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Cod Liver Oil Benefits

Updated on June 30, 2012

Vintage Cod Liver Oil Bottle

Many “baby boomers” may well remember the horrors of being spoon fed doses of foul tasting cod liver oil at the slightest hint of a cough or other ailment by their parents. It was a supposed cure all passed down through generations. The common belief of the times was if it tasted good, it wasn’t really medicine. And to some extent, remnants of that conviction remain a part of the American psyche.

Cod liver oil has been used for centuries around the world, not only for a number of illnesses, but various other things as well. Almost all cod liver oil found in the United States comes from Norway. Some species of cod have been found there that produce higher concentrations of vitamins A and D, making their oils more valuable.

Cod liver oil may provide a variety of health benefits, although some say there is insufficient evidence to support these claims.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk concerning mercury toxicity in cod liver oil supplements. These concerns can be laid to rest as all cod liver oils purchased in the United States are strictly tested. Besides, mercury is water soluble, meaning it may be present in the flesh but not the oil.

It has been used as a dietary supplement, relief for joint pain and as a topical agent for skin irritations. In centuries past cod liver oil was used for:

· A fuel for lamps

· Manufacturing textiles

· Softening leather

· Producing shiny, healthy coats in animals by adding it to their feed

· A protection against sunburn and relieving sore joints.

Recent research has shown it to be an effective treatment for a number of ailments ranging from arthritis to heart disease although in some cases nausea and loose stools have been reported. In the 1930s it was discovered cod liver oil could help prevent rickets, a disease that soften children’s bones due to a deficiency of vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus or calcium.

Its success has been linked to its high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D. Ongoing research has also revealed promising results for treating:

· Crohn's disease

· Rheumatoid arthritis

· High triglycerides

· High blood pressure

There are many other conditions, although to a lesser degree, where findings indicate it is of value in treating:

· Mental disorders

· Asthma

· Diabetes cystic fibrosis

· Cardiac disease

· High cholesterol

· Ulcerative colitis

· Sickle cell anemia

· Macular degeneration

· Osteoporosis

· Atherosclerosis, Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis

While many have praised its benefits, it should be noted there are some health risks associated with this panacea and it should be taken with caution when taken in large amounts.

Omega-3 acids are fats containing a lot of calories and can inhibit blood clotting. Those taking omega-3 supplements may need to alter their diets to avoid consuming too many fats. Additionally, anyone taking anticoagulant medication, has a bleeding disorder or uncontrolled high blood pressure, will be placed at a greater risk for stroke. And since fish oils act as an anticoagulant, anyone scheduled for surgery should eliminate them from their diet several weeks before and after.

Whether taken in liquid or capsule form, the large amounts of vitamins A and D it contains can also be dangerous. Although essential for good health, too little or too much can prove harmful. Too much vitamin A has been suspected of causing birth defects and interfering with bone growth, making them prone to fractures. Vitamin D is also dangerous in large amounts, and overdosing on the vitamin can be toxic.

Diabetics should also consult a physician before starting a cod liver oil regimen. Some studies indicate fish oil supplements make glucose levels harder to control.

Excessive use may also cause Vitamin A toxicity resulting in hair loss, liver damage and bone loss. Cod liver oil has not been approved by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a medication


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    • profile image

      smithjons 5 years ago

      That's good post.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Just made me want to gag.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I remember my father on a binge with this stuff when I was a kid. I took it for a while, too, and I think it could have made me gain a little weight.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Very informative article. Good to know that some of these old remedies actually work. Voted Up and Shared.