Universal Uni-Liver Tablets: The OG Way to Supplement Vitamin A

Beef Liver Organ Meat

The most nutrient-dense foods are not vegetables — they’re organ meats! So what if we were to bring them back to the American diet? Today, we introduce an easy way to do that. Image courtesy The Provision House

High-protein diets are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to understand why: recent research has shown that eating a lot of protein is one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage your body’s energy balance.[1-5] A high-protein diet maximizes satiety, energy burn (from the thermogenic effect of food), and muscle synthesis, all of which helps you stay strong and lean.

In response to this information, many athletes and bodybuilders consciously maximize their consumption of meat and other protein-rich animal foods. In 2021, pan-fried steaks are a common sight on lifters’ social media pages, usually paired with a generous helping of eggs.

Eating steak and eggs is a great start, but most of us are still missing a crucial part of the picture: human nutrition is calibrated for “tip-to-tail” eating, which means that in order to achieve optimal health, we should consume every part of a butchered animal, not just the muscle meats that are commonly sold in American supermarkets and restaurants.

We need organ meats.

Uni-Liver PricePlow

Before organ meat consumption started trending back, one company has been telling you to eat liver all along: Universal Nutrition with their Uni-Liver tablets.

And as the bodybuilding and greater health community is realizing that organ meats are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, they’re bringing them back. “Knowing your butcher” has returned as a trend, getting organs put into ground meat is growing in popularity, and supplements and snacks made with organ meat are resurging.

Uni-Liver by Universal Nutrition: The Original Liver Tabs

Here in the supplement world, there’s one brand that’s been promoting liver for decades – before it became cool again. Universal Nutrition, creators of the famed Animal Pak, have long had Uni-Liver, which are desiccated liver tablets. Made from beef liver, they’re big, and they bring big nutrition with them.

In this article, we pay our respects to the original liver promoters – Universal Nutrition – but more importantly, talk about why liver and organ meats are so incredibly important and need to be brought back to the Western diet. First, we check on PricePlow’s Uni-Liver price listings, then get into the science

Universal Uni-Liver – Deals and Price Drop Alerts

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Why liver?

Among organ meats, liver is special. It’s far and away the single greatest source of vitamin A in the human diet. No other plant or animal source of the nutrient comes even close.

Active vitamins and nutrients

Vitamin A

Animal products bring the active form of Vitamin A. Image courtesy Wikimedia

In fact, vitamin A from plant sources isn’t even the active form of the vitamin! The carotenoids usually counted as “vitamin A” in plants are actually a precursor to retinol, the form of vitamin A that’s biologically active in the body.[6] In other words, carotenoids must be converted to retinol by the body before they can be used.[6]

Unfortunately, the efficiency of this conversion process varies greatly from person to person, depending on several factors, including genetics.[7] In many people, it’s highly inefficient,[7] meaning that plant-based vitamin-A sources are an unreliable and, for most people, a sub-optimal way to meet their daily requirements.

For the purpose of ensuring optimal vitamin A status, it’s a much better bet to eat animal products, including butter, egg yolk, and liver. These foods contain preformed retinol[6] that can be absorbed and utilized by the body without going through a rate-limited conversion process.[7]

Many of us are not eating enough of these foods to prevent vitamin A deficiency (VAD). According to the 2005-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination (NHANES) survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half the U.S. population gets inadequate amounts of vitamin A from their diet.[8]

That matters a lot, because vitamin A is absolutely essential for optimal health.

Why we need vitamin A: the thyroid connection

The first and most important thing to know about vitamin A is that it’s essential for optimal thyroid function. Vitamin A has been shown to modulate the function of the entire thyroid-pituitary axis.[9] Its deficiency, however, interferes with the thyroid’s iodine uptake,[9] which is a major problem because iodine deficiency on its own can lead to hypothyroidism or simply lower energy levels and slower metabolism. However, animal research indicates that vitamin A deficiency (VAD) combined with iodine deficiency can produce a more severe case of hypothyroidism than the mineral deficiency alone.[9]

Beef Liver Supplement

If you want to increase Vitamin A intake, there’s no better way to do it than with beef liver – and Uni-Liver provides a supplemental way to get it in without cooking or eating it!

Human research confirms this: in one study of Moroccan children with iodine deficiencies, researchers directly measured the effects of VAD. The greater the degree of VAD, the larger the child’s thyroid gland, and the higher the circulating level of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) – two important markers of poor thyroid health.[10] When the kids were given either iodine or a combination of iodine and vitamin A, the group receiving both showed a significantly better improvement in thyroid health than children receiving only iodine.[10]

In another study of healthy premenopausal women – that is, women without clinical thyroid disease who were under the age of 50 – vitamin A supplementation significantly reduced their TSH levels, which indicates improved thyroid function. It also increased triiodothyronine (T3) while decreasing thyroxine (T4).[11] Since T3 is the active thyroid hormone and T4 is its precursor, this is another indication of optimized thyroid function in healthy individuals. In other words, your thyroid can potentially benefit from vitamin A supplementation even if you don’t have active thyroid disease.

