Long before the days of omega-3 and the fish oil boom, early 20th century researchers were patting each other on the back for simply making the connection between cod liver oil and vitamins A & D. At a time when scientific research was no where near as advanced as it is today, this was a magnificent find. Not only did it unveil a key source of growth and vision-supporting nutrients, it also offered great promise for the treatment and prevention of rickets-a far more concerning epidemic that affected malnourished children.
The 1970’s changed everything. Researchers studying the Inuit Eskimos made the connection between fish, essential fatty acids, and cardiovascular health. Today, cod liver oil has cemented its place among the world’s most trusted supplements. Its unique combination of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D continues to fascinate researchers, as reflected in a seemingly endless list of potential health benefits. Let’s examine some of the most impressive findings.
Like all cold water, deep sea fish, cod is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to naturally occurring vitamins (A & D), cod liver oil is rich in EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) DHA and (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Extensive research has showcased the positive role that these two beneficial fatty acids play in supporting healthy cardiovascular activity. There is also new evidence suggesting that vitamin D3 may offer even greater cardiovascular support.
In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a qualified health claim for omega-3 fatty acids. The claim states that, although the research is not conclusive, evidence suggests that consuming 3 grams of essential fatty acids (EPA and DHA) daily, may lower the risk of heart disease risk.
A number of clinical studies have been conducted to determine what benefit EFA may offer against some of today’s most common neurological conditions. In one, participants who suffered from frequent depression were evaluated over a two year period. At the conclusion of the study, the cod liver oil users reported a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms than non-users. It was also noted that those who took cod liver oil longer reported a greater reduction in depressive symptoms.
Bipolar disease is a behavioral disorder that affects roughly 5.7 million U.S. adults. A landmark 1999 Harvard study determined that daily supplementation of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA could be helpful in extending remission periods. Cod liver oil is an excellent source of both EPA and DHA.
In light of its famed role in preventing rickets in children, many experts believe that cod liver oil may also have an effect on the health of newborns. One study found that expecting mothers who supplemented with cod liver oil during their pregnancy were 11 times more likely to deliver a heavier baby. Another study determined that babies who consumed cod liver oil during their first year of life were less likely to develop type I diabetes. Researchers believe that this is possible based on cod liver oil’s anti-inflammatory effect on the body
It’s worth noting that either of the preceding two studies made mention of specific amounts. Rather, the presence of vitamin D, essential fatty acids, or both could have a substantial impact on early health and development.
The daily use of NSAIDs is routine for scores of US adults, including many who suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). While they may provide temporary relief of pain related symptoms, frequents use of NSAIDs has been linked to a number of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular-related challenges. A recent study examined the role of cod liver oil among individuals with RA. At the conclusion of the 9 month study, 39% of the cod liver oil group was able to reduce the amount and/or frequency at which they used NSAIDs. Researchers attribute this success to the oils notable anti-inflammatory properties.