Cod liver oil may not sound appealing, but it's widely accepted to be an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin D and omega-3. It's mostly taken in capsule form but is also available as flavoured oil too. You may need to try both forms before finding the most palatable for you; taking it with meals is also recommended. Fermented or naturally extracted cod liver oil contains a higher dose of antioxidants and increases the absorption of the oil's nutrients by the body.
How does cod liver oil keeps you healthy?
Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has several important functions in keeping your body healthy:
- It supports a healthy immune system to give your body the tools to fight illness and infection without resorting to medical intervention
- It is essential to your vision, where it maintains your ability to see in dim light
- It keeps your skin and internal surfaces, eg inside your nose, healthy.
It 's found naturally in oily fish, cheese, eggs, milk and yoghurt, fortified low fat spreads, and liver. As it is stored in the body it is recommended that you keep a check on how much you are consuming over time to prevent a build up.
Vitamin D helps your body maintain the necessary levels of calcium and phosphate, and keeps your teeth, bones and muscles healthy and strong.
In the summer months, when there is a lot of daylight, just getting out and about in the sunlight is usually enough for your body to get what it needs. But it can also be found in smaller amounts in foods such as:
- Egg yolks
- Red meat
- Oily fish
- Fortified foods e.g. breakfast cereals or fat spreads.
If your skin doesn't get that daily boost of vitamin D from sunlight, for whatever reason, it is recommended to take a supplement. It's available in many different forms; capsules, tablets, drops and sprays. Just find the right option for you.
Omega-3 is classed as an essential fatty acid, so called because your body can't make it itself and has to get it from external sources. There's no doubt that it is probably the most important ingredient in cod liver oil, with many health benefits for your wellbeing:
- It has been shown that omega-3 fatty acids may contribute towards keeping your heart healthy by increasing healthier HDL cholesterol and lowering blood pressure
- There is some proof that omega-3 contains an important brain nutrient which could boost your cognitive function, thus improving your memory, plus evidence also shows that it can also reduce anxiety levels
- Around 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from fatty liver disease, where there is a build-up of fat in the liver. It is thought to be caused by obesity, poor diet or type 2 diabetes, but omega-3 appears to have a beneficial effect by reducing fat levels
- Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis benefit from omega-3 products, which reduce pain in the affected joints and can, reduce the need for certain medications.
Cod liver oil can be hugely beneficial in many ways, but if you’re thinking of taking a new supplement, always consult your doctor to check it’s safe to do so.