What are the real, research proven benefits of fish oil, and why should you take it as a food supplement?
Table of Contents
What is the difference between fish oil and cod liver oil?
‘Many people get confused about the difference between fish oil liquid and cod liver oil. You can consider cod liver oil as fish oil+. The 2 are the same except that cod liver oil contains natural vitamin D and A.’
What do we need vitamin D for?
- Healthy bones
- Healthy immune system
- Reduce risk of MS
- Helps keep the brain working in later life
- Possible link to maintaining healthy body weight
- Help reduce severity of asthma symptoms
- Helps reduce risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women
- Deficiency in vitamin D has been linked to cancer
- Cod liver oil is a good source of vitamin A, D and Omega 3 fatty-acids
What can cod liver oil do for me then?
To read the research that supports each of these claims, click the text to follow the link
- reduces the progression of cardiovascular disease
- reduces anxiety, depression and sleeping problems EicosaPentaenoic Acid (EPA)
- improves blood flow
- helps reduce blood pressure (pdf)
- Strengthen Bones and Teeth vitamin D (pdf)
- Improve Vision – Vitamin A helps to maintain a healthy immune system, helps resist bacterial and viral infections, and beneficial for eyesight and healthy skin. Also DocosaHexaenoic Acid (DHA)
- Healthy Skin (pdf)
- Omega 3 is important for the brain development of the foetus in pregnancy It also has anti-inflammatory properties which help relieve the symptoms of arthritis, improve brain function, reduce stress, prevent allergies, relieve asthma, and help with learning and behavioral disorders including bipolar syndrome.
- Arthritis – Improvements in the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis have been reported in patients taking fish oil supplements. EicosaPentaenoic Acid (EPA)
- Reduces cancer risks
Real life cases:
I asked my Father, who has taken cod liver oil for years now, what he thought they did for him. He said he took it because he had trouble with his knees. He used to regularly walk the couple of miles from our house to church on Sundays.
He says he noticed an increased problem with pain and mobility in his knees if he stopped taking cod liver oil. He also told me about a little old lady called Evelyn, who lived across the road from us when I was a child. She took a spoonful of cod liver oil every day, all her life and was able to walk miles to everywhere well into her seventies.
I have recently started taking both glucosamine and cod liver oil, again, for my knees, having sustained major injuries in my younger days as a rugby player. I too would say that I get more pain if I forget to take them regularly, however have not taken the glucosamine and the cod liver oil in isolation from each other, so it is hard to isolate what exactly is having a positive effect on me in this case.
The research suggests that cod liver oil does help reduce blood pressure, but the effect is a small one. There is more strength, however, in the research findings that support the fact that cod liver oil improves blood flow. (This research is related to how platelets form).
There is strong clinical research to support the fact that it helps with arthritis, and that it helps also with anxiety and sleeping problems. The research here (pdf) is conflicting with relation to bone density and calcium absorption.
There is very little human based research on the benefits of fish oil on bones and teeth, however if the search is refined to calcium absorption in connection with vitamin D (which is one of fish oil’s main beneficial ingredients) then there is much stronger research to support this. (Dawson-Hughes, Karis, Krall and Dallal,1997) Although the clinical improvement in arthritis may only be moderate, studies show that the improvement in pain is much more marked. (Tidow-Kebritchi and Mobarhan, 2009)
There is very strong research to support the reduced risk of cancer and its connection with fish oil supplements. Night vision improvements are linked to vitamin A supplements, a vitamin which is contained in fish oil. The research into fish oil is endless, as are its benefits, it seems. Initial research into effects on dermatitis are promising, and I imagine, was I to research all the claims stated for the benefits of fish oil / cod liver oil then I feel confident I would find much more research to support it.