Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cod Liver Oil for Life!

    There are many reasons to love cod liver oil.  It is possibly the single most important supplement available for overall health. It has all the Omega 3's of our beloved fish oil, plus a giant serving of vitamin D and vitamin A.  One thing that amazed me, it may have the highest anti-inflammation abilities of any food, one tablespoon is +1024 on Nutrition Data's scale (see for yourself).  To put that number in perspective a whole serving of salmon is  +919, celery is +14, and a cup of grapes is -56 (inflammatory).

The importance of a good cod liver oil can't be overstated.  With all the toxins that may be in fish, you can rest assured with any good brand of cod liver oil.  The best brands are all 3rd party purity checked to have no detectable level of contaminants.  This plus mercury is water soluble, therefore separates from the oil. It is like taking the guesswork out of eating fish. We get the best nutrients at concentrated levels with no contaminants.

Why do we need vitamin D?  Well, the body can synthesize vitamin D on its own, the best method is to strip down naked (at least to a thong), and stand under the sun for a couple hours everyday. Of course this could have a few negative side effects like skin cancer and crow's feet, not to mention the unwanted attention of standing around in a thong. Also there is that small problem we have up North: WINTER.  There is a lot of evidence most of us non tribal humans are deficient in Vitamin D.  The data is stacking up too, low levels of vitamin D has been linked to: congestive heart failure, cancers, bone loss (rickets anyone), diabetes, depression to name a few. So lets do like our Scandinavian friends and make sure to get the sunshine vitamin naturally, by taking a daily dose of cod liver oil. By the way it's not nearly as disgusting as it sounds.

Vitamin A is a bit more common in foods, but also very important.  It is important to get your vitamin A from natural food sources, and absolutely avoid it in supplementation.  The kind of vitamin A that your body uses most ready is retinol. The true food sources of retinol are animal livers, eggs, cheese and cream. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and greens have a form of vitamin A known as beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene must be converted in your body to retinol. Vitamin A helps the body fight infections, protects the eyes, prevents cancer, strengthens bones, prevents degeneration,  and fortifies the immune system.

Of course cod liver oil also has  a healthy dose of Omega 3's in the most ready to use forms DHA and EPA. Unlike seed supplements that claim to have high levels of Omega 3 but really have ALA, which the body must convert (somewhat inefficiently to DHA and EPA).  Flaxseed oil has also been known to cause inflammation, and possibly promote prostate cancer (so much for being a health food). If you want the real deal you're going to have to stick with fish.

Some great brands are:
Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Carlsons Cod Liver Oil
Genuine Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Here is a link to an in depth article on Cod Liver Oil: The number one Superfood

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