The cod liver oil it has been present in our diet for many years. It has always been considered as a supplement that brought many benefits, especially to children. Therefore, it was common for families to “force” children to take several tablespoons from time to time, following the recommendations of their doctors.
Today, with the advancement of medicine and analytical methods, we know much more than cod liver oil can bring us.
Therefore, in this article we want to review what the scientific community has concluded about this supplement, both for positive and negative facts.
Cod is mostly fished in the Atlantic Ocean, and has been a highly valued fish in different civilizations. The liver, from which the oil is extracted, has been used for hundreds of years to reduce joint inflammation and to improve bone density, especially in young and growing-age children.
As also happens with most fish, the nutritional contribution is high, since it provides many proteins and is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
Undoubtedly, this fatty oil is related to many health benefits, among them, its anti-inflammatory capacity and its blood pressure-lowering effect. [See study]
As for the vitamin intake, cod liver oil provides us with an important concentration of vitamin A and vitamin D, with the consequent health benefits.
At the nutritional level, there is no resemblance to traditional fish oil, which is obtained from different parts of fish such as anchovy, mackerel, herring or tuna.
Instead, cod liver oil, as its name mentions, is only processed from this organ, so nutritionally it is much more concentrated.
To be able to quantify it, this is what gives us a tablespoon of coffee (about 5 ml in volume) of this food supplement:
- Energy: 40 kcal
- Total fats: 4.5 g
- Omega 3 fatty acids: 890 mg
- Monounsaturated fat:1 g
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1 g
- Vitamin A: 90% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance)
- Vitamin D: 113% of the CoR
Not only is the high concentration in vitamin A and D, but the ease of assimilation that cod liver oil has, being one of the most recommended sources of this vitamin group.
As you know, the vitamin d it is essential to ensure proper bone health, as it greatly facilitates the absorption of calcium. Therefore, mothers and fathers provided it to their growing children.
May reduce inflammatory processes
A fact that was known for many years but that today has been able to be contrasted is the effect of cod liver oil on inflamed tissues.
Especially interesting is this food supplement when suffering from chronic inflammation, as it is linked to other serious effects such as heart disease or hypertension.
The anti-inflammatory activity of this food is linked to its high contribution (890 mg per 5ml of oil) of Omega 3, which is related to the reduction of inflammation by eliminating the proteins that activate this process (TNF-α, IL-1 and IL-6)
Inflammation processes can also be reduced with the increase of antioxidant substances, including vitamin groups A and D.This type of substances favor the elimination, by conjugation, of free radicals present in the bloodstream.
In fact, there is a scientifically proven relationship between people who eat a diet low in vitamins and tissue inflammation.
May reduce joint pain and improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
The rheumatoid arthritis it is a chronic disease that produces great pain at the level of joints.
One of the biggest drawbacks is that, currently, there is no cure for it, and it is treated with painkillers or reducing the physical activity that causes the damage.
Recent scientific studies have linked the consumption of cod liver oil ton the reduction of joint pain, as it provides an improvement in symptoms related to the disease.
Among them, reduction of stiffness in the joints and processes linked to tissue inflammation. [Effect of cod liver oil on arthritis]
Cod liver oil supplement, whether in capsule or liquid form, can replace many anti-inflammatories consumed daily by chronic patients by up to 30%.
Protects the digestive system
One of the biggest problems at the digestive level is the formation of ulcers, when digestive seems are not able to withstand the heartburn produced by gastric juices.
Ulcers can appear from infection, poor eating habits, alcohol abuse, smoking, or from aggressive medications.
Several studies conducted initially on animals have found benefits of cod liver oil in the treatment of intestinal and stomach ulcers.
Therefore, we speak of cure but not of prevention. [Antiulcer activity of cod liver oil]
As we have mentioned, most of these studies have only been carried out in animals, so there is still a step to see the effects in humans.
May support eye health
Historically, vitamin A has been linked to correct vision, recommending foods such as carrots. In this case, we have a large list of foods with vitamin A including cod liver oil.
