Benefits of Cod Liver Oil: Grandma’s Super Food

Join Julie on Crunchy Christian Podcast as she talks about the benefits of cod liver oil, grandma’s super food for the cold weather months.Join Julie on Crunchy Christian Podcast as she talks about the benefits of cod liver oil, grandma’s super food for the cold weather months. Ever wondered why she traditionally gave each child a spoonful every day? Listen and find out!

Historical Uses of Cod Liver Oil

For centuries, the people of northern Europe knew the benefits of cod liver oil and used it in ointments and salves as well as in cooking. They’ve enjoyed robust health, even in the harshest conditions, long before other cultures started taking it internally.

Then, in the 1700’s, medical doctors in England began using it internally. They found it effective for chronic rheumatism and by the 1830’s, doctors used it to combat tuberculosis, rickets, malnourishment, osteomalacia (softening of the bones), and some eye conditions.

During World War II, the British government gave out cod liver oil for free to pregnant and nursing mothers, children under age 5, and those over age 40. Even after the war, Britain continued this program for another 30 years because it produced the healthiest generation of children England had ever seen.

Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

Over the last 100 years, research and observation have unraveled some of the mysteries hidden in food, including the health benefits of cod liver oil. While we don’t know everything, we know that this “liquid gold” contains vitamin A, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids.

While many people don’t suffer from vitamin A deficiency, vitamin D is a different story.. In fact, an estimated 1 billion suffer from vitamin D deficiency worldwide. And, most people also don’t get enough EPA and DHA rich omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, they get too many omega-6’s. But, let’s back up a minute. You need essential fatty acids (EFAs) because your body needs them but can’t make them itself. They must come from your diet. These fats are used in every cell of your body, but especially in the eyes and nervous system. The retina and the brain’s gray matter are rich with omega-3 type EFAs.

Omega-3’s also play an important role in the immune system, either promoting or inhibiting inflammation, with omega-3’s generally inhibiting inflammation. Interestingly, EFAs play a role in turning genes on and off as well. Therefore, some of the possible health benefits of cod liver oil is reducing inflammation and turning off genes for disease.Learn more about the importance of Omega-3’s on the podcast!

Vitamin D or Die?

Yes, vitamin D deficiency is associated with a shorter lifespan. But, here’s a fun fact: vitamin D isn’t a vitamin. It is a group of chemicals often thought of as hormones. “Vitamin” D starts out in the skin as a form of cholesterol that, in the presence of ultraviolet light, is converted by an enzyme into pre-vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). (Dietary vitamin D is already in this form). Then it travels to the liver, where another enzyme converts it to calcifediol. The kidneys convert it further to the active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, which travels around in the bloodstream. All this is to say that it takes cholesterol (yes, cholesterol!) and sunlight for the body to produce enough vitamin D. You need vitamin D to be able to absorb calcium and phosphorus, both necessary for healthy bones. But, our bodies use calcium in other places, too, which is why most of our tissues and cells have receptors for vitamin D. Find out more on the podcast.

Another benefit of cod liver oil: Vitamin A

Most people have no trouble getting enough vitamin A from eggs, milk, liver, fish, and vegetables. Vitamin A comes in two major forms and the easiest for your body to use comes from animal sources. Vegetable sources need to be converted into a usable form. It makes sense that the form most easily used comes from animals because vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that, in order for the body to absorb it, it needs to be eaten with fat. That’s a good reason to eat vegetables with butter or oil. You probably already know that this vitamin is necessary for good eyesight. But, did you know that it also keeps your skin looking young and plays an important role in cell growth and differentiation? Find out more about vitamin A on the podcast.

Other resources

Echinacea versus Elderberry

How to Stock Your Winter Herbal Medicine Chest

And don’t forget to check out the new picture book, The Secret Spice. This is the first in a series of children’s books featuring plants and includes a special surprise inside. Check it out! Makes a great gift and can be used for homeschooling, too!

 

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