If you look around the natural health community you are likely to see cod liver oil being recommended left and right. But what’s the big deal about it? Cod liver oil is an excellent supplement because it’s derived from real food (cod livers to be exact) and has tons of things our bodies need to be at optimal health.
Vitamin D is such an important vitamin. It works more like a hormone and helps regulate the immune system and neuromuscular system. It’s also important in absorbing other minerals like calcium and magnesium. But we are often deficient in vitamin D because we don’t spend much time outside, especially where it’s cold. Those of us who live in northern climates or who have darker skin get even less vitamin D from the sun. Ideally we would produce our own vitamin D from the sun but if we can’t do that, a natural source of vitamin D is needed. Cod liver oil is a great source of vitamin D and also has a good balance of other vitamins and fatty acids that help the body to utilize vitamin D.
We all need omega 3 fatty acids to be optimally healthy. Instead, most of us get many more omega 6’s than omega 3’s which causes widespread inflammation and can contribute to many illnesses- from colds to chronic disease. Omega 6’s are necessary for good health too, so we don’t want to eliminate them, but we do need to balance them. Ideally we would get a ratio of 2:1 omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. The reason that so many of us do not have the right balance is that processed foods, which are mostly made with vegetable oils, as well as conventional poultry and, to a lesser extent, conventional beef, are very high in omega 6 fatty acids and very low in omega 3’s. Cod liver oil is a natural way to rebalance these fatty acids if you take it every day.
Vitamin A is an essential vitamin that we need in order to ward off illness and inflammation. The body turns vitamin A into retinol, which is a powerful antioxidant that targets free radicals in the body. Vitamin A is necessary for eye, skin and cellular health, gene transcription, immune function, reproductive health, embryonic development. Vitamin A is similar to Vitamin D in that it acts like a hormone and is best taken along with vitamin D for proper balancing.
Cod liver oil was used in the 1800’s to treat and prevent tuberculosis. Today, it may be useful in preventing all kinds of diseases. Cod liver oil acts as an anti-inflammatory which can help reduce the risk of chronic illnesses that we know to be tied to inflammation, such as metabolic diseases and arthritis. Cod liver oil may reduce the risk of cancer. Healthy Vitamin D levels have been connected to a lower risk for breast cancer. Another study found that women who did develop cancer were less likely to die when taking cod liver oil.
Cod liver oil also shows promise as a treatment or prevention for diabetes. It was shown to prevent childhood diabetes when used in the first year of life. Additionally, one study found that cod liver oil could be used as a diabetic medication for rats. Experts believe the anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids help reduce risks associated with diabetes.
Fertility and childbearing
For couple hoping to conceive, cod liver oil may be the answer. The omega 3 fatty acids in cod liver oil help regulate hormones, promote regular ovulation, and promote healthy cervical mucous.
Healthy fats are also highly important in the diet of the dad. Sperm are created with fatty acids and if there aren’t enough of them, the sperm doesn’t form properly.
As we mentioned before, Vitamin A is necessary for reproductive health and embryonic development. According to Weston A. Price, if there is a deficiency during the development of the heart, central nervous system, the circulatory, urogenital and respiratory systems, and the development of the skull, skeleton and limbs, then they may not form properly.
Further, women who are vitamin D deficient are at a higher risk for developing preeclampsia during pregnancy, which can cause a need for a c-section and put the baby’s life at risk.
There is a reason that many obgyn’s tell their patients to supplement with DHA and EPA at the end of their pregnancy. These forms of omega 3 fatty acids are essential for brain development and function. Brain cells have a high proportion of fatty acids to help send messages to other parts of the brain. Fatty acids help reconnect damaged neurons and inhibit cell death.
Vitamin D also helps ward off age-related cognitive decline, according to one study. Vitamin D receptors are everywhere in brain tissue and, according to one study, “vitamin D’s biologically active form [1,25(OH)(2)D3] has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease”. Low vitamin D is also linked to cognitive decline, so it makes sense to boost the stores of vitamin D with a naturally occurring source like cod liver oil when going outside isn’t possible.
There seems to be no end to the benefits of cod liver oil. From fertility to disease prevention, to boosting vitamin stores, cod liver oil does it all. Cod liver oil is a real-food based supplement that is safe for the whole family (including pregnant and breastfeeding women). Choose a high quality cod liver oil such as Green Pastures or Radiant Life. Cod liver oil is safe for most people when taken as directed and in moderation. Remember, there are no miracle cures, just real food (and real food supplements) for good health!