As we have mentioned before, only the intake of 5 ml (less than a tablespoon of coffee), contained 90% of the daily needs.
Vision loss is a problem that increasingly affects people throughout the world, with almost 300 million affected. On the other hand, there are other important problems of vision loss, related to glaucoma and macular degeneration, especially in elderly people.
Both processes are related to inflammation, which can be lessened by the benefits of the Omega 3 fatty acids in cod liver oil.
It has been scientifically proven how both compounds, vitamin A and Omega 3, are intimately related to proper vision health, having an impact on reducing eye pressure and optic nerve damage. [Nutrition and its impact on eye health]
In any case, we can never forget to take foods rich in vitamin A, since they are significantly related to correct vision and the reduction of glaucoma.
In a study of 3,502 people age 55 and older, researchers found that people who consumed the most vitamin A had a much lower risk of glaucoma than those who ate the least amount of vitamin A.
May reduce the risk of heart disease
Heart disease is the order of the day, and worst of all, it’s on the rise.
The main cause and origin is the lack of physical activity and the increasingly worse way of eating, using processed products, high in fat and diets low in vegetables and fiber.
The consumption of fish, replacing fatty meats, has been shown as a positive alternative to the risk of heart disease.
In turn, the impact of Omega 3 fatty acids is very positive for the body, with the following advantages:
- Reduction of hypertension: the effect of this substance is related to the reduction of blood pressure, causing a great impact on patients who suffer from this problem and have it associated with high cholesterol or triglycerides.
- Decreased triglycerides: Omega 3 are linked to the reduction of triglycerides in the medium term, to a range of between 15 and 30% lower.
- Increased good cholesterol (HDL): This type of cholesterol is linked to good cardiovascular health, and can be increased with this fatty acid.
However, at the level of improving cardiovascular health, there is still much to study. While Omega 3 fatty acids are known to produce these benefits, there is a lack of information to contrast these properties with cod liver oil.
Promotes proper bone health
Although we have previously anticipated the positive effect of cod liver oil on bones, we will contrast this statement.
Over the years, bone density is gradually lost, and this loss begins from the age of 30. With this, the sensitivity to withstand blows and cause fractures with falls.
Vitamin D inteIt comes directly into the fixation of calcium and magnesium at the bone level, since both minerals have great assimilation problems.
In fact, you can see how there are many dairy brands that incorporate vitamin D into the milk.
A correct diet with this vitamin, which we can cover with this cod liver supplement, increases bone density and its strength.
Read more: foods rich in vitamin D.
May improve symptoms of anxiety and depression
Believe it or not, the symptoms of depression or even anxiety are related to inflammatory processes. [Inflammatory activity and depression]
In turn, and returning to the benefits of Omega 3, there is a direct relationship between cod liver oil and the reduction of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Years ago a scientific study of great magnitude was carried out, carried out in more than 20,000 people, where cod liver oil was linked to a decrease in symptoms of depression. [Cod liver oil and symptoms of depression]
On the contrary, the effects are not very noticeable, although given the ease of introduction of this supplement into our diet, it may be worth it.
The mechanisms that link Omega 3 fatty acids to depression are still unknown, but it seems that they do have significant effects.
How much cod liver oil can I take?
One of the biggest advantages of this food supplement is its ease of taking.
Currently we can buy it in liquid form, packaged in glass jars, or directly in capsule form.
In any case, we can always resort to the traditional way of consuming pure liver in cod, previously cooked.
In the liquid form, the dose of 1 to 2 tablespoons of coffee (5 ml) a day is recommended. As that amount already covers the dose of vitamins, it is not recommended to increase the dose, since we can suffer vitamin A poisoning.
Its consumption has been linked to an anticoagulant activity, so it should be consulted beforehand with the medical specialist if you are already taking anticoagulant medications.
Likewise, if we are taking medications against blood pressure, it does not hurt to make a prior consultation before supplementing with this product.
Its consumption is not recommended in pregnant women or young children, given the high amount of vitamin A, unless previously recommended.