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Cod Liver Oil: The Superfood

Posted by Ir. Adhi Hartono on 19 February 2010

Research studies ranging from 1918-2001 give cod liver oil an A+ rating. This marvelous golden oil contains large amounts of elongated omega-3 fatty acids, preformed vitamin A and the sunlight vitamin D, essential nutrients that are hard to obtain in sufficient amounts in the modern diet. Samples may also naturally contain small amounts of the important bone- and blood-maintainer vitamin K.
There is hardly a disease in the books that does not respond well to treatment that includes cod liver oil, and not just infectious diseases but also chronic modern diseases like heart disease and cancer. Cod liver oil provides vitamin D that helps build strong bones in children and helps prevent osteoporosis in adults. The fatty acids in cod liver oil are also very important for the development of the brain and nervous system. “If you want to prevent learning disabilities in your children,” said David Horrobin, distinguished medical and biochemical researcher, “feed them cod liver oil.”

Cod liver oil contains more vitamin A and more vitamin D per unit weight than any other common food. One hundred grams of regular cod liver oil provides 100,000 IU of vitamin A, almost three times more than beef liver, the next richest source; and 10,000 IU vitamin D, almost four times more than lard, the next richest source. Of course, cod liver oil is only consumed in small amounts, but even a tablespoon (about 15 grams) provides well over the recommended daily allowance for both nutrients.

In addition, cod liver oil contains 7 percent each of the elongated omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA is the precursor of important prostaglandins, localized tissue hormones that help the body deal with inflammation; and DHA is extremely important for the development and function of the brain and nervous system. So it’s no surprise that in numerous studies cod liver oil has proven to be a powerhouse in fighting disease.

Ability to Treating Many Health Disorders

Cod liver oil greatly improves heart function to prevent heart disease and to treat it even in advanced stages, after a heart attack and after heart surgery. Cod liver oil alters the linings of the arteries in such a way as to improve healing after damage. This is attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids but vitamin A, D and K all have important roles to play in facilitating mineral absorption, improving muscle function and supporting elasticity of the blood vessels. The inflammation-reducing prostaglandins made from EPA help mediate the inflammatory response in the arteries. In other studies the heart-protective effect was associated with changes in the muscle response to serotonin, increasing the heart’s ability to “relax.” In a study with rats, treatment with cod liver oil actually caused artery-blocking atheromas to become smaller and blood vessel diameter to enlarge.55 Weston Price noted that heart attack deaths increased during periods when the vitamin A content of the diet was low. Cod liver oil can provide vitamin A on a continuous basis throughout the year.

Many of the conditions addressed by cod liver oil are considered related under the title Syndrome X. These include obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, adult onset diabetes and stroke. Evidence is accumulating that these diseases of civilization are the result of high levels of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3 fatty acids along with deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins. We may be paying a very high price for our rejection of parental wisdom to take our cod liver oil.

In numerous studies, the elongated omega-3 fats found in cod liver oil have been shown to improve brain function, memory, stress response, immune response, allergies, asthma, learning and behavioral disorders, including bipolar syndrome and manic-depression.

Cod liver oil is most famous for contributing to bone health, preventing and reversing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.16, 17 Before the discovery of cod liver oil as a source of vitamin D, many children suffered greatly with deformed bones. Osteoporosis responds to vitamin D and to cod liver oil. Sufficient elongated omega-3 oils found in cod liver oil are one of the keys to keeping and rebuilding bone.18, 19 In women, higher levels of vitamin D from cod liver oil improve bone mineral density.20

Two of the symptoms of low levels of vitamin D are bone pain and muscle pain. This may manifest as pain in the legs, muscle weakness and difficulty climbing stairs. Numerous studies have shown improvement in muscle pain, muscle strength and bone pain scores with cod liver oil.40, 41

Cod liver oil is effective in treating arthritis as well. Researchers funded by Great Britain’s Arthritis Research Campaign found that the elongated omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil reduce both pain and damage in inflamed joints.56

Pregnant women using cod liver oil have infants with a lower risk for juvenile type 1 diabetes.21 This effect was found only in mothers taking cod liver oil, not in mothers taking multivitamin supplements. Cod liver oil taken by nursing mothers improves the fatty acid profile in breast milk to promote optimal brain development and also increases levels of vitamin A to prevent infections. Interestingly, cod liver oil does not provide increased vitamin D in breast milk.23,24

Cod liver oil given to infants after birth and during the first year had no protective effect against type 1 diabetes but it nevertheless is an important source of nutrients for optimal infant health.22 In more than forty trials, vitamin A has been shown to reduce morbidity and mortality of children.25 Cod liver oil was the supplement of choice in many of these trials. Books on feeding infants published in the 1930s and 1940s routinely recommended cod liver oil, starting with 1 teaspoon at the age of three weeks. It was Dr. Spock who threw this wisdom out the window by recommending vaccinations instead of the powerful nutritional support of cod liver oil. Few modern books on infant care mention the importance of the fat-soluble nutrients in this wonderful superfood.

As for treating diabetes in adults, cod liver oil has been used in a number of trials with both insulin-dependent and non-insulin-dependent diabetes. In both conditions cod liver oil improved glucose response and other markers of the disease.26-31 Vitamin A in cod liver oil helps promote healing and protects the retina, both problem areas in the diabetic patient.

