Who would have believed she would enjoy the taste of fermented cod liver oil? Certainly not Carrie herself. But that is just how she feels now. She started taking it on the recommendation that it would help her get pregnant, supplying some of the most important prenatal vitamins in the form of whole food natural vitamins. And she loves the way it makes her feel, with more energy and vitality than she’s had since she was a teenager.
You may have heard tales of your grandmother having to take her spoonful of this revered oil throughout her childhood. If that grandmother also had a good whole food diet throughout most of her life, chances are she is still healthy and relatively free of health problems. This is a great example of how the best sources of vitamins, including the essential prenatal vitamins, are in your food and specific whole food supplements. Cod liver oil is one of those special supplements you want to make sure and include.
What Prenatal Vitamins Does Cod Liver Oil Supply?
*It is a supplement made from the liver of cod fish
*It contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids – EPA, DHA
*It contains high levels of vitamins A and D
*Vitamin A 20,000 IU/day
*Vitamin D 4,000 IU/day
*These nutrients are critical for fertility and a healthy baby
Fermented cod liver oil is made by the traditional method of fermenting the cod livers, and no heat is used. Thousands of micro-nutrients are present in this oil, including several different natural forms of vitamin A and D and the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They are all present in the proper amounts and ratios to each other. It is truly a whole food supplement. This is absolutely the best type available.
Regular cod liver oil is made from cooking cod livers. This process destroys most of the natural vitamin A and D, which are then added back, often in a synthetic form. Vitamin D levels may be very low in these products. Fish oil and krill oil come from the tissues of oily fish, not the livers. These oils are made from by-products of the fish meal industry. They do contain EPA and DHA, but have very low levels of vitamins A and D. Both of these alternatives are far inferior for supplying essential prenatal vitamins in the most concentrated and effective form possible.
It is important to note that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids should be in the proper ratio to each other. This is a big topic best covered in another article. Just do not get over enthusiastic and consume excessive amounts of fatty fish, fish oil and cod liver oil. And eat plenty of whole food sources of omega-6’s, such as nuts and seeds and olive oil. Both are present in many whole foods.
Fermented cod liver oil, and the vitamins and essential fatty acids that it supplies, are essential to fertility, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby. Supplementation with it during pregnancy and childhood results in higher IQ of children, less ear infections, less colds, and lower risk of type-1 diabetes. Women are more likely to have normal birth weight babies, avoiding the many health problems associated with low birth weight babies. Scientific studies show cod liver oil is also helpful for depression, anxiety, cancer, heart health, type-2 diabetes, joint pain, arthritis, for preventing osteoporosis and more.
It is very important to consume the fat soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D, E and K2) in the proper ratio to each other. They work synergistically. If you consume one of these to the exclusion of the others, you are at greater risk for the potential toxicity associated with consuming fat soluble vitamins. Prevent this by consuming a nutrient dense, whole food diet every day. This means eating plenty of animal products from naturally raised animals. Common examples are dairy products from grass-fed cows, eggs, shellfish, liver, and all kinds of pasture raised meats.
Research shows that vitamin A taken in oil-based preparations is ten times less toxic than water-based. Levels up to 300,00 IU per day have been shown to be safe for adults for months to years. Those with liver and kidney disease, ingesting alcohol, and eating low-fat and low protein diets need to be more careful. Again, consuming adequate amounts of all of the fat soluble vitamins appears to be protective against toxicity.
Recommended doses for women are 20,000 IU vitamin A daily and 4,000 IU vitamin D daily. In the summer, if you sunbathe regularly without sunscreen (or if you live in the tropics), you may want to have your vitamin D level checked. It is a blood test for 25(OH)D.
Three issues to be aware of:
1. Toxins from contaminated fish
2. Toxins from manufacturing process
3. Low vitamin content
All fish-based supplements may contain toxins such as mercury and PCB’s found in fish. Make sure your supplement is tested regularly for purity. Oil made from fish caught in the North Atlantic region are rarely contaminated. Fish oils from other parts of the world, such as China, are more likely to be contaminated.
Another problem with most commercial manufacturing of cod liver oil and fish oil is that the refining process uses toxic alkali, bleaching, deodorization and high heat. Fermented cod liver oil is not made by this unhealthy process.
Make sure and choose a fermented cod liver oil that is high in vitamins A and D, essential fatty acids, and the many necessary co-factors. If you cannot get fermented oil, choose a high-vitamin oil with natural vitamins added back. The last choice would be synthetic vitamins in the correct proportions. Avoid those with low levels of vitamin A and D, and those with adequate vitamin A but low levels of vitamin D.
If you have any trouble tolerating cod liver oil, such as tasting it later or digestive upset, start slowly. As you change to a higher animal fat whole food diet your body will begin to get the critical nutrients that it needs to properly digest fats.
Take your fermented cod liver oil every day of your life. Take it before and during the time you are trying to get pregnant, while you are pregnant, while you are breastfeeding, and beyond. Lucky for you, today it is available in a capsule as well as a liquid, and both plain and flavored. Though many actually like the taste, and everyone certainly enjoys the benefits.
To Your Vibrant Health!
Veronica Tilden, DO