Cod Liver Oil Benefits. Do You Get Your Omega 3 From Cod Liver Oil? Are There Risks?
Cod Liver Oil. Are there benefits to cod liver oil that outweigh the benefits of fish oil?
You may have heard about Cod Liver Oil from your grandmother. For a long time there has been an accepted wisdom that cod taking liver oil supplements has been good for you.
Is this the case? Are there cod liver oil benefits or is it a myth? Has modern science confirmed that there are indeed cod liver oil benefits? And are there risks to taking cod liver oil? Or should you take Omega 3 supplements?
Yes it has, your grandmother was right, even though science may not have known then that there were good reasons for taking cod liver oil supplements.
The majority of the benefits of cod liver oil relate to the Omega 3 content, because of course cod liver oil has Omega 3 fats in it. And as you would know if you have read some of our other information there is a wide range of benefits from adding some more Omega 3 to your diet.
Cod liver oil also has beneficial vitamins as well, such as vitamins A and D. Vitamin D is an important vitamin in the body because it helps us process calcium so is useful for strong bones and is therefore helpful in preventing osteoporosis.
However there is now some question over how much Vitamin A should be taken. And as there is quite a lot of vitamin A in cod liver oil there are risks of over consumption of vitamin A. For example in the US pregnant women are now advised to avoid vitamin A and this includes cod liver oil. Cod liver oil is not recommended in the UK.
Thus there are some risks as well as benefits of cod liver oil. Whilst it is a good source of Omega 3 fats it isn’t ideal as it is high in Vitamin A.
And there is another risk to taking cod liver oil supplements. It is, as the name suggests, sourced from the livers of cod fish taken from the North Sea. Unfortunately there are issues associated with contamination of fish with various contaminants, including heavy metals, PCBs and mercury. Although levels are not high they are sufficient to be worrying. And the liver accumulates more of these toxins.
Whilst these contaminants weren’t a problem in your grandmothers time, they are now.
A better way to source your Omega3 fatty acids, the major advantage of taking cod liver oil, is to take Omega 3 supplements that are clean and free from the risk of excess vitamin A. Vitamin A comes from the liver of the fish but not the flesh, so it isn’t a problem in Omega 3 supplements taken from the flesh of fish.
If you do need vitamin A or D supplementation it is quite possible to achieve this through a good vitamin supplement delivering regulated and lower levels.
And the very best Omega 3 supplements are also much cleaner than cod liver oil may be, with levels of contaminants being basically undetectable.
So yes, there are benefits to taking cod liver oil, but there may also be risks. You can get the benefits of taking cod liver oil supplements by taking Omega 3 supplements, without the risks.
Your grandmother was right, in her day taking cod liver oil was a good idea. Nowadays there’s still benefits to the Omega 3 fats, there’s just better ways to get them.
And there’s another issue at stake here as well. Cod liver oil obviously comes from cod. That’s the only place you can get it, so to manufacture cod liver oil supplements the industry must have cod to use to extract the oil from the liver of the fish.
Cod, however, are not in great abundance any more. Cod are a favorite food of many Europeans, and they have been caught in huge numbers in the North Sea as well as the Atlantic. It is now estimated that the numbers of cod in the North Sea are around 10% of what they were. Catches were around 250000 tons a year but are now limited to just over 5% of that, and the cod are getting much harder to find.
Even with restrictive catch limits the fishermen can’t catch enough to fill their quota.
In the year 2000 WWF put cod on the endangered list.
So taking cod liver oil isn’t necessarily a great idea for a wide range of reasons.
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Filed under: Fish Oil Benefits