Making Peace with Cod Liver Oil

I know what you are thinking. Yuck! You may already know of the many benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and fish oils, but cod liver oil is also a great source of vitamins that are of particular benefit during the winter; Vitamin D, A, and E. They are especially useful for our skin, mood, and immune system, which tend to go out of whack during the winter. Taking 1 tbsp daily delivers 2550-8000 IU of Vitamin A, 900-1200 IU of Vitamin D, and 30 IU of Vitamin E along with 3 g of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaeonic acid)).

Both vitamin A and E help promote healthy skin. Vitamin A is necessary for the cells of our skin to divide properly. It also increases collagen production and skin thickness to decrease fine lines. Vitamin E regulates the breakdown of collagen and elastin as well as protect cells membranes from free radical damage. It helps with wound healing and diminishes scar formation. Vitamin D protects against UV-induced skin wrinkling and thickening of the top layer of skin.

Vitamin D has been shown to improve moods in individuals suffering from seasonal affective disorder. Deficiency of vitamin D has also been correlated with depression and cognitive decline. Omega-3 fats have been shown to benefit the treatment of childhood depression. DHA protects cells of the nervous system. Moreover, EPA has been shown to be as effective as prozac in some studies.

Vitamin A is absolutely essential to proper immune function as it plays an essential role in maintaining the epithelial and mucosal surfaces and their secretions. These parts of the immune system create a primary nonspecific host defense mechanism. Furthermore, vitamin A has been shown to stimulate and/or enhance many immune processes. Vitamin E is also essential for normal immune function. Vitamin D stimulates the production of antimicrobial peptides on epithelial surfaces and regulates immune cell functioning

Make sure to check the labels as not all cod liver oils are created equal and many manufactures actual remove the vitamins from the oil or don't use EPA safe choices. Lucky for us most cod liver oils are flavored with orange or lemon so that they are much more tolerable. If it is still hard to swallow, you may try capsules although you will probably need to take between 6 and 9 capsules for the equivalent of 1 tbsp.

Caution: Taking cod liver oil is not recommended if you are pregnant or might be pregnant as high doses of Vitamin A can cause birth defects.