Cod liver oil is an extract taken from the codfish liver and utilized as a nutritional supplement. It is extremely rich in Omega-3-fatty acids and contains a good quantity of Vitamin A and Vitamin D as well. The extract had been considered to be most beneficial for growing children earlier. It was believed to protect the children from rickets and Vitamin D deficiencies.
The purest form of this oil has an unpleasant and strong flavor with the aroma varying from being akin to the mild sardine to a more strong fishy odor. The oil is a pale yellowish liquid with a bland taste and fishy odor in its purest form. Commercially available brands often contain additional flavorings which are added to make the oil more palatable. There is a rancid fish like after-taste associated with both the oil as well as its capsule form.
The traditional manufacturing process of the cod liver oil involved fermenting the fish livers in a barrel full of sea water for up to a year. The modern method consists of cooking the entire fish tissues to form a fish meal and then obtaining the oil from it.
Research studies indicate that the oil is also beneficial for improving cardiac health and blood circulation.
History Of Cod Liver Oil
The oil had been used in the early 1800s by the fishermen of England, Ireland, Newfoundland and Scotland for a number of uses which included applying it on painful and inflamed joints. The thick oil took a long time to be absorbed by the skin and resulted in delayed effects. This initiated the practice of consuming it directly in order to relieve muscular pains and rheumatism. The oil was regarded as a beneficial supplement that protected the fishermen against common cold.
The nutrient content of the oil was discovered only in 1920. It was used extensively to cure rickets and act as a protective agent against softening of bones in underprivileged children of USA in the early part of the 20th century.
How To Maximize Cod Liver Oil Benefits
- The most effective dosage for cod liver oil has not been established beyond doubt. The clinical studies usually make use of 20 milliliters to 30 milliliters of oil on a daily basis.
- The supplement is available as capsules, chewable flavored tablets and as an oil. Some of the supplements are also fortified with Vitamin B and C apart from other essential minerals in order to provide a complete dietary supplement.
- Intake of the supplement along with meals help to mask the unpleasant taste and reduce side-effects like belching.
- Medical practitioners recommend increasing the dose over a period of time for best results.
Cod Liver Oil Benefits
- The oil is believed to improve heart health and blood circulation.
- It can be used to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis, osteoporosis and rheumatism.
- It is believed to strengthen the bones due to its high Vitamin D content.
- The oil is used to control diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, hypertension and onset collectively known as ‘Syndrome X’.
- The supplement is also utilized as a complement in the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
- Pregnant women benefit greatly by consuming cod liver oil regularly as it helps to increase the fatty acid content of breast milk which can reduce infections and enhance brain development of the fetus.
- Newborn babies have a much-reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes when the mother consumes the oil regularly during pregnancy.
- Female cancer patients have a reduced mortality rate on regular intake of the nutritional supplement.
- It is believed to cure earaches in children.
Cod Liver Oil: Side Effects
- The high content of Vitamin A in the supplement can result in hypervitaminosis A which can result in birth defects. Pregnant women are advised to take medical advice before incorporating the oil as a part of their daily diet.
- Impure forms of the fish oil are found to contain various contaminants which can result in toxicity.
- Constipation, nausea and vomiting are the common side-effects that occur when additional Vitamin D is stored in the fatty tissues and liver. This condition occurs due to overdosing of cod liver oil.
- Consuming the oil along with Liver oils and anticoagulant drugs is contraindicated. Blood thinners and Vitamin A and D supplements are also not recommended to be consumed together.
Dale Alexander known as "Codfather,” discovered a method of combining cod liver oil with milk in order to mask its unpleasant taste and odor.
“Cod-liver oil and chemistry” by Frantz Peckel Møller and Peter Møller Heyerdahl