When I was a kid, my parents would force me to take cod liver oil capsules. By today’s standards, making any child take that stuff would probably be considered borderline child abuse, huh? LOL

At the time, my parents would tell me that as children they were forced to actually drink cod liver oil, so they believed I was getting off easy. Okay, fair enough.

Looking back, I am SOOOO glad they made me take cod liver oil for most of my childhood, because as a Women’s Health Coach I am now in the know about the unbelievable benefits of this liquid gold. I actually consider cod liver oil to be more like a food than a supplement because it is sooooo nutrient dense.

Here’s why you should have cod liver oil in your diet too…

1. Cod Liver oil contains those magical fatty acids EPA and DHA

These are the essential fatty acids you need for lowered inflammation and pain free periods. Numerous studies have found that taking fish oil supplements dramatically improves dysmenorrhea symptoms after three cycles. This is due to it’s rockstar anti-inflammatory properties.

The dose in the study was 1,080 mg of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 720 mg of DHA, the most bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids. This dose is close to what’s in a teaspoon of my favorite brand of CLO – Rosita Real Foods Cod Liver Oil – it contains 443mg of EPA and 605mg of DHA.

Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks for the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin PGE1, while Omega-6 fats are used to produce the pro-inflammatory prostaglandin, PGE2.  When we have more Omega-6 in our diets than Omega-3, our bodies will produce more pro-inflammatory PGE2 and less PGE1 which will basically place the body in a chronically inflamed state.

When you think of inflammation, think pain. When a person is chronically inflamed this can lead to severe menstrual cramps, migraines, endometriosis, fibromyalgia and other conditions associated with chronic pain.

Omega 3’s can help reduce PMS symptoms. 1, 2 This is why fish or cod liver oil is such an important part of our diet.

2. Cod liver oil is super high in vitamin A – VERY IMPORTANT

Vitamin A is best known for its crucial role in the health of our vision but it also plays important roles in our:

  • immune system
  • skin health
  • gene transcription, and
  • reproduction. It promotes full-term pregnancy along with proper development of the fetus, particularly with regard to the facial structure. There is evidence that suggests our jaw bones have narrowed with each generation because of the lack of vitamin A.

There are two types of Vitamin A:

  • retinol which is the preformed type found primarily in animal liver, egg yolks, and kidney
  • beta-carotene which is a vitamin A precursor found in fruits and vegetables like, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, cantaloupe, melon, mangos and apricots.

Here’s where it gets interesting – Vitamin A must be converted into retinol in order to be used in the body, which means that getting this vitamin in its preformed state through animal sources is more efficient than through the beta-carotene vegetable sources. And get this, some evidence shows that up to 50% of the population has a genetic issue that prevents the body from converting carotenoids into active vitamin A or retinol.

In addition to this, vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, so it needs to be consumed with fat in order for it to be optimally absorbed into the body. Yup, cod liver oil for the win!!

Studies have shown that 25,000 IU of Vitamin A supplementation can positively impact thyroid function and it has also been shown to play a role in balancing estrogen levels to maintain appropriate uterine wall thickness.  In one study conducted on women with extremely heavy periods, they saw reduced blood flow when they were given a 60,000IU supplement for 35 days.

If you’ve got a thyroid problem or heavy menstruation, it is important to consider your vitamin A intake. 

Got acne and eczema?

Rough, dry skin is a common sign of vitamin A deficiency and characteristic of eczema. And deficiency is also linked to keratosis pilaris or chicken skin, dry skin, acne and psoriasis.

NOTE: Fish oil does not contain vitamin A. This is one of the biggest differences between CLO and regular fish oil. 

3. Cod liver oil is one of the few food sources of vitamin D

Cod liver oil is particularly great because it’s one of the few foods that contains vitamin D, which works in conjunction with vitamin A. Nature – always looking out for us. Additionally, vitamin D protects against vitamin A toxicity. Vitamin D is one of those non-negotiables for menstrual and reproductive health which is why I call it the “Period Vitamin”. Read all about it here.

One teaspoon of cod liver oil contains about 400IU of vitamin D a day. Most people need about 2000IU a day as a maintenance dose, which you can get by being in the sun and consuming pastured eggs (it’s in the egg yolks), or fatty fish like herring, fatty tuna, rainbow trout, salmon, sardines, and mackerel which have between 250 and 1,000 IU of vitamin D per three-and-a-half-ounce serving.

If you’re experiencing issues with your menstrual cycle I highly recommend getting your Vitamin D levels checked to make sure you’re not deficient.  You can do this from home with this Vitamin D Test from Lets Get Checked.  Be sure to use discount code Hormones20 to get 20% off the price of the test.

How much to cod liver oil should you take?

One teaspoon of Rosita Real Foods Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil per day should be enough. I take a tablespoon but that is because I tend towards very dry skin, hair and eyes, and I’ve found that dose also helps prevent soft spots on my teeth and cavities (purely my own anecdotal evidence).

I prefer Rosita to the Blue Pastures Fermented cod liver oil because I definitely have some histamine issues and have found that the fermented cod liver oil makes me itchy, versus the extra virgin fish oil. Rosita has a fresh, taste (believe it or not), and they are tested independently for impurities etc. 

It is fresh, but fishy (no doubt), so I usually take the tablespoon of CLO at night and chase it with lemon water. Then I brush my teeth. Easy!!!

They also make capsules but I’ve found the liquid to be far more effective.