Fresh cod liver oil is an excellent source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Unlike most fish oil products, cod liver oil is unique in that it naturally contains a higher ratio of DHA to EPA, and typically delivers omega-3s in the triglyceride molecular form, the best form for their absorption by the body. Both EPA and DHA play vital roles in aspects of healthy ageing and immune function by influencing muscle and bone mass, mobility, energy, immune responses, and cognitive performance.
Ensuring adequate intake of omega-3s with cod liver oil is an easy lifestyle change that can have a positive effect on many aspects of health. Here are some of the most notable omega-3 benefits of cod liver oil (a.k.a. CLO).
1. Omega-3s in CLO can support immune health via the gut
Having an overabundance of unhealthy gut bacteria can impair the immune system and accelerate the ageing process. Diet and lifestyle choices—including omega-3 consumption—are key factors for helping to establish a favourable environment for beneficial gut bacteria. Some studies have shown that increased consumption of omega-3s helps promote the growth of “good bacteria” in your gut, while other studies have shown a positive connection between adequate amounts of beneficial gut bacteria and a healthier immune response.
2. Omega-3 intake may influence muscle and bone strength
As we age, our immune system produces higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins that may impair muscle and bone health. Omega-3s supplements may support healthier blood levels of these age-associated proteins. Several studies report that people with higher dietary intake of omega-3s tend to have stronger muscles, increased exercise capacity, and denser bones. So consider a cod liver oil (especially one with vitamin D) for musculoskeletal health.
3. Omega-3s may help counter the effects of stress
Chronic stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can negatively impact immune health, especially if it remains elevated over a period of time. Some research studies have shown that omega-3 supplements may reduce the body’s production of cortisol. Furthermore, people who are “stressed out” tend to already have lower blood levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA, potentially making it even more important for these individuals to consume supplemental omega-3s in order to keep from getting sick.
4. Omega-3s in CLO provide the building blocks for lasting, healthy skin
The skin is the largest organ in the body that also contains significant amounts of omega-3s. Due to years of exposure to ultraviolet light, toxins, and various irritants, the skin requires nutrients like omega-3s to help counter these stresses at the cellular level. The skin barrier is an important structure that protects the body and helps maintain a youthful appearance. Adequate intake of omega-3s supports skin cell functions, promotes the skin barrier, and increases the skin’s ability to retain water—a primary component of healthy skin. Because a portion of the omega-3s we consume eventually makes its way into the skin, these essential fats are vital for skin health.
5. Omega-3s in CLO support cardiovascular health
As we age, blood vessels stiffen, and blood pressure tends to increase, which places additional stress on the heart. Studies suggest that diets rich in omega-3s support healthy blood vessels, and several have reported that omega-3 supplements promote positive blood vessel health scores. Additionally, preliminary research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may also help reduce oxidative stress within the blood vessels, promoting an optimal environment for the vasculature.
6. Higher intake of omega-3s is beneficial for eye moisture
People with higher dietary intake of omega-3s are less likely to experience symptoms of dry eyes, and they also tend to have healthier eye glands. Research has shown that omega-3 supplements can help stimulate the tear gland’s production of fatty oils on the eye surface. As ageing, and the use of digital devices like phones, tablets, and computers remain primary risk factors for eye dryness, consuming adequate amounts of omega-3s is a smart investment in long-term eye health.
Choosing the right cod liver oil
It’s a good idea to select a CLO product that’s from wild-caught sustainable cod, and that does not contain synthetic additives. Arctic Cod Liver Oil products are a good choice. Sustainable species like Arctic cod have several advantages. Arctic cod from Norway are often sourced using small boats owned and operated by independent cod fishermen, so demand for Arctic cod supports local fishing communities. Also, these boats leave and return daily which means they have a much shorter transport time from catch to processing than larger trawling vessels. This short time helps maximise fish oil freshness, and the efficacy of the omega-3 fats in Arctic Cod Liver Oil.
By Warren Maginn, BHSc. (Nutr. Med.), GradCert. (Hum. Nutr.)
Functional Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and Educator
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.
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This article is sponsored content in conjunction with Thera Health.