, retinol and iron are very significant for energy metabolism in the body. The copper-dependent enzyme cytochrome c oxidase plays an essential role in the body for cellular energy production. This enzyme produces ATP (our energy molecule in the body) by catalyzing oxygen to water. Furthermore, adequate copper is necessary for iron metabolism. Retinol and vitamin D are needed to convert copper into ceruloplasmin to activate our iron recycling system and create energy in the body! Ceruloplasmin is copper bound to a protein. Ceruloplasmin carries copper around the body to the tissues that need it. If we don’t have bioavailable copper, there is metabolic dysfunction and cellular energy will slow.
In future articles, I will talk more about the relationship between zinc, copper, and iron, why selenium, iodine and zinc are important for thyroid health (your master metabolic gland) and the importance of macrominerals.