Optimal nutrition is essential for maintaining healthy fertility, but it is also extremely important for pregnancy. Everything you eat, will be making your baby’s body. Studies have shown that omega-3 essential fatty acids, found in cod liver oil not only support healthy fertility, but proper formation of your baby’s nervous system, brain, eyes and heart. Cod liver oil is an essential tool to help ensure you are getting enough essential fatty acids in your diet.
Cod Liver Oil & Fertility
Omega-3 fats contain two acids that are crucial to good health: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). These two acids have been shown to be extremely healthy for the body. Low levels of DHA and EPA have been linked to depression and other mental health issues. DHA is essential for proper brain development, while EPA supports healthy behavior and mood. DHA and EPA combined have greater health benefits than taking a supplement with just one of those essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 acids have been shown to help fertility by:
- Aiding in hormonal regulation in the body.
- Increasing and promoting healthy cervical mucous production.
- Promoting regular ovulation.
- Decreasing inflammatory fertility issues such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts.
- Reducing painful menstruation known as dysmenorrhea.
- Improving the quality of the uterus by increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs.
- Supporting proper sperm production.
It is important to have a plentiful supply of essential fatty acids before becoming pregnant and to continue to eat fish or take fish oil supplements during pregnancy to maintain optimal health. If your diet contains enough omega-3 EFAs, your baby’s needed supply will pass easily through the placenta. If your diet is lacking, your baby will need to draw omega-3s from your own internal stores, which can lead to a long-term deficit that can negatively affect your health. Taking cod liver oil daily helps you to get adequate amounts of omega-3s.
DHA, one of the fatty acids contained in cod liver oil, has a significant impact on the viability and health of sperm. When there are not enough fatty acids present, cholesterol replaces the needed fatty acid in the sperm membrane. This prevents sperm from proper maturation. This, in turn, helps create more free radicals, which damage any healthy sperm that may be present.
By increasing the intake of essential fatty acids through the consumption of fish or fish oil supplements, the resulting sperm are healthier, have better motility, and the chances of a successful conception increase.
Cod Liver Oil & Pregnancy
During pregnancy, essential fatty acids are important to your baby’s brain, eye, and heart development. DHA is necessary in high concentrations for proper brain function, including proper development and cognitive function. Low levels of DHA are linked to premature birth, low birth weight and hyperactivity in children. DHA is an important component for a healthy central nervous system. EPA is necessary to grow a healthy circulatory system.
A study published in Pediatrics (2003; 111:e39–44) showed that mothers who took cod liver oil everyday in pregnancy and 3 months postpartum while breastfeeding, had more intelligent children than mothers who did not. Other studies are showing that babies born to mothers with high levels of DHA do better with visual acuity and visual learning tests. With optimal development that these nutrients provide, studies show that your baby will enjoy enhanced attention span and cognitive function after the birth as well, which will help them learn more effectively.
Having a sufficient level of DHA and EPA in your system is thought to help prevent miscarriage and premature delivery. Premature birth occurs in as many as 6 –10% of births and increases the risk of physical and learning disabilities. DHA and EPA together in pregnancy has been shown to lengthen gestation time.
Increasing your intake of essential fatty acids can result in an increased sense of well-being and health for yourself during pregnancy. Omega-3s have been shown to be instrumental in preventing complications in pregnancy like pre-eclampsia, which can endanger the lives of both mother and baby. It may also lower the risk of postpartum depression after your baby is born.
Continuing to take cod liver oil while breastfeeding has shown to provide adequate amounts of DHA and EPA to your baby. Taking cod liver oil while breastfeeding ensures your baby is getting adequate nutrition for development. Most formulas are devoid of DHA and EPA. Some contain DHA, but not with EPA. DHA and EPA together have complimentary benefits that cannot be achieved alone. Breastfeeding your baby while also taking cod liver oil aids in continued proper development of your baby.
Cod Liver Oil is Natural Source of Vitamin A & D3
Cod liver oil is an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins A and D3. Studies have shown that the typical American diet is lacking in these vitamins. Primitive human diets have been found to have 10 times higher vit. A and D than modern diets.
Vitamin A is essential for:
- Proper development of the retina and vision
- Gene transcription
- Immune function
- Reproductive health
- Embryonic development
- Skin and cellular health
- Antioxidant activity
Vitamin D3 is essential for:
- Proper bone formation, through concentration of calcium and phosphate in the blood
- Proliferation and differentiation of cells
- Neuromuscular function
- Inflammation response
Getting the Facts Straight About Vitamin A and Birth Defects
Some studies have shown that consuming too much vitamin A may cause birth defects. This only happens with synthetic forms of water-soluble forms of vitamin A, when consumed in very high amounts. High quality cod liver oil contains fat soluble vitamin A, in its natural form. When vitamin A is taken as a whole food source like it is in cod liver oil, it is not toxic to developing babies. When vitamin A is combined with vitamin D, it has been shown that the vitamin D protects the body from vitamin A toxicity. This allows the human body to withstand higher levels of vitamin A. That being said, it is still important to not exceed dosage of cod liver oil and to always follow recommended guidelines on the product label.
Besides a healthy diet which includes fish and organ meats, there is no better way to provide healthy DHA, EPA, as well as naturally occurring vitamin A and D3, than with a high quality cod liver oil supplement.
2. Cod Liver Oil During Pregnancy Makes Babies Smarter; Health Notes, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, 2003
3. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids.; University of California, Berkeley, California; 2007 Sep;12(3):207-27.
5. Cod Liver Oil Basics and Recommendations, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, PhD, 2/8/2009