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Old 12-22-2008, 11:15 PM   #1
Donald Lee
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Default Why Cod Liver Oil May Be Bad For You

Important Cod Liver Oil Update:

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What You Need to Know About Vitamins A and D in Cod Liver Oil

At least 2,000 genes, or nearly 10% of your genes, have been identified that are directly influenced by vitamin D, which in turn impact a wide variety of health issues, from preventing the common cold and flu to inhibiting at least 16 different types of cancer. There’s even evidence linking vitamin D to the process of brain detoxification of heavy metals such as mercury.

Widespread vitamin D deficiency has also been strongly linked to the childhood epidemics of autism, asthma, and diabetes, both type 1 and 2.

Vitamin A, which is essential for your immune system just like vitamin D, is also a precursor to active hormones that regulate the expression of your genes, and they work in tandem.

For example, there is evidence that without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. But if you’re deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D cannot function properly either.

There are many problems with modern cod liver oil but one of the primary ones is that there is no standard definition of what constitutes cod liver oil. Manufacturers are free to add or subtract as much vitamin A or D as they see fit. In fact cod liver oil was discovered in the sewers of England several hundred years ago by starving children who drank it and scientists noticed they did not get rickets. Cod liver oil is in fact a highly processed food that was never consumed by humans prior to this.
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Dr. John Cannell, head of the Vitamin D Council, along with 15 other researchers, recently released an article “Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic" in the November issue of Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology. In this paper Dr. Cannell raised questions about the efficacy of cod liver oil due to its highly variable and frequently excessive amount of vitamin A. Typically modern cod liver oil contains far less vitamin D than it used to, due to the deodorization process used today which removes much of this essential nutrient.

Dr. Cannell and other prominent researchers believe the vitamin A contained in most cod liver oil is excessive, and can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin D by inhibiting the binding of its active form to your DNA, effectively preventing its ability to regulate the expression of your vitamin D-responsive genes.

The Weston Price Foundation, of which I am an advisory member, holds a contradictory view. They believe vitamin D can only effectively target genes when its “partner receptor” is activated by vitamin A. If vitamin A is absent, certain molecules called co-repressors bind to the receptors and prevent vitamin D from functioning. It is their position that cod liver oil is still a highly recommended supplement.

After reviewing the evidence, I am personally convinced that there is sufficient vitamin A in the current American diet to facilitate sufficient vitamin D activation. This does not appear to be the case in third world countries, where cod liver oil, or some other preformed retinol supplement, would still be useful.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:13 AM   #2
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The WAP is not going to take this well.
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:22 AM   #3
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Wap?
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Old 12-23-2008, 05:33 AM   #4
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Wap?
Weston A Price foundation
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Old 12-23-2008, 09:39 AM   #5
Will Moore
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I read this today also....this comes from one of those emails that Dr. Mercola blasts out. Don't accept it as the truth until all the facts are known; its just one study. Also, there are cod liver oil capsules on the market that have over a 2:1 ration of Vitamin D to Vitamin A. Personally, I use Carlsons cod liver oil capsules. One serving provides 100% of the RDA for Vitamin D and only 30% for Vitamin A. Therefore, what Mercola said cannot be applied to all cod liver oil. They are not all too heavy on Vitamin A and too weak on Vitamin D. Also, I tend to be skeptical about anything Mercola says, since his main goal seems to be selling you his Krill oil supplements.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:23 AM   #6
Garrett Smith
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This is all very interesting information.

From what I've found on the subject this morning, there really is very little evidence of Vitamin A deficiency in "developed" countries, while there is a good history of Vitamin A toxicity, both acute and chronic.

A paper on Hypervitaminosis A: Its Broadening Spectrum from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from back in *1958*....

A lot of interesting info on this post from the Vitamin D Council...

Quote:
The crux of the problem is that a form of vitamin A, retinoic acid, weakly activates the vitamin D response element on the gene and perhaps blocks vitamin D's more robust activation. In fact, the authors of a 1993 study state "there is a profound inhibition of vitamin D-activated...gene expression by retinoic acid."

The key is having the proper ratio of vitamin D to vitamin A in your body. To obtain this proper D/A ratio, you must make a choice. (1) Either obtain the D/A ratio Nature intended—that is, the ratio the human genome evolved on—or (2) assume one knows better and intervene in a closed system, bypass the controls in the intestine, and inject active A directly into your blood by taking vitamin A or cod liver oil. Vitamin A production is tightly controlled in the body, the source (substrate) being carotenoids from vegetables in your intestine. The body uses these carotenoid substrates to make exactly the right amount of retinol for your body. That is, it is a closed, tightly regulated, system, one designed to perfection by Nature. When you take vitamin A as retinol, such as in cod liver oil, you intervene in this closed system and bypass the controls. Proceed at your peril.

Vitamin D is also a closed, controlled system and I don't recommend intervening in that system either. Vitamin D cholecalciferol is a substrate like carotenoids, it is not the active substance. Taking vitamin A as retinol is like taking activated vitamin D (calcitriol). Doing so bypasses controls and I have never recommended anyone take activated vitamin D except patients with renal failure under the care of a nephrologist. As long as your vitamin D (cholecalciferol) dose is not excessive, you are not intervening in a closed system, you are simply providing the vitamin D substrate. The body, if and when it has enough vitamin D substrate, will use what it needs and dispose of, or store, the rest.