So why does all this thyroid stuff matter?

Thyroid Metabolism Regulation

The thyroid affects nearly everything,[12] and we want it functioning as well possible. Appropriate iodine and active vitamin A are two critically important components for that.

The thyroid is the “master gland” of the whole human metabolism – thyroid function regulates the all-important basal metabolic rate (BMR).[12] A slow thyroid means a slow metabolism, which is why hypothyroidism is strongly associated with unwanted weight gain, often culminating in full-blown obesity.[12]

Besides increasing the metabolic rate, thyroid hormone (TH) also regulates leptin,[13] the “satiety hormone” that tells you to stop eating when your stomach is full.

Put simply, if you want to burn more energy and eat less food, naturally, you should think about optimizing your thyroid function through adequate vitamin A intake – and massive amounts of the active form are found in liver meat and bovine liver tabs like Uni-Liver.

What else does vitamin A do for us?

Other benefits of good vitamin A status include:

  • Anti-obesity, anti-diabetic effects In animal studies, stimulating vitamin A receptors, also known as retinoic acid receptors (RARs), has been shown to have anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects, partly because RAR activity normalizes insulin sensitivity.[14] In mice that were bred to have minimal RAR activity, glucose metabolism was significantly disturbed.[15]

  • Improved sleep Stimulating RARs in mice has also been observed to improve the quality of REM sleep and stave off age-related decline in sleep quality.[16]

  • Better fertility Vitamin A appears to be crucial for male fertility, since RAR activity is centrally implicated in the formation of new sperm,[17] and RAR knockout mice (mice whose retinoic acid receptors have been genetically switched off) show impaired testicular function.[18]

  • Universal Animal Immune Pak

    Universal Animal Immune Pak comes in both paks (pills) and powder, and has many of the ingredients we preach for modern immune concerns!

    An immunity boost RAR stimulation helps facilitate the formation of immune cells,[19] and vitamin A deficiency seems to dampen immune response.[20] Put simply, optimal vitamin A status may be needed for optimal immune function.

    Note that this is one of several reasons why we included Uni-Liver in our immunity stack when previously discussing Animal Pak Immune.

  • Gut health In cell culture studies, vitamin A has been shown to help maintain the epithelial barrier in stomach cell matrices,[21] thus helping to prevent ulcerative colitis, also known as “leaky gut.” It’s a condition in which undigested food leaks out of the gut. If left untreated, leaky gut can lead to inflammatory disorders, including autoimmune disease.[22]

  • Skin and eye health Vitamin A is also famed for its role in promoting skin health[23] and eye health.[24]

This list is not by any means comprehensive – there are other potential benefits associated with optimal vitamin A status that we haven’t listed here. But for healthy, young, active people, we believe these are the benefits that are most relevant.

Can we get too much vitamin A?

Universal Nutrition Throwback

A long scroll back into the @UniversalUSA feed shows some incredible memories and wild times

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes – It’s quite possible to get too much vitamin A.

Unlike water soluble vitamins, which are simply eliminated from the body when taken in excess, vitamin A can accumulate in body fat. If chronically overdosed, it can reach toxic levels.[25]

We strongly recommend staying within the tolerable upper limit of vitamin A intake, which is 3,000 micrograms per day[26] of retinol from all sources (for both men and women), not just your supplements.

Below we run some strategies for optimizing (yet avoiding over-consumption) of the critical vitamin:

How much vitamin A is in a single serving of Uni-Liver?

One 60-grain serving of desiccated beef liver (2 tablets) will give you about 700 IU of retinol, which is equivalent to 200 micrograms[26,27] – a little less than a third of the vitamin A daily value (DV) of 900 micrograms per day for men (it’s 700 for women).[26] Considering that you probably get some carotenoids and retinol from your diet, this is potentially enough as a supplemental dose, at least for the purposes of preventing vitamin A deficiency.

Grass-Fed Liver Tablets

We calculate that two tablets has 200 micrograms of Vitamin A

Of course, once you’ve calculated your total retinol intake, you can consider increasing your dosage above the 2 tablet serving. Just make sure your final total is within the tolerable upper limit of 3,000 micrograms per day and be absolutely sure to factor all sources of vitamin A into your calculation of your overall intake – including other supplements.

Go-to dose: 2 tablets, three times a day with meals

Many of Universal’s long-time health enthusiasts have simply normalized taking two tablets with three meals a day, getting themselves an additional 600 micrograms total, on top of the protein and other micronutrients added in:

Is there anything else in beef liver tablets?

Beef liver is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, but with the relatively small serving sizes, the other major vitamin inside is vitamin B12. A single two-tablet serving of Universal’s Uni-Liver will give you about 40% of the DV for vitamin B12,[28] nothing to sneeze at.

Additionally, two tablets provide 3 grams of protein, and if you take that three times daily, an additional 9g of protein in your diet can actually move your macros a fair percentage.

Uni-Liver: the OG beef liver supplement

Animal Pak Red White and Blue Woman

Train like the Animal you are – get back to eating organ meats!

