Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body is unable to produce and use insulin properly. A key function of insulin is to help convert glucose to energy; thus, diabetics have higher than normal levels of glucose in the blood. In 2007, over 23 million Americans -- 7.8 percent of the U.S. population -- had diabetes. Conventional treatment includes oral medication and insulin.
Cod liver oil is a natural supplement that has been evaluated for benefits in managing diabetes. While studies have been positive, further research is needed to confirm the benefits of cod liver oil for this condition. If you have diabetes and are considering taking cod liver oil, talk to your doctor first.
Like fish oil, cod liver oil is an important source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. This supplement also contains vitamins A and D. Supplementation with cod liver oil during pregnancy protects the babies from developing Type 1 diabetes, suggests a research team, based on a study published in June 2000 issue of "Diabetologia." This population-based case control study was conducted in Norway, and authors that think omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D from cod liver oil have protective effects against developing Type 1 diabetes.
In a study involving animal subjects, the treatment of diabetes with cod liver oil helped to control glucose levels and also had anti-oxidant properties, according to a study published in December 2002 issue of "Cell Biochemistry and Function." The authors also found that subjects who took cod liver oil had healthier levels of cholesterol in the blood and better weight management. Since diabetes is often associated with high cholesterol and overweight, it appears cod liver oil may help with both fat metabolism and glucose control in diabetics.
Consuming more than 1 tsp of cod liver oil daily may cause bleeding, and may interfere with blood thinning medication or herbs. Cod liver oil may cause allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. Choose wisely the supplement that you will take, as some fish oils contain heavy metals and other toxic products, warns Mayo Clinic.
If you have diabetes and want to add cod liver oil to your diet, ask your doctor about dosage, possible side effects, drug interactions and other natural supplements that might help. Diet and exercise also help improve your blood sugar levels. Cod liver oil should not be used to replace standard drugs for diabetes.
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- American Diabetes Association: Diabetes, Statistics
- "Diabetologia"; Use of Cod Liver Oil During Pregnancy Associated with Lower Risk of Type I Diabetes in the Offspring ; LC.Stene et al; June 2000
- “Cell Biochemistry and Function”; Effects of Cod Liver oil on Tissue Antioxidant Pathways in Normal and Streptozotocin-Diabetic Rats; T. Hunkar et al; December 2002
- Mayo Clinic: Fish Oil, Safety