Cod liver oil is rich in nutrients and is derived from a cod fish's liver. Cod liver oil is also available in capsule form as well as oil form. It has been taken throughout history because of its vitamin D and vitamin A content. Traditionally, it was manufactured by taking wooden barrels and filling them with fresh sea water and cod liver, then leaving the mixture to stay for a year (ferment) before extracting the oil. The modern version is made by cooking all the tissues of a fatty cod fish during manufacture of fish meal.
There are many benefits as well potential risks of taking cod liver oil.
Benefits of Cod Liver Oil
So, what nutritional benefits does cod liver oil have?
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- DocosaHexaenoic acid (DHA)
- EicosaPentaenoic Acid (EPA)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The nutritional ingredients found in cod liver oil enable you to achieve different health benefits. Some health benefits of cod liver oil include:
1. Relieve Arthritis
Taking cod liver oil daily is a great way to prevent arthritis. For those with arthritis, it will provide relief from pain. The recommended cod liver oil dosage for arthritis is a teaspoon or two each day. For those using it in capsule form, follow the directions provided on the capsule bottle.
2. Relieve Muscle Pain
Muscle and bone pain are the two major symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. People who have this vitamin deficiency experience significant leg pain and find it hard to climb stairs. Studies have also shown that a teaspoon or two of cod liver oil increases levels of Vitamin D in the body. This helps reduce muscle pain and improves the strength of the muscles as well.
3. Prevent Heart Diseases
A daily dose of a teaspoon or two of cod liver oil improves the functionality of the heart, even after a heart surgery or a heart attack. This, in turn, helps prevent diseases affecting the heart. Nutritional contents in cod liver oil make this benefit possible? Omega-3 fatty acids line the arteries after damage hence improving healing. Mineral absorption is also facilitated by Vitamins D and A thereby supporting blood vessel elasticity and improving functionality of the muscles.
4. Lower High Cholesterol
Cod liver oil contains fatty acids, which help lower bad cholesterol in the body. The best remedy is consuming one to two teaspoons each day.
5. Fight Type 1 Diabetes in Children
Findings from a study conducted showed that expectant women who took a cod liver oil teaspoon each day were at lesser risk of having children with type 1 diabetes. Pregnant women are, however, advised to consult their doctors prior to taking cod liver oil on a regular basis.
6. Maintain Brain Health and Mental Health
The human brain has high omega-3 concentration, and since cod liver oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids, supplementing with this fish oil gives your brain and mental health a boost. It has possible benefit for conditions like ADHD and depression and it also notes possible effectiveness for psychosis and bipolar disorder.
7. Other Cod Liver Oil Benefits Include:
- Prevention of infection of your inner ear
- Reduction in triglycerides levels in your bloodstream
- Treating/preventing psoriasis
- Prevention of birth defects brought about by vitamin A & D deficiency
- A good alternative treatment for the Crohn's disease
- Reduces high BP
- Reduces lupus contraction risk
- Relieves headaches/migraines
- Fights inflammation
- Helps in immune system regulation
- Helps in bronchial asthma soothing
- Combating kidney disease (early)
Research conducted has found that cod liver oil is effective, to some extent, in treating cyst fibrosis, mental disorders, allergies, macular degeneration, allergies and even sickle cell anemia. If you have also been diagnosed and rely on NSAIDs for pain and inflammation, cod liver oil is a good reliever. A study done in Norway showed that women suffering from cancer and who also took cod liver oil had reduced mortality significantly compared to those who did not take this oil (45% for those with lung cancer, 25% for women with all sorts of cancer).
Potential Risks of Cod Liver Oil
Just because this oil has been generally recognized as being safe (GRAS), it does not mean that anyone can take it at any given time. As it is with all supplements, you first need to consult your doctor or personal physician before embarking on alternative treatments or new dietary remedies.
This is because there is toxicity potential when taken in high doses over some time. The side effects of the toxicity include:
- Mental confusion
- Bone loss
- Hair loss
- Liver damage
- Bad breadth
- Loose stool
First off, lactating or pregnant women should consult their doctors before consuming any supplements regardless of how safe the supplements are.
Additionally, if you are under the care of a doctor for a heart disease or under prescription medication like anticoagulants, you should consult your doctors prior to taking supplements.
It should be noted that cod liver oil prevents clotting of blood, and it also has the ability to lower your blood pressure. Therefore, it should be contraindicated when routinely taking these medications. While this oil can be considered safe to take, it should be taken in the doses recommended.