Most of us can recall our parents or grandparents taking cod liver oil and treating it like a miracle worker to prevent and cure all sorts of ailments. Could there be some truth to this? Is cod liver oil really all it's cracked up to be? Let's explore the facts.
Cod liver oil is naturally rich in vitamins A and D, as well as the essential fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA). Vitamin A is important for a healthy vision, healthy bones and teeth, red blood cell production, immune system support, and the regulating of genes. It also helps prevent free radical damage to the skin, is essential to the reproductive process in both males and females, prevents formation of urinary stones, and helps reduce or prevent oxidative stress, thus protecting us from chronic diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, cataracts, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Vitamin D is not really a vitamin but a hormone which can be made in the body with proper exposure to sunlight. This would entail direct sunlight exposure on bare skin for specific amounts of time on a regular basis, with no sunscreen on. For most of us, that is not possible. We lead busy lives and are not outside enough, especially not with bare skin and, even those few who are, usually are wearing sunscreen. Cod liver oil is the next best source, after sunlight to obtain this very important nutrient. Vitamin D is essential to the proper absorption of calcium, a mineral that is extremely important to our bone health, among other things. It is also an immune system regulator and has been shown to help decrease the risk and duration of the common cold and flu. Vitamin D may also help protect people from diseases such as Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and rheumatoid arthritis as well as helping to keep the brain functioning properly later in life. It is linked to maintaining a healthy body weight. Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with depression, heart attack, and even early death.
EPA has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression in some people with mild to moderate depression. It has also been found to reduce levels of triglycerides in the blood stream, reduce mild to moderate symptoms of psoriasis, and reduce pain and fatigue in lupus patients. DHA is very important for brain development, especially in fetuses, infants, and young children. It has also been found to have positive effects on diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, depression, blood clots, and even some cancers. Both EPA and DHA are know to help reduce inflammation in the body.Neither of these essential fatty acids are produced by the human body and therefore, must be obtained from food or supplements.
Is Fermented Really Better?
Most cod liver oil on the market today is extracted through methods that utilize extremely high heat and, therefore, strips out a lot of the nutrients in the oil. To make up for this, manufacturers add in synthetic versions of the vitamins. Synthetic vitamins are not easily absorbed by the body and an excess of synthetic Vitamin A has been shown to cause neurological damage. The natural fermentation process, only used by one company at the moment (Green Pasture Products), does not use heat and retains all of the original nutrients in the cod liver oil.
A few months ago, I spoke to Dave Wetzel at Green Pasture Products, the only company still using the fermentation process to extract oil from cod livers. Dave is very passionate about spreading knowledge of this super-food and generously sent me a bottle of my choosing, free of charge, to review for my readers. All opinions stated here are based solely on my experience with the product. I chose the Cinnamon Tingle flavor of regular liquid Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil. This is cod liver oil people, so I am not going to lie, I was afraid, very afraid. However, I found that it wasn't so bad. This is coming from someone who usually takes pill forms of stuff to avoid bad tastes. I actually don't mind taking it at all. In fact, I actually like taking it. My two year old loves and even asks for the stuff every day. My now almost 10 month old wasn't having solids yet when I had him try it and the cinnamon flavor was a little too strong for him and made him cough a lot. He now eats oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and other foods seasoned with cinnamon, so i'll have to try again once I order another bottle. I considered ordering the Oslo Orange flavor for him instead but it's no longer on their website. The funny thing is that, my husband, who eats seafood (I don't), hates pills and prefers to just drink all kinds of horrible tasting stuff, really hates the cod liver oil and detests the burps! This just all goes to show that different people have different tastes, so don't choose to take or not take the fermented cod liver oil based on other's opinions of the taste but based on the many health benefits it has to offer.
As far as health benefits, I believe it has worked for me and the kids as far as keeping us healthy. When we were taking it regularly, none of us got sick. In fact, there was one time I felt like I was starting to get sick so I took some and gave some to my 2 year old. My husband refused to take it and I figured my youngest would get some through my breast milk. In the end, the kids and I stayed healthy and my husband got sick. We have since run out and have started to catch colds and viruses again and I will be ordering more as soon as possible!
Where to buy:
The liquid fermented cod liver oil that I tried can be purchased from Green Pasture Products for $44 a bottle. They also offer a high vitamin butter oil/fermented cod liver oil blend for $49 a bottle, as well as emulsified fermented cod liver oil in kid approved flavors, and fermented cod liver oil capsules for those who just can't stomach the liquid. However, these options will cost a bit more than the liquid version. Green Pasture Products also carries skate liver oil, coconut ghee, extra virgin coconut oil, and skin care products. They offer a quantity discount on certain products.
And a giveaway:
Here is some great news! Green Pasture Products is giving my readers a chance to win a bottle of of fermented cod liver oil of their own to try out. Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. Contest begins today, February 20th, 2013, and ends next Wednesday, February 27th, 2013. Winner will be announced on this post and on the Diary of a Natural Mom Facebook page.
a Rafflecopter giveaway