Uni-Liver is a natural desiccated and defatted liver tablet made from Argentine beef liver. It’s cold-processed for purity, and sourced from grass-fed, hormone-free cattle.

At the recommended dose of two tablets per serving, desiccated liver is most importantly a supercharged vitamin A supplement that actually works, and brings some protein along with it. And in light of the nutrient’s many crucial roles in human health, and the pervasive deficiency created, in part, by the American food supply, boosting our intake is a very good reason to take a desiccated liver supplement – especially if you don’t want to cook organ meats.

In general, it’s better to get nutrients in their natural forms— from whole-food sources—as opposed to synthetic or isolated forms. That’s why we recommend meeting your vitamin A supplementation needs with a desiccated liver product like Uni-Liver.

Universal Uni-Liver – Deals and Price Drop Alerts

Get Price Alerts

No spam, no scams.

Disclosure: PricePlow relies on pricing from stores with which we have a business relationship. We work hard to keep pricing current, but you may find a better offer.

Posts are sponsored in part by the retailers and/or brands listed on this page.

About the Author: Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is an n=1 diet experimenter with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several experiments done on himself while sharing lab tests.

Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

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References

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  2. Noakes, Manny, et al; “Effect Of An Energy-Restricted, High-Protein, Low-Fat Diet Relative To A Conventional High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fat Diet On Weight Loss, Body Composition, Nutritional Status, And Markers Of Cardiovascular Health In Obese Women”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81.6 (2005): 1298-1306; https://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/6/1298.long
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  13. Blum WF, Englaro P, Attanasio AM, Kiess W, Rascher W. Human and clinical perspectives on leptin. Proc Nutr Soc. 1998 Aug;57(3):477-85. doi: 10.1079/pns19980068; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9794007/
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  15. Brun, Pierre-Jacques et al. “Retinoic acid receptor signaling is required to maintain glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and β-cell mass.” FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology vol. 29,2 (2015): 671-83. doi:10.1096/fj.14-256743; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4314234/
  16. Kitaoka, K., et al. “Disturbance of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep in Senescence-Accelerated Mouse Prone/8 Mice Is Improved by Retinoic Acid Receptor Agonist Am80 (Tamibarotene).” Neuroscience, vol. 167, no. 3, May 2010, pp. 573–582, 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.01.059; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030645221000151X
  17. Wolgemuth, D J, and S S W Chung. “Retinoid signaling during spermatogenesis as revealed by genetic and metabolic manipulations of retinoic acid receptor alpha.” Society of Reproduction and Fertility supplement vol. 63 (2007): 11-23; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3796155/
  18. Lufkin T, Lohnes D, Mark M, Dierich A, Gorry P, Gaub MP, LeMeur M, Chambon P. High postnatal lethality and testis degeneration in retinoic acid receptor alpha mutant mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Aug 1;90(15):7225-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.90.15.7225. PMID: 8394014; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8394014/
  19. Larange, Alexandre, and Hilde Cheroutre. “Retinoic Acid and Retinoic Acid Receptors as Pleiotropic Modulators of the Immune System.” Annual Review of Immunology, vol. 34, no. 1, 20 May 2016, pp. 369–394, 10.1146/annurev-immunol-041015-055427. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019; https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/10.1146/annurev-immunol-041015-055427
  20. Pino-Lagos, Karina et al. “Retinoic acid in the immune system.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences vol. 1143 (2008): 170-87. doi:10.1196/annals.1443.017; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3826166/
  21. Osanai, M., et al. “Cellular Retinoic Acid Bioavailability Determines Epithelial Integrity: Role of Retinoic Acid Receptor Agonists in Colitis.” Molecular Pharmacology, vol. 71, no. 1, 11 Oct. 2006, pp. 250–258, 10.1124/mol.106.029579; https://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/content/71/1/250
  22. Arrieta, M C et al. “Alterations in intestinal permeability.” Gut vol. 55,10 (2006): 1512-20. doi:10.1136/gut.2005.085373; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC1856434/
  23. Basavaraj, K H et al. “Diet in dermatology: present perspectives.” Indian journal of dermatology vol. 55,3 (2010): 205-10. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.70662; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2965901/
  24. Zasada, Malwina, and Elżbieta Budzisz. “Retinoids: active molecules influencing skin structure formation in cosmetic and dermatological treatments.” Postepy dermatologii i alergologii vol. 36,4 (2019): 392-397. doi:10.5114/ada.2019.87443; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6791161/
  25. Penniston KL, Tanumihardjo SA. The acute and chronic toxic effects of vitamin A. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):191-201. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.2.191. PMID: 16469975. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16469975/
  26. Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Micronutrients. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001. 4, Vitamin A; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK222318/
  27. “IU to Mcg Converter | Vitamin a Conversion – AZCalculator.” AZCalculator; https://www.azcalculator.com/calc/iu-to-mcg-vitamin-a.php
  28. “Beef, Variety Meats and By-Products, Liver, Raw Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutritiondata.self.com; https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3468/2

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