Many of us grew up seeing depictions of young children being force fed teaspoons brimming with cod liver oil, the kids’ faces squinched up as they dreaded the taste. Just hearing the name – “cod liver oil” – often elicited classic yukky faces among kids. Which seems ironic, considering the many health benefits that have been attributed to cod liver oil over the years. Maybe it doesn’t taste great, but this stuff really works.
Make that centuries, in fact, that it has been treating and perhaps even healing. Cod liver oil’s nutritional value has been found to be nearly off-the charts good compared to other consumables, and even its purported medicinal versatility borders on remarkable. It is packed with nutrients and essential vitamins, such as A and D, as well as anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Adults as well as children can reap its many benefits with daily supplementation of cod liver oil, with which a little can go a long way.
Just one teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 90 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for Vitamin A and 113 percent for Vitamin D, with the former best known for helping us maintain healthy eyes, brain function and skin, while the latter – D – plays a vital role in regulating calcium absorption, a key component of our bone heath.
All this in one teaspoon at a cost of just 40 calories and 4.5 grams of fat – and that’s the kind of fat that can be good for our bodies. Truthfully. Granted, cod liver oil has less of omega-3 fatty acids then traditional fish oils, but contains more of vitamins A and D, per medicalnewstoday.com.
Cod Liver Oil’s History
Residents of northern Europe have long used cod liver oil to help bolster their immunity for the rigors of long, dark, cold winters, per draxe.com. One account, per well-beingsecrets.com, traces its use back hundreds of years to the age of Vikings in Norway. These rough and tough warriors used the oil as both food and medicine, finding it effective for reducing joint and muscle soreness, sometimes rubbing it all over their bodies to relax their muscles. They harvested the oil from codfish – no surprise there – and could store it and keep it fresh during those long, dark, cold winters.
Summary of Cod Liver Oil Health Benefits
Following, in alphabetical order, are 10 health-related areas in which cod liver oil may be beneficial:
- Arthritis. Scientists have known for about 100 years that cod liver oil is a natural “antirachitic,” per draxe.com, meaning it can help in the reduction of pain, joint stiffness and swelling in those afflicted with arthritis.
- Bone health. The oil’s vitamin D can help cut down age-related bone loss through its ability to help the body absorb calcium, a mineral needed for strong bones.
- Brain function. Researchers link the presence of vitamin D to cognitive performance and as a key in maintaining brain function among the elderly. The omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
- Diabetes. With its healthy fats, cod liver oil can assist in regulating insulin resistance, inflammation and blood glucose levels.
- Eye health. Two of the leading causes of vision loss are glaucoma and macular degeneration, both of which can be linked to chronic inflammation. Thanks to its provision of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A, cod liver oil can help protect against the inflammation related to those eye diseases.
- Fertility. Fats, like the omega-3 sort found in cod liver oil, can boost fertility and aid in the child’s growth and development. “Cod liver oil is linked with healthier ovarian and testicular function since it provides critical nutrients (omega-3s and vitamin D) that help keep the endocrine system running smoothly,” per draxe.com.
- Omega-3 have been shown to reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure, increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and prevent the buildup of plaque.
- Inflammation reduction. Inflammation is a good thing when it comes to fighting infections and healing injuries, but inflammation that hangs too long, as in chronic inflammation, becomes an uninvited guest, Cod liver oil is a strong antioxidant and can reduce inflammation by neutralizing free radicals.
- Ulcers. These are small breaks or tears in the stomach lining. Cod liver oil has helped heal ulcers in the stomach and gut.
- Wound repair. A study involving the topical application of a cod liver oil ointment found that it sped up the epithelial and vascular components of the healing of skin wounds compared to saline-based treatments, per medicalnewstoday.com.