Thus the goal is to provide all the vitamin A and vitamin D substrate the body would have obtained in a natural state, so the body can regulate both systems naturally. This is best done by eating colorful vegetables and by exposing your naked skin to equatorial sun every day. Since most of us can't do the later, and won't do the former, we have to take the same amount of vitamin D substrate we would have obtained living 100,000 years ago—and may want to take beta-carotene substrate in a multivitamin. As far as I know, low doses of beta-carotene (1,000–2,000 IU per day) will not do too much harm. The best way to get vitamin D substrate, as far as I can tell, is to take about 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 per every 25 pounds of body weight in the winter and stop all vitamin D in the summer and sunbathe. Alternatively, use a tanning bed when the sun is too low on the horizon to sunbathe. Remember, when you are outside, if your shadow is longer than you are, you are not making any vitamin D.
...
When patients present to their doctor with abnormal liver function tests or overt liver disease—and many hundreds of thousands do every year—how many physicians inquire about vitamin A or cod liver oil supplements? The authors below found 41 cases and warned that "chronic vitamin A consumption might represent an appreciable cause of chronic liver disease." But if you think these 41 cases are the only ones reported, think again. A PubMed search reveals nearly 100 reports on vitamin A-induced liver disease.
...
I admired everyone I met at the Weston A. Price Foundation when I spoke there several years ago, mainly because of their commitment to healthy soil. However, when I brought up toxicity of cod liver oil, the atmosphere quickly turned from science to religion. Not only did I warn them about cod liver oil, the vitamin A researcher they flew in, Dr. Noel Solomon, also warned them about cod liver oil. No use. With every word either of us spoke, the flasks flashed as members of the audience took swigs of their cod liver oil.
And from a past newsletter of Dr. Cannell's:
Quote:
I am not convinced that because cod liver oil is "natural," it is therefore good. Tsunamis and strychnine are natural. In fact, cod liver oil is a processed food and Paleolithic man didn't drink it. There is evidence that at least one Paleolithic African women suffered severe vitamin A toxicity, probably from the liver she consumed. Chronic consumption of chicken liver caused vitamin A toxicity in twin girls.

A recent review of the literature found evidence that higher vitamin A levels are associated with bone problems. Women who consumed more than 15,000 units of vitamin A per day in food and supplements had a three and a half times higher risk for birth defects in their children than women who consumed less than 5,000 IU.

Vitamin A antagonizes the actions of vitamin D, probably at the receptor level, although that is not clear. The amount of vitamin A in one serving of liver antagonizes the rapid intestinal calcium response to physiological levels of vitamin D in man.

We just don't know if large amounts of vitamin A (more than 5,000 IU/day) causes problems when consumed with a large amount of vitamin D, as would be the case in people consuming large amounts of cod liver oil. A very well-written and entertaining rebuttal to my cod liver oil position, which I presented to the Weston A. Price Foundation, was recently published by that same foundation. However, Dr. Noel Solomon—a vitamin A researcher who spoke at the same conference—also cautioned against high vitamin A intakes.

In the end, my natural conservatism wins out. More is not better. What was the diet we evolved on? I know my Paleolithic ancestors didn't drink cod liver oil. Neither will I, unless my mother makes me, or until I have to choose between cod liver oil or nothing—and I don't.
I'm guessing if Dr. Mercola is choosing towards aligning with Dr. Cannell, then he won't likely be a board member of the WAP for much longer.

The point that the CLO today is not like the CLO of decades past is an extremely important one. This means that the CLO that Weston Price was using back then definitely is not the same as nowadays.

Interesting stuff from the Linus Pauling Institute on Vitamin A here.

I will be revising my Vitamin A recommendations based on this information, with the high end of retinol (preformed vitamin A, not carotenoids) being 5000iu per day for anyone.
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Old 12-23-2008, 10:38 AM   #7
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even the top supplement is not perfect.....guess food always trumps supplments. More sardines anyone?
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Old 12-23-2008, 12:11 PM   #8
sarena kopciel
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Originally Posted by Mike ODonnell View Post
even the top supplement is not perfect.....guess food always trumps supplments. More sardines anyone?
Thanks for the offer, had my sardines today for lunch. Along with some roasted organic broccoli, coconut milk ice cream and some homemade wheat free pumpkin and banana bread (almond meal based)!
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Garrett Smith View Post
The WAP is not going to take this well.
Confirmation bias is a bitch. Got to wake up every day, put on the thinking cap and DON'T TAKE IT OFF! Especially when someone gores your sacred cow... especially when someone says your workout's stupid... especially when someone says your super duper supplement or eating plan sucks!

Take a deep breath. Reach up to straighten your thinking cap (and be sure it's still on) and say something like, "Really? What EXACTLY doth sucketh about it?" and be prepared to listen closely to the answer... be prepared to admit that maybe, just MAYBE I'm NOT the smartest, most intuitive person on the planet. Maybe, this offensive person describing how I "sucketh" is telling me something I can use... maybe...

Maybe not. But I'll never know until I give them a fair listen!

WAP folks have come too far and ditched too much cultural conditioning to just trip and go down and fail to get up over something stupid like cod liver oil! Right? Guys? Gals? ... right? Hmmmmmmmm........ Do I hear the faint breathing of a Confirmation Bias in here? Or is it just the ventilation system? Hmmm...
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Old 12-24-2008, 04:49 AM   #10
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Not sure it is confirmation bias, but your last name is amazing Ben regardless.
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