Cod Liver Oil: Brain Building Since the Early 20th Century
03/23/2012 | 11:54 AM
Cod Liver Oil: Introduction
Cod liver oil first gained prominence in the early 20th century for its ability to prevent rickets. At that time, it was fermented in wooden barrels filled with seawater and fresh cod livers and allowing the fish to ferment for up to a year before the oil has been removed.
Today, the process has been streamlined, and involves cooking the whole cod, and then alkali refining, bleaching, winterization and deodorization of the oil. As rickets is no longer a major disease, at least in the west, the oil is generally used for its other health benefits. Cod liver oil is high in vitamin A, D. One teaspoon of Arctic cod liver oil contains 1,500 IU of vitamin A, meeting 30 percent of your daily value. Vitamin A, also called retinal, necessary for eye and bone health, and normal growth and development. It also helps promote immune health by helping you produce the white blood cells you need to fight infection. Cod liver oil is also high in the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The omega-acid DHA is essential for the optimal functioning of the central nervous system, and is the primary structural component of the brain and retina.
Cod liver oil is sold as the oil, although some find that because of its pungent taste they prefer to take it in gelatin pills or tablet form. As a syrup, it is sometimes flavored with strawberry, lemon or cherry to make it more palatable, especially for kids.
Code Liver Oil: Different Uses
Cod liver oil is high in vitamin A, D. One teaspoon of Arctic cod liver oil contains 1,500 IU of vitamin A, meeting 30 percent of your daily value. Vitamin A, also called retinal, is necessary for eye and bone health, and normal growth and development. Vitamin A also helps promote immune health by helping you produce the white blood cells you need to fight infection. Cod liver oil is also high in the omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The omega-acid DHA is essential for the optimal functioning of the central nervous system, and is the primary structural component of the brain and retina. DHA deficiency is associated with mental decline. DHA was found to inhibit growth of human colon carcinoma cells, more than other omega-3 acids.
Code Liver Oil: Benefits
- Fetal Brain Development. DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) are considered “essential fatty acids” in that they cannot be synthesized by the body, and therefore must be obtained from the diet. DHA is important for development of the central nervous system in all mammals. In the last trimester of pregnancy, brain formation accelerates, and for this reason, pregnant women must make sure they are consuming sufficient DHA and EPA. Fortunately, cod liver oil has high levels of both. A 2003 study published in “Pediatrics” found that ingesting 2 tsp of cod liver oil per day from the 18th week of pregnancy until 3 months after birth raised the IQ levels of babies when they were tested at 4 months of age.
- Type 1 Diabetes: A June 2000 study in the journal Diabetologica (which publishes original clinical and experimental research within the field of diabetes) found that ingesting cod liver oil during pregnancy protected babies against Type 1 Diabetes. Studies on animals have also found that diabetics who take the oil are better able to control their glucose levels.
- Arthritis: Daily administration of two teaspoons of cod liver oil can lower the amount of analgesics required by the treatment of patients with arthritis. A 2008 Study published in the journal Rheumatology found that 39 % of arthritic patients who were given cod liver capsules were able to cut their use of NSAIDs pain killers – some by more than 30 %.
- Post-partum depression: Several studies have shown that the Omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, may lower the risk of pre-term birth and lower the risk of post-partum depression in new mothers.
- Lung and other cancers: A Norwegian study, published in 2007 Journal of Epidemiology, of more than 68,000 women reported that female cancer patients who took daily cod-liver oil supplements had significantly reduced mortality (25% for all cancers, 45% for lung cancer) compared to women who did not take such supplements.
- Lowers blood pressure: The EPA and DHA in cod liver oil can reduce your risk of hypertension and lower blood pressure, according to several studies.
Code Liver Oil: Possible Side Effects
- Nausea, diarrhea. Cod liver oil, is a natural laxative and can be used to loosen stools. If too much is ingested, diarrhea and nausea can occur.
- Anti-blood clotting. The Omega 3 fatty acids have a long list of benefits but they can also thin the blood too much, a problem if you are already taking blood thinners or prone to internal bleeding.
- Lowers blood pressure. If you are taking hypertension medication, talk to your doctor before taking a cod liver oil supplement. Cod liver oil could interact with your existing medication.
- Excess Vitamin A: The dosage of vitamin A in cod liver oil depends on the brand in question, but a figure of 1,500 IU or 30 % RDA is typical. Be careful of how much vitamin A you consume if pregnant: too much vitamin A can cause damage the liver or cause birth defects in your unborn child.
Code Liver Oil: Conclusion
Cod liver oil has a long history as being used as a health supplement, and has many uses. As more research is done on the oil, a growing number of medical benefits come to light. Cod liver oil has been shown to aid with arthritis, fetal brain development, Type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure, post partum depression, lung and other cancers. For persons who don’t like the taste, it can be consumed in tasteless capsule form or is flavored: more palatable for children.