As the name would suggest, this oil is extracted from the liver of cod; this is important because the unsaturated fatty acids we get from oily fish are essential for all manner of physiological functions and are not found in high amounts in other foods sources.
Although there is the potential to consume enough of these fatty acids from our diet from eating fish regularly, many people who do not eat fish regularly would likely benefit from regular supplementation with fish oils, and even those who do eat oily fish on occasion there might be some additional benefits to regularly supplementing with fish oils.
What is Cod Liver Oil?
The real ‘magic’ of cod liver oil lies in the types of unsaturated fatty acids it contains. There are two main types of essential dietary fatty acids, omega-6 and omega-3; omega-6 is in lots of the foods we typically eat, including grains, nuts, seeds, meat and dairy, however omega-3 is found in a much smaller variety of foods including oily fish and certain nuts and seeds.
However, it is not just the amount of omega-3 that we consume that is important, it is also the type of omega-3, and this is where plant-based sources can be limited. The three main types of omega-3 found in foods are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found in fish oils and ALA is the form found in large amounts in seeds such as chia and flax.
Although ALA is considered an essential and healthy fatty acid, it is EPA and DHA that have some serious ‘weight’ when it comes to promoting health and even potential performance boosting benefits. ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA, however only around 10-20% of ALA is synthesised to EPA and 1-9% of DHA.
What are the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids?
1.) The reason that omega-3s are essential is that they play many important roles in the body, acting as important cellular signallers controlling processes such as inflammation and are incorporated into our cells to make them structurally ‘better’ and improve their function.
2.) Omega-3 has been shown to lower blood fat levels to healthy levels, and due to its anti-inflammatory effects has been effective in reducing in inflammation in conditions such as arthritis, joint injury and even post-exercise muscle damage.
3.) Many diseases have an inflammatory component, some that we might not expect such as Alzheimer’s and even depression. This means a diet rich in fish oils might help reduce risk of these types of diseases. Due to its cognitive benefits fish oils are often categorised as ‘nootropic’ helping to boost mental performance.
4.) It is for these reasons that consuming enough omega-3 in the diet, especially EPA and DHA, has been associated with better arterial health, improved blood profiles and even improvements in mental and physical health and performance.
Cod liver oil dosage
The dose that you take is typically dependant on two factors; firstly, how much oily fish are you consuming on a weekly basis and secondly, what reason are you using fish oils.
If you’re taking this supplement for general health, around 1000mg of fish oils per day, containing 250mg of EPA and DHA, is often recommended and this can easily be obtained from around 100g of oily fish like salmon per day.
However, for those who don’t eat much fish, or eat fish at all, then taking 1000-2000mg of fish oil per day should cover your health bases sufficiently.
There is a suggestion that for those with muscle soreness or inflammation from injury that taking higher doses of up to 6000mg per day, split over three doses of 2000mg, might help reduce soreness and promote recovery. A recent study even showed high dose omega-3 supplementation might help support muscle growth.
Cod liver oil & omega-3 supplements
For a straight-up cod liver oil supplement, BULK POWDERS® Cod Liver Oil softgels contain 1000mg of pure cod liver oil, including 80mg EPA and 110mg DHA, and 100% EU RDA of vitamin D and vitamin A.
For a blend of fish oils, try our Omega 3 Fish Oil softgels, sourced from cold water fish including tuna, mackerel, trout, salmon and halibut. This supplement contains 1000mg of omega-3, 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA per softgel. As a bonus, our Omega 3 Fish Oil tablets also contain vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant helping to protect the omega-3 fatty acids against oxidation which causes them to spoil, making sure your omega-3 is of premium quality and stays that way.
Storing cod liver oil & fish oil
When using fish oil, it is important to store them out of direct sunlight and out of heat as this can cause the fatty acids to ‘oxidise’, which causes the fish oil to spoil and become rancid. Although this isn’t dangerous, it is likely to impact on the effectiveness of your fish oils, so keeping them in the fridge is probably a good idea!
Cod liver oil side effects
Fish oil is very safe in the dosages outlined here, however for those who take aspirin or other medical blood thinners (like warfarin) then it is always worth getting advice from a doctor because omega-3 also demonstrates these effects on the body.
The only concern for many people is fishy burps/breath! This might not be the most pleasant experience for you or those around you, however this can easily be avoided simply consuming your fish oils with other meals/drinks and, worst case, you always have mints or chewing gum to fall back on!
Omega- 3’s are essential forms of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are, alongside omega-6, essential nutrients for our health. The roles that omega-3 play in the body are diverse, and EPA and DHA are big players, impacting on many of the body’s systems; from controlling inflammation to brain function and even implicated in promoting muscle growth. Yet despite these important roles many people fall short of daily recommended intakes… especially those who do not regularly eat oily fish.
Fish oil supplements are therefore an effective way to meet daily omega-3 needs and although there is risk of these supplements ‘oxidising’ at warm temperatures or when exposed to direct sunlight, proper storage should help preserve their quality. Good quality fish oils also likely contain vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant which helps to protect our omega-3’s from damage helping to preserve freshness and effectiveness.