Cod liver oil has lowered blood pressure induced by stress-elevated levels of cortisol.32-35 Cod liver oil given to rats reduced intraocular pressure suggesting a use in prevention and treatment of glaucoma.36 Vitamin D in cod liver oil promotes absorption of calcium and magnesium, thereby lowering blood pressure.

Colitis responds more effectively to the type of omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil than to medication.37-38 Cod liver oil should be the first protocol for this condition as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.

Topically applied, cod liver oil contributes to faster wound healing and improvement in skin quality.39 An excellent treatment for diaper rash and other skin conditions is cod liver oil mixed with zinc oxide. And cod liver oil taken orally helps maintain soft skin and minimize wrinkles.

And what about cancer? All the nutrients in cod liver oil help prevent cancer. Vitamin A has been part of every successful alternative cancer therapy so far. In a study in China, use of cod liver oil was found to be protective against childhood leukemia.57 In a study of Norwegian men and women, consumption of cod liver oil was found to protect against lung cancer.58

References:

16. Akpede GO, Omotara BA, Ambe JP. Rickets and deprivation: a Nigerian study. J R.Soc.Health 1999;119:216-22.

17. Wilton P. Cod liver oil, vitamin D and the fight against rickets. CMAJ. 1995;152:1516-7.

18. Requirand P, Gibert P, Tramini P, Cristol JP, Descomps B. Serum fatty acid imbalance in bone loss: example with periodontal disease. Clin Nutr 2000;19:271-6.

19. Watkins BA, Lippman HE, Le Bouteiller L, Li Y, Seifert MF. Bioactive fatty acids: role in bone biology and bone cell function. Prog.Lipid Res. 2001;40:125-48.

20. Sigurdsson G, Franzson L, Steingrimsdottir L, Sigvaldason H. The association between parathyroid hormone, vitamin D and bone mineral density in 70-year-old Icelandic women. Osteoporos.Int. 2000;11:1031-5.

21. Stene LC, Ulriksen J, Magnus P, Joner G. Use of cod liver oil during pregnancy associated with lower risk of Type I diabetes in the offspring. Diabetologia 2000;43:1093-8.

22. Seip M. [Infant nutrition in Norway in the light of recent research]. Tidsskr.Nor Laegeforen. 1991;111:2122-5.

23. Tsutsumi K, Obata Y, Takayama K, Loftsson T, Nagai T. Effect of cod liver oil extract on the buccal permeation of ergotamine tartrate. Drug Dev.Ind.Pharm. 1998;24:757-62.

24. Olafsdottir AS, Wagner KH, Thorsdottir I, Elmadfa I. Fat-Soluble Vitamins in the Maternal Diet, Influence of Cod liver oil Supplementation and Impact of the Maternal Diet on Human Milk Composition. Ann.Nutr Metab 2001;45:265-72.

25. Semba RD. Vitamin A as “anti-infective” therapy, 1920-1940. J Nutr 1999;129:783-91.

36. Mancino M, Ohia E, Kulkarni P. A comparative study between cod liver oil and liquid lard intake on intraocular pressure on rabbits. Prostaglandins Leukot.Essent.Fatty Acids 1992;45:239-43.

37. Vilaseca J, Salas A, Guarner F, Rodriguez R, Martinez M, Malagelada JR. Dietary fish oil reduces progression of chronic inflammatory lesions in a rat model of granulomatous colitis. Gut 1990;31:539-44.

38. Guarner F, Vilaseca J, Malagelada JR. Dietary manipulation in experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Agents Actions 1992;Spec No:C10-C14.

39. Terkelsen LH, Eskild-Jensen A, Kjeldsen H, Barker JH, Hjortdal VE. Topical application of cod liver oil ointment accelerates wound healing: an experimental study in wounds in the ears of hairless mice. Scand.J Plast.Reconstr.Surg.Hand Surg. 2000;34:15-20.

40. Eriksen W, Sandvik L, Bruusgaard D. Does dietary supplementation of cod liver oil mitigate musculoskeletal pain? Eur.J Clin Nutr 1996;50:689-93.

41. Lips P. Vitamin D deficiency in a multicultural setting. Ned.Tijdschr.Geneeskd. 2001;145:2060-2.

55.  Knapp HR and others. The Effect of Cod liver oil on the Development of Atherosclerosis in an Animal Model. Proceedings of the AOCS, Ed WEM Lands, AOCS 1987, pp 35-40.

56. http://www.animalrights.net/print/articles/2002/000068.html

57. Shu XO and others. A population-based case-control study of childhood leukemia in Shanghai. Cancer 1988 Aug 1;62(3):635-44.

58. Veierod MG, Laake P, Thelle DS. Dietary fat intake and risk of lung cancer: a prospective study of 51,452 Norwegian men and women. Eur J Cancer Prev 1997 Dec;6(6):540-9.

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5 Responses to “Cod Liver Oil: The Superfood”

  1. Chondroitin, a carbohydrate, is a cartilage component, which helps to attract fluid into the cartilage and helps to maintain joint health. Nutritional Supplement

  2. Adhi said

    Hello folk,

    Sorry I’m late to reply.
    Thanks for your visit and good sharing. I’ll look at your site later.

  3. Isa Test said

    Will this help to raise my metabolism as well?

  4. Well, a lot of people think that…

    if they have sensitive skin…they should use something organic…..well, that’s won’t neccessarily solve it….

  5. Hi there I like your post

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