Cod liver oil is the natural, traditional health supplement a lot of us have never heard of. An excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosahexaenoic acid (EPA) like fish oil, cod liver oil has the added advantage of being an excellent source of vitamins A and D. But the vitamin content of cod liver oil is not its only advantage over fish oil. (See cod liver oil vs fish oil for a comparison)
- The amounts of vitamins A and D you see listed on the label of a bottle of cod liver oil are minimums, not maximums.
- Fermented cod liver oil preserves more DHA and EPA than mechanically processed cod liver oil.
- Fermented cod liver oil provides coenzyme Q10.
- Cod liver oil provides more nutrients than just essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.
- Cod liver oil can be highly protective of infant health. A study in Norway found that breastfeeding mothers who take cod liver oil, but not breastfeeding mothers who take fish oil, vitamin A, and vitamin D, have children who are less likely to develop type 1 diabetes. Children who are breastfed by mothers who take cod liver oil also have lower rates of eczema, asthma, and allergies.
Cod is a living thing, and living things display natural differences. Some cod simply have more vitamins in their bodies than others. When you see nutritional information on a cod liver oil product, you are reading the minimum values offered by the product, not the maximum values.
Cod liver oil does not, however, provide toxic levels of either vitamin. After all, extremely high concentrations of either vitamin would also be toxic to the fish.
Fermentation releases the oils from cod liver slowly and naturally, without heat. Steaming cod livers to extract the oil, on the other hand, is faster and cheaper, but too much heat can actually damage the oil.
Careful attention to the bacteria involved in the fermentation process ensures that the cod liver oil produced is fermented, not, as was often the case before 1980, rancid.
If you want to get all your major heart health supplements in a single dose, you could take Xtend Life's fish oil with Co-Q10. It's an excellent product. But any fermented cod liver oil also provides Co-Q10.
As mentioned previously, cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamins A and D. And many formulas will also include vitamin E. But cod liver oil also provides lycopene and astaxanthin, two antioxidant pigments that have to be added to the best brands of fish oil.
Cod liver oil straight up tastes a little like liquid sardines, but there are many brands flavored with lemon or cherry extracts. Nordic Naturals offers cod liver oil in chocolate, cherry, and lemon flavored capsules. Once you see the health benefits of cod liver oil, however, you will learn to love the taste.