The Benefits Of Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is quickly becoming one of the most popular nutritional supplements, thanks to its effects against pain, inflammation and infection.

Cod liver oil is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to help relieve or prevent everything from pain to inflammation to infection. It is already one of the most popular nutritional supplements in Europe, and is quickly gaining followers in the rest of the world, as numerous studies reinforce its health benefits.

Arthritis Relief

Cod liver oil seems to hold the most promise as a treatment for arthritis, thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects. Though associated with the elderly, arthritis afflicts people of all ages, including one out of every 1,000 children, according to some estimates. Not only is the condition painful, it can also be life-threatening, damaging the organs and making sufferers more susceptible to infection. Cod liver oil, however, may relieve both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, slowing or even reversing the progression of the disease. It is thought cod liver oil could delay the need for joint replacement surgery for many arthritis sufferers.

Osteoarthritis results from the breakdown of cartilage surrounding the joints. In healthy people this cartilage protects and cushions the joints, and damage to the cartilage can cause pain and stiffness. The joints can become swollen, and movement can become painful and difficult. In severe cases, the joints may become so damaged that joint replacement surgery is necessary. Certain enzymes in the body contribute to this breakdown, but according to some research, cod liver oil may reduce the amount of these enzymes and inhibit other enzymes that cause pain and inflammation. It is thought the supplement could delay or perhaps reverse damage to the body's cartilage.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disorder, may also benefit. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, but the omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil may fight this inflammation and reduce the often painful and debilitating symptoms. According to more than a dozen studies conducted on cod liver oil, when taken with medication and over a long period of time, the supplement appears to alleviate morning joint stiffness, lessen joint swelling and reduce fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Because cod liver oil suppresses the immune response, it is speculated it could provide relief for several types of auto-immune disease.

Protection for the Heart

It has been found that cultures with a high-fish diet have a lower rate of heart disease, and it is thought cod liver oil could provide powerful protection for the cardiovascular system. It is often recommended for people with heart disease who don't already include large amounts of fish in their diet. It is speculated that fish oils, like cod liver oil, work by lowering cholesterol, reducing the stickiness of blood and decreasing blood pressure. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils keep platelets in the blood from sticking together, which reduces blood clotting and lowers the risk for heart attacks. They may also provide protection by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels.

Numerous studies have suggested fish oils may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease and heart attacks, and they seem to have the greatest effect when taken in large amounts. Taking a significant amount of cod liver oil reduces triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood, and some scientists believe that even moderately high levels of triglycerides may raise the risk for heart disease. In addition, some research suggests omega-3 fatty acids may protect the heart by regulating the heart's electrical activity. This may keep the heart's rhythm stable and protect it from life-threatening rhythm abnormalities.

Other Uses

When combined with a multivitamin containing selenium, cod liver oil may prevent middle ear infections in children. Research has shown that children prone to middle ear infections are deficient in three things: selenium, vitamin A and EPA, which is an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. The children suffered fewer middle ear infections when given cod liver oil, selenium and a multivitamin. It may also be an effective treatment against psoriasis, which, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an auto-immune disorder. Preliminary research suggests cod liver oil may help lessen the itching and redness common to this disease.

There are other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including leafy green plants and vegetable oils like canola, flaxseed and walnut. However, these sources contain only linolenic acid, a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid which humans have only a limited ability to convert and use. Fish oils like cod liver oil contain longer-chain omega 3 fatty acids, enhancing the effectiveness and providing greater health benefits.

As new research continues to affirm the health benefits of cod liver oil, the supplement's popularity continues to grow. Its effects are still not completely understood, because studies shed new light on its properties every day. However, it seems to hold promise for a variety of medical conditions, and it may be an effective way to treat or prevent a wide array of health problems.

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