We all need good nutrition for optimum wellbeing but this may be of even greater importance in our golden years. Of the many nutrients that benefit healthy ageing, omega-3s are superstars since they are essential to the proper functioning of every cell in our bodies.
The main beneficial omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are naturally highly concentrated in Arctic cod liver oil. The difference between Arctic cod liver oil and other fish oils is that Arctic cod liver oil generally contains 50% more DHA than EPA, whereas other fish oils are naturally higher in EPA than DHA.
This ratio makes Arctic cod liver oil stand out as a superfood for supporting systems that have an abundance of DHA such as the brain and eyes. In addition to this, Arctic cod liver oil contains a rare supply of naturally occurring vitamins A and D, providing further support for a range of body systems such as skin cell and immune support.
Here are 6 ways that the nutrients found in Arctic Cod Liver Oil have been shown to support ageing & immunity:
1. Heart health
Increasing levels of evidence have shown the beneficial impacts of dietary Omega 3’s against heart disease, and gaining sufficient omega-3 might be easiest done in the form of a cod liver oil supplement (1). Studies have indicated that dietary omega-3s appear to decrease the cardiovascular risk factors that lead to heart disease (2,3). This has been particularly obvious when cod liver oil supplementation has occurred in the Western diet. One particular study found that supplementing a typical Western diet with cod liver oil had positive effects on the heart health of study participants (1).
This was likely due to the high concentration of omega-3’s contained in cod liver oil. As cardiovascular disease is a prominent health issue in Australia, Arctic cod liver oil may be an important addition to one’s diet in support of improving heart health (4).
2. Brain health
The brain tissue of humans is predominantly composed of lipids, which are made up of different fatty acids. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. The levels of DHA in the brain increase during development and decrease with ageing. Further to this, DHA levels in the brain can be altered by dietary intake of omega-3s (5).
A number of studies have suggested that low levels of DHA in the brain are linked to an increased risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults (6). Therefore, because of the rich profile of DHA in cod liver oil, supplementation of this particular fish oil may be specifically beneficial for the ageing population in support of brain health.
3. Bone strength
One of the main draw factors of cod liver oil is its naturally occurring vitamin D. While the most abundant method for increasing one’s vitamin D status is usually through sunlight exposure, sufficient and safe amounts of healthy sun exposure are increasingly difficult to achieve for many in the modern population.
Therefore, cod liver oil supplementation may be a valuable alternative for supporting one’s required daily intake of vitamin D for optimal bone health. Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterised by decreased bone mass that occurs primarily in postmenopausal women (7). This disease places them at greater risk of fractures in their later life. Therefore, cod liver oil may be beneficial for supporting bone development and maintenance throughout life, and particularly in later life when the risk of bone fracture is increased.
Deteriorating eyesight is a common health problem in the ageing population. As with the brain, the eye is highly enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, with particularly high levels of DHA present in the retina of the eye (8). Therefore, DHA has an important functional role in the retina, primarily helping minimise the damage that is caused from the ongoing exposure to light throughout life (12).
Therefore, people over the age of 50 are recommended a regular intake of marine fish or a food supplement that has high concentrations of DHA, such as cod liver oil, to support their eye health (12). In addition to this, cod liver oil is appealing because it is a good source of naturally occurring vitamin A in its most ‘active’ form, which may support individuals who have problems with night vision.
5. Skin care
Human skin plays a pivotal role in the feeling of wellbeing and physical attractiveness in an individual (14). Our skin is continuously exposed to internal and external influences that may alter its condition. As a result, we may experience inflammation, immune dysfunction, skin disorders, and ultimately ageing.
The functioning and attractiveness of the skin are dependent on nutrition, as evidenced by the characteristic skin lesions that often occur from particular deficiencies in the diet. (14) Dietary supplementation with specific vitamins, minerals, or essential fatty acids will therefore support skin care in these situations (15). Many reports have suggested that the intake of omega-3s, (EPA and DHA), may provide considerable health benefits in relation to inflammatory diseases that have the potential to cause rashes, lesions or other disorders to the skin. One study found that a relatively low supplemented dose of EPA and DHA within a 4-week period was protective against UV radiation (16). Therefore, cod liver oil supplementation may be recommended to help and support skin care in later life.
