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- Cod Liver Oil Enjoys a Resurgence in Popularity
- Myth #1: All Cod Liver Oil is Basically the Same
- Myth #2: Cod Liver Oil Contains Dangerous Amounts of Vitamin A
- Myth #3: Cod Liver Oil Contains Toxins Such as Mercury, PCBs and Dioxins
- Myth #4: Plain Fish Oil is Better Than Cod Liver Oil
- Myth #5: Cod Liver Oil is a Good Source of Vitamin D
- More Information about Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is perhaps the world’s most misunderstood superfood. First recorded by Hippocrates for medicinal use in Ancient Greece around 400 BC, cod liver oil has enjoyed a storied history since.
Ancestral cultures as diverse as the Eskimos and the South Seas Islanders both revered the use of fish liver oils for their health-giving properties, especially with regard to fertility and producing sturdy children.
British physician Dr. John Hughes Bennett noted in 1848 that cod liver oil had been utilized since the beginning of recorded history by the fishing communities of Scotland, Sweden, and Norway for its strengthening properties as well as for medicine.
Doctors prescribed cod liver oil to treat rickets, a vitamin D deficiency disease, starting about 1800, perhaps even earlier. A couple of decades later in 1820, the practice of using cod liver oil to prevent and treat rickets was widespread in the countries of Germany, Holland and the Netherlands.
The anti-infective nature of cod liver oil due to the natural vitamin A content made it an indispensable remedy for all manner of illnesses prior to the advent of antibiotics including tuberculosis, measles, and diseases of the eyes.
According to the book Ultraviolet Light and Vitamin D in Nutrition, the United States imported about 1.8 million gallons of cod oil and cod liver oil in 1922. Cod oil is used for tanning while cod liver oil is taken as a supplement but the two were not separated in the data kept by the US Department of Commerce at the time. Five short years later in 1927, the amount nearly tripled to 5 million gallons with most of the increase in edible cod liver oil due to research showing its benefits in preventing rickets.
A little over 70 years later, America imported less than a half a million gallons in the year 2000, a steep and shocking decline in use no doubt due to the rapid transition and reliance of the medical profession since the middle of the last century on synthetic vitamins, antibiotics and other pharmaceutical drugs to prevent and treat disease symptoms.
Cod Liver Oil Enjoys a Resurgence in Popularity
Since the turn of the millenium, cod liver oil has been enjoying a significant resurgence in popularity as interest in natural remedies and whole food supplements for maintaining health and wellness grows. The worrisome problem of antibiotic resistance and the growing body of evidence that antibiotics can do significant harm and perhaps even irreparable damage to the gut has motivated forward thinking individuals to look to the past for effective and safe alternatives.
Unfortunately, this interest has not been without controversy as confusion regarding this ancient superfood abounds.
The predominant myths about cod liver oil are discussed in the commentary below:
Myth #1: All Cod Liver Oil is Basically the Same
The truth is that almost all cod liver oil on the market today is heavily industrialized with processing taking place in Iceland or Norway. This destructive manufacturing process which includes alkali refining, bleaching, and deodorization (oil kept at 482 F/ 250 C for up to 6 hours) destroys the natural vitamins A and D and damages fragile omega-3 fatty acids. Synthetic vitamins are typically added back in to meet desired labeling requirements.
Cod liver oil as used traditionally was not widely manufactured using this violent, denaturing process and certainly no synthetic vitamins were ever added in. As a result, if one desires the ancient benefits of cod liver oil, it is important to seek a manufacturer who produces this supplement using old fashioned processing techniques which render and purify the oil at low temperatures to preserve nutrients (sources).
Myth #2: Cod Liver Oil Contains Dangerous Amounts of Vitamin A
It is very important that intake of vitamin A be balanced with its synergistic companion vitamin D. Unfortunately, some cod liver oils on the market contain very little vitamin D and even when included in larger amounts, the vitamin D is commonly synthetic in origin. Prolonged intake of cod liver oil that contains vitamin A with little vitamin D could lead to symptoms of osteoporosis and other health challenges if the diet is also lacking in vitamin D according to research performed in Europe.
If cod liver oil is consumed that has been manufactured in a traditional manner with the natural vitamins A and D preserved in their correct ratios, however, these problems are avoided and the benefits of this ancient supplement optimally enjoyed.
