For centuries, Scandinavians took cod liver oil to protect them from the long, cold, and dark Northern winters, without knowing that it would protect their heart health, prevent stiff muscles, and alleviate the aching joints of rheumatism. They harvested the delicious Arctic cod, also known locally as skrei, as it made its way up the icy fjords to spawn.
Using the oil extracted from cod fish livers, grandmothers all over Europe and North America seemed to know something when they said to their children, “Take your cod liver oil.” Containing some of the highest concentrations of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, and the miraculous omega 3 fish oils—ALA, EPA and DHA, modern cod liver oil is still one of the best promoters of immune system support and heart health.
Even better for us than our grandmothers ever knew—cod liver oil contains greater amounts of vitamins A and D than almost any other food. Just one hundred grams of cod liver oil has over 100,000 IU of vitamin A for immune support, better vision and reproductive health. It also has 10,000 IU of vitamin D—which helps prevent diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and sixteen types of cancers.
Cod liver oil is used in Europe to prevent heart disease because it helps heal the lining of blood vessels, preventing localized damage and plaques. It is also given in advanced stages of coronary artery disease (CAD) or after a heart attack has occurred, since it supports the elasticity of arteries and facilitates mineral absorption. Our body’s own natural, inflammation-reducing prostaglandins are formed from the EPA (omega-3 fat) present in cod liver oil.
One study showed that supplementing with cod liver oil caused atheromas (artery-blocking plaques) to reduce in size while encouraging the diameter of blood vessels to widen. The relaxed, enlarged vessels transported oxygen-rich blood much better.
Cod liver oil’s effect on cortisol helps to lower blood pressure that has been increased due to stress. Both the Physician’s Health Study and the Japanese EPA Lipid Intervention Study confirmed that consumption of cod liver oil reduces the incidence of “coronary events” and lowers mortality.
Anyone living north of the thirtieth parallel (north of Florida or Southern California) is likely sun-deprived at least half the year and can benefit from cod liver oil’s high level of vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin.” Being loaded with heart healthy omega-3 fats, cod liver oil is also excellent for your joints, immune support, your vascular network, and heart health. Cod liver oil—it’s not just for breakfast anymore!