6. Immune system
Many studies have found that the anti-inflammatory profile of cod liver oil supports the immune response of an individual. Further to this, the effect of omega-3 dietary supplementation has been shown to improve clinical variables of disease activity (17). One study found that cod liver oil supplementation for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis allowed these patients to decrease their NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) intake, thus improving gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health without any worsening of disease activity (17).
Another study produced results that suggested a protective effect of cod liver oil supplementation against type 1 diabetes (18). Numerous changes occur in the immune system with advancing age, probably contributing to a decreased immune response (20).
Looking at these amazing benefits for multiple body systems, you can see why Arctic cod liver oil is a superstar for immune support and healthy ageing.
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil™ is made from 100% wild Arctic cod. Unlike other “cod liver oils” on the market, no fish body oils or synthetic vitamins or additives are ever used.
Nordic Naturals award-winning Arctic Cod Liver Oil™ is made exclusively from wild Arctic cod, and is an ideal choice to help boost immune system health during the colder months. Vertically integrated from catch to finished product, Arctic Cod Liver Oil far surpasses the strict European Pharmacopoeia Standard for fish oil purity and freshness. Simply put it’s some of freshest cod liver oil in the world.
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver oil recently won in the ‘Bone and Joint’ category of the Good Magazine Best of Natural Awards.
Available from all good health stores. To find a store near you visit http://www.therahealth.com.au/store-locator
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- Lorenz R, Spengler U, Fischer S, Duhm J and Weber PC. Platelet Function, Thromboxane Formation and Blood Pressure Control During Supplementation of the Western Diet with Cod Liver Oil. Circulation 1983;67:504-511.
- Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. Am J Clin Nutr 1991;54:438-463.
- Hu FB, Bronner L and Willett WC. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. JAMA 2002;287)14):1815-21.
- Heart Foundation. 2014. Data and statistics. Available at:http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/information-for-professionals/data-and-statistics/Pages/default.aspx. [Accessed 26 March 14].
- Innis SM. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain Res 2008;doi 10.1016.
- Sydenham E, Dangour AD and Lim W-S. Omega 3 fatty acid for the prevention of cognitive decline and dementia. Sao Paulo Med J 2012;130(6):419.
- Rajakumar K. Vitamin D, Cod-Liver Oil, Sunlight, and Rickets: A Historical Perspective. Pediatrics 2003;112;e132.
- Hodge W, Barnes D, Schachter HM et al. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Eye Health. AHRQ 2005;117:12.
- James MJ, Gibson RA and Cleland LG. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and inflammatory mediator production. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71.
- Rodriguez de Turco EB, Gordon WC and Bazan NG. Rapid and selective uptake, metabolism, and cellular distribution of docosahexenoic acid among rod and cone photoreceptor cells in the frog retina. J Neurosci 1991;11(11):3667-78.
- Vingerling JR, Dielemans I, Bots ML et al. Age-related macular degeneration is associated with atherosclerosis. The Rotterdam Study. Am J Epidemiol 1995;142(4):404-9.
- Bryhn M. 2007. Can Omega-3 Fatty Acids Prevent Blindness? Available at: http://www.parisan.de/fileadmin/parisan/user_upload/EPAX_-_Eye_Health.pdf (Accessed 26 March 2014).
- Neuringer M. Infant vision and retinal function in studies of dietary long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acids. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:256-267.
- Boelsma E, Hendriks HFJ and Roza L. Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:853-64.
- Roe DA. Current etiologies and cutaneous signs of vitamin deficiencies. Roe Da, ed. Nutrition and the skin. Contemporary issues in clinical nutrition. New York: Alan R Liss Inc, 1986;81-98.
- Orengo IF, Black HS and Wolf JE. Influence of fish oil supplementation on the minimal erythema dose in humans. Arch Dermatol Res 1992;284:219-21.
- Galarraga B, Ho M and Youssef HM. Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology 2008;47:665-669.
- Stene LC, Ulriksen J, Magnus P and Joner G. Use of cod liver oil during pregnancy associated with lower risk of Type 1 diabetes in the offspring. Diabetologia 2000;43:1093-98.
- Stene LC, Joner G and the Norwegian Childhood Diabetes Study Group. Use of cod liver oil during the first year of life is associated with lower risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes: a large, population-based, case-control study. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:1128-34.
- Immunity & Ageing. 2014. About Immunity & Ageing. Available at http://www.immunityageing.com/about (Accessed 27 March 2014).