Omega-3s have numerous benefits, including cardiovascular disease, type 1 diabetes, certain types of cancer, glaucoma, and a reduced risk of stroke. This nutrient is essential for the body to function, but our body cannot produce it on its own. It is therefore important to get enough omega-3 fatty acids from external sources.
If you are looking for a way to get omega-3 fatty acids, there are many ways to go about it. If you eat 2-3 servings of fish a week and find it impossible to include omega 3 in your diet, supplements like cod liver oil and fish oil can help.
Many people use these supplements to improve their health and prevent chronic diseases. According to a 2012 survey by the National Institutes of Health, 7.8% of adults and 1.1% of children in the United States have had fish oil supplements for the past 30 days.
This article answers common questions: Cod liver oil or fish oil: which is better? Analyze the difference between cod liver oil and fish oil and consider the general health benefits you can expect from taking an omega-3 supplement.
Facts about omega-3 supplements
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are mainly obtained from fish, and ALA is mainly obtained from plant sources such as flaxseed and walnut. Omega-3 supplements like cod liver oil and fish oil provide the EPA and DHA that our bodies need.
Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to our heart health. They can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and blood clots. It also helps lower the high blood pressure that is common in adults in the United States.
Omega-3 supplements also help reduce the build-up of high cholesterol and plaque in the arteries. It also reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death, which occurs if the heart is not pumped irregularly or effectively, and prevents blood from being pumped to the remaining critical organs as intended.
It is important to note that while taking omega-3s from a diet such as oily fish can provide these benefits, taking omega-3s from supplements can also cause heart disease. Studies have shown that it does not reduce the risk.
Omega-3 fatty acids have other benefits besides the heart. Studies have shown that it can reduce the risk of glaucoma, certain types of cancer, and certain mental disorders.
Some studies have also shown that including omega-3 fatty acids in your lifestyle, combined with a healthy diet, can improve weight loss.
With all of these potential benefits, you can understand why you want to increase your omega-3 intake. If consuming oily fish like tuna and salmon or omega-3 plant sources like nuts and seeds consistently seems impractical for your lifestyle, you may be interested in taking omega-3 supplements. There will be. But which supplement is right for you? Let’s examine the benefits of each one.
Are These Supplements Safe?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the side effects that users of omega-3 supplements experience are usually mild, if any. These side effects include bad taste, bad breath, headache and gastrointestinal discomfort. This can include symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn.
Another thing to be aware of with omega-3 supplements is that they can interfere with the medications many Americans take to prevent blood clotting. If you are taking any of these medications or are allergic to seafood, it is important to consult your doctor before starting any omega-3 supplements.
While many consumers may be concerned about the mercury content of fish oil, literature research has shown that fish oil capsules are mercury-free. They found that when the oil was extracted from the fish, the mercury and other heavy metals that might be present were actually left behind.
How much do you need to take?
The tricky part about these supplements is that there isn’t a standard recommended dose of EPA or DHA. It is recommended that you read the supplement label and only take the recommended dose. It is important to follow the recommended dosages on the supplement label as too much vitamin A can be toxic, especially if you ingest cod liver oil.
Regardless of which dietary supplement you are taking, you can also consult your doctor to determine the right dosage for you. If you want to research a specific brand of omega-3 supplements, you can use the National Institutes of Health’s nutritional supplement label database.
Benefits of Cod Liver Oil and Fish Oil
The benefits of taking cod liver oil and fish oil differ as follows:
Benefits of cod liver oil
Cod liver oil was widely used around the turn of the century to treat rickets, a bone disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. This is because cod liver oil contains vitamin D. The cod liver oil tested typically provided around 400 IU of vitamin D. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D for adults is 600 IU, so these supplements will provide most of what you need.
An adequate vitamin D diet and nutritional supplements are especially important for people who do not get a lot of sunlight during the day or who do not get enough vitamin D through food alone. In addition, cod liver oil contains vitamin A, which is important for eye health and immune function.
Note that vitamin A can be toxic in large quantities. Therefore, it is important to adhere to the recommended dosages when taking cod liver oil. Cod liver oil has other potential benefits. It has long been a popular folk remedy for inducing labor and treating constipation.
Benefits of fish oil
Unlike certain types of cod liver oil fish oil, commonly referred to as “fish oil”, supplements are slightly different. Fish oil supplements usually contain oils derived from oily fish such as herring, tuna, and anchovy.
Fish oil also contains omega-3s, so it has the same benefits as cod liver oil supplements, but with one major benefit. The fish used in these supplements are thicker than cod. Therefore, fish oil supplements have higher levels of omega-3s. This can mean that taking fish oil supplements as opposed to cod liver oil supplements can have significant benefits for you.
Cod liver oil or fish oil: which is better?
Both cod liver oil and fish oil supplements provide the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids without increasing your weekly intake of oily fish. Both can reduce and improve the risk of glaucoma.
If you are looking for a dietary supplement that gives you the best value for money, fish oil supplements may be for you. It contains higher amounts of omega-3 supplements than cod liver oil supplements, which can be inexpensive for some consumers.
However, if you are undereating of vitamin D or vitamin A, or if you are not getting enough sunlight during the day, it can help to take an omega-3 supplement that also contains these vitamins. In that case, cod liver oil might be right for you. However, one of the drawbacks of this supplement is that it contains less omega-3 fatty acids than fish oil supplements.
As mentioned above, if you are using anticoagulants or have a fish and shellfish allergy, it is important that you consult your doctor before starting these supplements.
Regardless of which dietary supplement you choose, you should be aware that these dietary supplements have very mild side effects overall and, in addition to promoting a healthy diet, can also promote overall health.
Featured Photo Credits: Caroline Atwood on Cod Liver Oil and Fish Oil