Shalley Carrell wrote this blog but we are sharing it here also.
VITAMINS IN BEEF TALLOW REVEALED
HAVE YOU HEARD THE CLAIMS?
Have you ever come across claims about the exceptional vitamin content in tallow? Advertisements, social media posts, and product descriptions often boast about tallow being "chock full of," "rich in," "loaded with," or "packed with" essential vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some even extend their claims to include B vitamins.
But how accurate are these assertions?
While tallow is widely celebrated for its purported miraculous skin benefits, we set out to investigate the validity of claims regarding its vitamin content. Can the vitamins in beef tallow truly address various skin issues and make you look a decade younger?
Too often, such claims are attributed to influencers and experts, yet when one tries to trace their sources, they typically lead to questionable sites. Attempting to seek clarification often results in silence, leaving the origin of these claims vague and unreliable.
Driven by a desire for transparency and accurate information, we embarked on a journey to conduct independent lab tests to unravel the truth about the vitamins in beef tallow.
It's essential to note that our lab tests were conducted independently and at our own expense, motivated by both the need for consumer assuredness and the commitment of beauty brand owners to truth and knowledge. Our aim is to ensure that the products consumers purchase align with the claims made by businesses. Furthermore, this initiative may uncover unique qualities that set us apart from competitors.
As pioneers in this research space, we've devoted extensive hours searching for credible data on the nutritional aspects of tallow. We hope to dispel myths circulating in the tallow-verse and spark conversations and further research.
This project is not the final word on the matter; rather, it marks the beginning. We encourage readers to conduct their own experiments and lab tests, fostering a community of shared information and discovery. Who knows, maybe we will apply for funding for a larger scale, more intensive set of studies someday?
Our tests were conducted at Eurofins in Iowa, recommended by Shalley's local land grant university, a global lab service catering to various testing needs, including nutrition and cosmetics.
THE NEED FOR LAB TESTING
While acknowledging the remarkable anecdotal evidence of tallow's efficacy in skincare, we express the need for clinical trials on human subjects. These trials should explore the effectiveness of tallow on various cutaneous ailments. Additionally, studies on quality metrics, such as animal diet, safety concerns related to GMOs, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, deuterium levels, and potential plastic leaching during processing, are crucial. Stability tests for rancidity and pathogens should also be explored.
Our specific test focuses on establishing a baseline for nutritional values in 100% grass-fed and finished beef tallow, as no existing data could be found for comparison.
The data below is from the USDA’s database for Beef Tallow per 100g. No information is provided for how the animals were raised, nor how the tallow was processed.
We are also including results from lab tests performed by the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2009 for Vitamins A, D, and K. It was determined that the results from the Covance lab were more reliable.
OUR BEEF TALLOW SAMPLE
When we refer to "tallow," we specifically mean fat rendered only from suet. Suet comes from ruminant animals. Our composite sample for testing includes beef tallow from four farms in the US and Canada, all practicing regenerative agriculture (100% forage fed and finished). The tallow in the sample underwent dry rendering at a maximum temperature of 215°F, ensuring the stability of fat-soluble vitamins.
Our results aim to shed light on the nutritional composition of what we consider to be some of the highest quality beef tallow available.
ADDITIONAL INSIGHT INTO TALLOW PURIFICATION
In our pursuit of understanding the impact of purification on tallow, we previously submitted for testing a sample of cosmetic-grade tallow (refined with saltwater until it became odorless and pure white). For detailed information on the fatty acid test results, please refer to our blog post titledDelving Deeper Into the Impact of Tallow Purification.
Notably, this refined sample did not register for fat-soluble vitamins. We requested the lab to conduct the test again at their lowest detection levels, and once more, no vitamins were detected. This leads us to strongly consider the possibility that the process of saltwater refining may remove vitamins from the tallow. Our assumption is supported by the fact that when tallow is refined to a white hue, the removal of beta-carotenes, responsible for the characteristic yellow color, is necessary. Therefore, it appears that the elimination of these color-contributing elements may also strip away essential vitamins from the tallow.
So let’s take a look at the results and see how they compare to others.
Our lab results did not detect Vitamin D levels above the minimal levels of 70 - 80 IU per 100g. The USDA's stated level is 0.7 micrograms, equating to 28 IU for total Vitamin D2 + D3. WAPF’s Covance test came back as <4 for D3 and <2 for D2.
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) for Vitamin D is 400 to 800 IU for most people, depending on age. Depending on your skin tone and geographical location, you can get 400 IU of this very important vitamin with only a few minutes of sun exposure.
According to Dr. Robert Ashley of UCLA Health:
The major source of our body's vitamin D comes from our own production in the skin. This requires the ultraviolet rays from sunlight to form vitamin D3; both the liver and the kidneys are needed to then create the active form of vitamin D.
A therapeutic topical dose of vitamin D can be 3000 to 5000 IU. Unfortunately, beef tallow is an insignificant source of Vitamin D, according to our findings.
Contrary to expectations, our sample did not exhibit significant beta-carotene levels but revealed the presence of retinol. Retinol is the most bioavailable form of Vitamin A and in its natural, safest form, a very sought after vitamin for skincare. Beta carotene, present in fresh, green forages, is what gives beef tallow its characteristic yellow hue.
The USDA recorded Vitamin A at 0, and the WAPF Covance sample registered at <100 IU. While our sample's 159 IU for an entire 100 mg jar of pure beef tallow may seem minimal, we believe preserving these vitamins is crucial.
The RDA for Vitamin A for an adult is approximately 3000 IU. A topical application from a retinoid-based cream might be in the range of 800 to 1000 IU.
Grass-fed beef tallow, according to our results, is not a significant source of Vitamin E, with the USDA stating alpha-tocopherol levels at 2.7mg. The RDA for Vitamin E is 22 IU, while a topical dose can range from 15 mg to the thousands, depending on the product.
(Results pending - keep posted!)
Contrary to popular claims, our results indicate that even the highest quality tallow, which we consider therapeutic grade, is not as vitamin-rich as commonly believed. The true value of tallow appears to lie in its fatty acid profile, a topic we will explore in future posts. While the vitamin content is minute, we advocate for its preservation as these vitamins contribute synergistically to tallow's quality, natural color, and scent.
The next time you encounter claims of vitamin abundance in tallow, rest assured that the reality may differ. Our intention is not to criticize but to provide more accurate information. As we continue this journey, we encourage you to use and share our data, and we welcome your thoughts on this topic. Join us in building a community of knowledge-sharing, as there is much more to uncover. Who knows? This may be just the beginning, and perhaps larger-scale studies could be on the horizon.
Feel free to utilize and share our data and we welcome your thoughts on this topic. Get in touch!
If you would like to follow our ongoing conversation about tallow nutrition and quality, follow us on Instagram or Facebook: Grassland Beauty and Buffalo Gal Grassfed Beauty. We have a new Facebook group called Tallow Research and Education and an Instagram page with the same name. We invite you to join us!