Constipation is characterized by hard stools that are difficult to pass. Stool softeners and bulk-forming and stimulant laxatives help alleviate constipation in different ways. Lubricant laxatives, such as mineral oil, make it easier to pass a bowel movement. These treatments can be harsh and are not intended for long-term use. Cod liver oil is another fat that you may want to try for similar benefits. However, the chemical structure of cod liver oil makes it ineffective as a laxative.
According to the American Cancer Society, mineral oil coats your intestinal surface, preventing the reabsorption of water from your gastrointestinal tract. This softens the stool by keeping water in your intestines and making it easier to go to the bathroom. The reason mineral oil is an effective laxative is that it is able to line your intestines without getting absorbed into your body. Most fats in your diet, including cod liver oil, are broken down during digestion and used by your body for various functions. The chemical composition of mineral oil makes it effective for laxative purposes. In contrast, cod liver oil is mostly absorbed by your body.
Cod Liver Oil Absorption
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations World Health Organization states that only about 2 percent of mineral oil is absorbed by your body. Cod liver oil behaves differently in your body. Cod liver oil is an unsaturated fat with essential omega-3 fatty acids. When you consume cod liver oil from fish or supplements, it is broken down by your digestive tract and absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, it travels to different parts of your body, providing energy and other health benefits, particularly for your heart and cholesterol levels.
Overdosing on cod liver oil can affect your GI tract and cause loose stools. While this may temporarily relieve constipation, high doses of cod liver oil are dangerous and should not be used for this purpose. If you chose to take cod liver oil for general health benefits, try supplementing with 1 to 2 grams per day. This will not do much for constipation, but it may protect your heart and reduce your chances of negative side effects, such as uncontrolled bleeding. If you experiencing diarrhea from cod liver oil supplements, you are probably taking too much. Talk to your doctor before starting a supplement.
To prevent constipation, consume a healthy diet adequate in fiber and fluids. If you have constipation, mineral oil is an effective laxative to try. Mineral oil may cause you to malabsorb essential fatty acids and the fat soluble vitamins E, D, A and K. Supplementing with cod liver oil can help replenish these important fats, especially if the supplement is fortified with fat-soluble vitamins. While cod liver oil is not usually recommended as a laxative, it may support good nutrition during laxative use. Talk to your doctor if you experience recurring constipation and find yourself depending on laxatives.