What Are the Benefits of Taking Cod Liver Oil?

Stephanie Stiavetti
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Cod liver oil caplets

As a nutritional supplement, the health benefits of cod liver oil have been receiving a lot of press. Used to treat everything from high cholesterol to digestive problems, it can even benefit pets, too.

What Is It?

You may be asking yourself, what is cod liver oil? This fishy substance is manufactured by pressing the steamed livers of codfish until they produce yellow oil. Currently sold by vitamin companies encapsulated in small, gold gel tabs, it can also be taken by the spoonful. In fact, this is probably how your grandparents used to take it when they were kids.

What Are the Health Benefits of Cod Liver Oil?

There are many health benefits to this fishy oil! High in vitamin A, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA, cod liver oil is great for your health. Perhaps one of the most basic benefits of cod liver oil is its high vitamin D content, making it perfect for treating the millions of people who are deficient in this nutrient. Vitamin D is so important to your health that researchers have recently linked its deficiency to chronic illnesses such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and chronic liver disease (Ulitsky, A., et al).

A Natural Anti-Inflammatory

Cod liver oil really shines when used to treat inflammatory conditions. Inflammation in the body is now recognized as a key factor in many common, but serious, health problems. It is believed that a specific fatty acid contained in the oil, called resolvins, counteracts the effects of inflammation by stopping the passage of inflammatory cells to the areas experiencing the problem.

To name just a few of the many conditions linked to inflammation:

  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Psoriasis
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Celiac disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cirrhosis
  • Osteopenia

Your Heart Loves Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is very effective in treating high cholesterol by lowering triglycerides and raising HDL levels. It contains DHA and EPA, two essential fatty acids known for their ability to regulate blood pressure and maintain a healthy balance between good and bad cholesterol in the blood. Cod liver oil's anti-inflammatory properties provide a double-whammy in the cardiovascular department and make it a good natural treatment for those already suffering from heart disease.

The Link Between Cod Liver Oil and Infant Health Problems

A healthy woman stretches

Cod liver oil is proven good for your unborn baby, too! Studies have shown that pregnant women who take fish oil supplements while pregnant can significantly lower their baby's chances of developing childhood allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema (Romieu, I., et al). To be safe, though, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any new vitamins or supplements while pregnant.

Other Health Benefits

Cod liver oil treats:

  • Diabetes
  • Digestive problems
  • Vision problems
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Allergies
  • Excess Weight gain

How Much?

The first step in feeling the benefits of cod liver oil is to figure out how much you should take. Supplement manufacturers must print a recommended dosage on the bottles they sell, but if you are interested in treating a specific problem, you should consider talking to a doctor, dietician, or natural health care provider to see what dosage is right for you.

Cod Liver Oil Is Beneficial for Pets

Veterinarians often recommend giving cats and dogs a cod liver oil supplement mixed with their food to improve coat quality, treat dandruff, and ease the aching joints of older pets. The fishy taste tends to appeal to meat-eating animals, so a small dose once a day doubles as a great dinnertime treat. In colder climates, cod liver oil is fed to sled dogs to help them stay off the cold during long distance runs. High in protein and healthy fats, it also helps these hard working pups to keep up their energy levels.

How Should You Store Cod Liver Oil?

An unopened bottle of cod liver oil is stable in a cool, dry area, but once opened, it must be refrigerated. Most companies print an expiration date on their bottles, and it is a good idea to discard pills not used by the date recommended by the manufacturer.

The Final Word

Cod liver oil can help you fight a staggering number of health issues, without the side effects of prescription medications. If you're interested in taking this super-supplement, check out this listing of retailers.

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What Are the Benefits of Taking Cod Liver Oil?