Myth #3: Cod Liver Oil Contains Toxins Such as Mercury, PCBs and Dioxins
All modern cod liver oil processing techniques such as molecular distillation remove heavy metals and other toxins. Cod liver oil manufactured using traditional, low heat rendering methods is purified using a proprietary filtering method with every batch tested for purity (sources).
Myth #4: Plain Fish Oil is Better Than Cod Liver Oil
The truth is that most fish oil on the market comes from farmed fish that are treated with antibiotics. It is a little know fact that farmed salmon are fed more antibiotics per pound than any other livestock in North America!
In addition, noncarnivorous species of fish such as salmon, which are omnivores, eat almost anything, and are a popular source for commercial fish oil, are commonly fed an unnatural diet which includes GMO soy and corn.
The final nail in the coffin for the myth that plain fish oil is somehow better than cod liver oil is that the vast majority of fish oils on the market contain little to no vitamins A and D and the caustic chemical and high temperature processing damages the delicate omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA).
Myth #5: Cod Liver Oil is a Good Source of Vitamin D
Most cod liver oil on the market is purified using the process of molecular distillation which removes most of the natural vitamin D. Some manufacturers add it back in, but it is usually synthetic and in smaller amounts than would naturally occur in the oil.
Therefore, if a primary reason for taking cod liver oil is for the natural vitamin D, it is imperative to seek out a brand that preserves the natural vitamin D by employing old fashioned processing methods and does not add any synthetic vitamin D.
If cod liver oil is a whole food supplement you would like to start taking in your home, click here for a quality source employing optimal processing and purification techniques so you can enjoy all the benefits and none of the downside of this ancient superfood.
More Information about Cod Liver Oil
Doctor’s Orders: Your Family Needs Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil 101 (plus Video How-to)
How to Best Swallow Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil Reduce Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Cod Liver Oil the Number One Superfood
Cod Liver Oil: Setting the Record Straight
The Yin and Yang of Cod Liver Oil
Should Babies Take Cod Liver Oil?
Thank you so much for all of your assistance and insight. Could you please comment on the brand Nordic Naturals as I have a significant amount left.
Sarah Pope MGA
Nordic Naturals unfortunately is highly processed and does not have the correct ratio of Vitamins A/D due to manipulation of the amounts by the manufacturer.
Why aren’t you recommending fermented cod liver oil any more?
I’ve answered this a number of times on various articles on this blog … because I was no longer confident in a Pacific ocean sourced cod liver oil and preferred one that was sourced from the Atlantic. This is why our family now uses Dropi and has for quite some time.
which brand u took and how much per day?
This is indicated in the article above with links so you can see a picture of the bottle 🙂
I did not know how to use cod liver oil but after I read your article perked up and bought my first oil, thank you for this article
orthomol good sources of vitamin d
Orthomol vitamine b In my opinion it is very interesting theme, Give with you we will communicate in PM
just seems crazy that only this one company has figured out how to process cod liver oil appropriately. I just dont buy that
great info as usual from Sarah. I just ordered some cod liver oil:)
Sarah, if you tell us you are going to link us to a list of good cod liver oils, as in this sentence above: “click here for a list of quality sources employing optimal processing and purification techniques so you can enjoy all the benefits and none of the downside of this ancient superfood.:…..then it would be so helpful to actually be linked to a list of cod liver oils. It linked to a list of many different foods/supplements that you recommend folks take, cod liver oil being one of them….then I link from there, and simply get taken to the Radiant Health website, where there is really only one or two sold there. Information presented easily is paramount to blogs and articles being helpful. Too many steps, and then ending without a list at all, is unhelpful. And your blog is usually helpful, so I wanted to give you this feedback!! I would still like a ‘list’ of good cod liver oils, not just a couple that particular website sells (which I notice is the website that you link folks to for alot of products—this begins to feel like kickback territory….)
Thanks for listening….
Also…I noticed your recommendation for deodorants….what do you think of what I use: Milk of Magnesia…the cheapest , most effective deodorant I have ever found. Is there any health concern, using this, do you think? I love it….
I read an article in Acres magazine about bile salts, but never could find any advice on them and the bitters. I’ll check back and see if you got the link posted. Sorry you’re having trouble with your computer, mine drives me crazy sometimes.
After reading your and several other articles I took the leap and bought my first bottle of fermented cod liver oil with butter oil. Excited for it to arrive and see if it helps. I will say the reviews are mixed; but Sarah seems to be very well informed.