“You haven’t to be eating noþeles weird, have you?” my physician asked. “Like, really weird?” i was emotion crappy, and a routine panel of lab tests showed that my liver was sending out out a soft distress signal. Currently we to be trying to number out why.

You are watching: Can you eat polar bear liver

I didn’t think I had been eating anything weird, but I asked for clarification anyway. Friend never know if your normal might be someone else’s weird. “You’re no eating polar be afflicted with livers, right?” she continued. I shook mine head. I have actually never consumed a polar be affected by each other liver. Ns don’t even like regular cow livers. I once had to eat a piece of liver to it is in polite and also it practically gagged me.

But the doctor’s question intrigued me. Who is eat polar be affected by each other livers? and also why would they make friend sick? i dove into the deep end of the web to find out.

In 1596, a team of dutch explorers set out to uncover a northern sea i from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Just two months into the expedition, their ship came to be icebound near Novaya Zemlya, a Russian archipelago in the Arctic sea. So the guys scavenged lumber, constructed a house, and also hunkered under to pass the lengthy, frigid winter “in an excellent cold, poverty, misery, and griefe,” follow to the diary that Gerrit de Veer, an officer top top the crew.

Novaya Zemlya to be polar be affected by each other country, and also “beare” encounters to be frequent. In one unfortunate incident, a bear come “sodainly steal out” and caught one of the guys by the neck. When the other guys attempted a rescue, the be afflicted with “fiercely and also cruelly ran in ~ them, and also gat an additional of them out from the companie, which she tare in peeces,” de Veer writes. Not surprisingly, “all the rest ran away.”

But the bears resulted in other obstacles too. One fair day in May, when the team tried to construct a new boat that would bring them off that godforsaken island, an additional bear appeared. The men hid in the house and also shot her. And then they walk something they would concerned regret—they cooked she liver and also ate it. The meat went down easy, but the guys soon dropped ill. 3 of them became “exceeding sicke,” de Veer writes. “All their skins came of from the foote to the head.” Improbably, this skinless men recovered, “for the i beg your pardon we gave God heartie thankes.”

Why the men ended up being “exceeding sicke” didn’t come to be clear until the 1940s. A team of researchers tested a few livers gathered from polar bears in Greenland and also discovered the they’re chock complete of vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that is stored primarily in the liver. One liver native a two-year-old woman bear contained 18,000 international units the vitamin A per gram. The US daily recommended allowance of vitamin A for adults is in between 2,300 and also 4,300 global units.

Vitamin A dram a critical role in eye health, and helps bolster the immune system. Yet too much—a condition called hypervitaminosis A—can reason toxic effects including nausea, headache, fatigue, dizziness, and the telltale loss of skin that de Veer described.

And it’s not simply polar bears. Other Arctic pets such as arctic foxes, moustache seals, and glaucous gulls have similarly toxic livers. And so do some fish. The literature contains case reports of vitamin A poisoning native the livers of ocean perch, grouper, and also several tropical fish.

Why some pets have toxicity livers and also others perform not isn’t entirely clear. One team of researcher posits the the Arctic’s top predators have developed a better capacity to store vitamin A to deal with a vitamin A-rich diet. Yet I couldn’t uncover a good explanation because that why their diet would be any kind of richer in vitamin A than the diet of various other top predators approximately the globe.

Whatever the reason, the blog post seems clear: remain away native polar bear livers. Some can assume the de Veer’s gripping account the his party’s liver-induced condition would serve as a cautionary tale to future Arctic explorers. However not anyone heeded the warning. American explorer and also surgeon Elisha Kane considered the rumors around polar bear liver gift poisonous “vulgar prejudice.” During his visit come the Arctic in the 1950s, Kane “ate that it openly myself and succeeded in making the a favorite dish through the mess,” he wrote. That arrangement sometimes backfired. After eat a cub’s liver, Kane developed vertigo and diarrhea. Looking for reproducible results, Kane “repeated the experiment numerous times afterward, and sometimes, yet not always, through the same result.” The polar bear liver “may periodically be an ext savory 보다 safe,” the concluded.


Images courtesy the Wikimedia Commons here and also here

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