|What is Cod Liver Oil|
|Is It Safe|
|Benefits for Children|
|How to Use|
|Tips to Make It Palatable|
Cod liver oil is a well-known health supplement. When it is given to young children as per the recommended doses, it does wonders to their overall development. If you are a parent with young children, it is important for you to know everything about cod liver oil for children – from its benefits to how it should be given.
But first, let us find out what cod liver oil is and whether it is safe to use cod liver oil for kids.
What is Cod Liver Oil?
Cod liver oil is an oil that comes from the liver of codfish, mostly from the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. Many years ago, people in Northern Europe used this oil to protect themselves during the chilly winters and to treat ailments like stiff joints and muscles.
Later on, at the beginning of the 20th century, medical researchers discovered that cod liver oil also helps in the prevention and cure of rickets in young children. That was when it became a common practice to use cod liver oil for kids too.
This oil is rich in vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids – EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The quantities of all these constituents depend on the species of codfish used for producing cod liver oil.
Vitamin A plays a big role in building immunity and promoting bone growth. Vitamin D helps prevent not only rickets but also type I diabetes and some types of cancers. It helps in strengthening muscle function and regulating calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, thereby ensuring healthy bones.
Omega-3 fatty acids improve immunity, absorption of vitamins and minerals, and promote skin health. Because of all these benefits, cod liver oil helps in preventing many problems in children; not just rickets, which the deficiency of vitamin D causes. Since prevention of diseases is always better than cure, giving cod liver oil to children makes a lot of sense. It helps in preventing frequent visits to doctors for various ailments.
Is It Safe to Use Cod Liver Oil for Children?
As a parent, you would be naturally quite concerned about giving a product like cod liver oil to your kids. Research is still going on regarding its ability to make kids healthier. You should give your kids cod liver oil supplements only after consulting with a paediatrician. Breastfed babies can benefit from cod liver oil supplements when their mothers take them. New moms should take these supplements only after consulting with their doctors.
Benefits of Cod Liver Oil for Children
We will now discuss in detail some of the best benefits of using cod liver oil for kids.
1. Helps Prevent Rickets
Rickets is a bone disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D. The bones become soft and when this happens in children, they develop skeletal deformities such as bowed legs, projected breastbone, and thick ankles and wrists. Sunlight is a good source of vitamin D.
In northern latitudes, however, the sun is not visible for long periods. That’s why rickets was a widespread disease among children over there until the discovery of cod liver oil. Once they began using cod liver oil for kids, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of cases of rickets among children.
In developing countries, rickets is, unfortunately, still a big problem. It is caused by food scarcity, leading to an unbalanced diet that lacks sufficient amounts of vitamin D. A good diet supplemented with cod liver oil can solve this problem.
2. Reduces the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes
As per the results of a recent study, when cod liver oil is given to children during the first year of life, the chances of their suffering from type 1 diabetes become less. The most likely reason for this, the study says, is the presence of a high amount of vitamin D in cod liver oil.
3. Helps Prevent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Upper respiratory tract infections are quite common in children, requiring frequent visits to the doctor and creating hassles for the parents. According to a research article published in the American College of Nutrition, cod liver oil supplements can decrease the incidence of cold and flu in children to a considerable extent. These supplements achieve this by boosting the immunity levels in the kids.
4. Helps Maintain Good Eyesight
Cod liver oil has a high content of vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamins A and D help in maintaining good vision in children. Vitamin A prevents glaucoma. Omega-3 fatty acids improve blood flow to the eyes, thereby keeping the kids’ eyes healthy.
5. Helps Improve Brain Function
The high amount of omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil plays a big role in boosting brain function in kids. They develop a good IQ and excel in every field when they grow up.
How to Use Cod Liver Oil for Kids
Now that we know about the benefits of cod liver oil, let us discuss how to use cod liver for children.
Getting kids to take it is not easy, as it does not have a pleasant taste. Many families in India are vegetarian and children from these families may not like the fishy taste. Paediatricians generally prescribe the following dosages of cod liver oil:
Infants (children up to the age of one): ¼ to ½ teaspoon cod liver oil regularly.
Older children: One to two teaspoons of cod liver oil regularly, depending on their age and vitamin D requirements.
Cod liver oil is available in the market both in the form of oil and capsules. You can buy it from your local pharmacy or order it online. Depending on what is convenient and suitable for your child, you can choose the form – oil or capsules.
Tips to Make Cod Liver Oil Palatable for Children
To make it easier for your kids to consume cod liver oil, here are some tips:
- Add some flavours, such as honey, ginger, cinnamon, mint, etc.
- Put it in some beverage or a smoothie that the child loves.
- Add it to salads.
- In the case of small babies, you can fill a syringe with the recommended dose of the oil and deposit it at the back of its mouth. The taste buds are fewer there and the chances of the baby screaming because of the bad aftertaste would be less.
- Mix the oil in some breast milk and give it to the baby.
Side-Effects of Cod Liver Oil
A word of caution now. For babies, always consult your paediatrician before giving cod liver oil. Also, overdosing on cod liver oil may have an adverse impact. Here are some side effects that you, as a parent, need to be aware of:
- It may cause gastric problems such as bloating, heartburn, and vomiting.
- It contains high amounts of vitamins A and D. Their excessive consumption may cause problems such as blurred vision, poor weight gain, pain in the bones, dryness of mouth, etc.
- It may cause excessive bleeding after an injury because of its blood-thinning properties.
- Poorly sourced cod liver oil can have high levels of mercury and other toxins. It is, therefore, best to opt for cod liver oil supplements and capsules from a reliable brand for best results and no fishy aftertaste.
Cod liver oil is a fantastic bundle of vital nutrients, such as vitamin A and D and omega-3 fatty acids. It offers loads of benefits for your kids, such as making their bones strong, boosting their immunity and IQ levels, and preventing infections and autoimmune disorders such as type 1 diabetes.
The benefits are so many that you just can’t ignore them. In today’s highly competitive world, you always want your kids to have the best of everything. Cod liver oil is, therefore, something that you cannot brush aside. Consult with the paediatrician and once you feel reassured, start giving it to your children.
Getting the kids to take cod liver oil in the form of either oil or capsule may be challenging. But we hope this article will help you through the process and was a useful read on cod liver oil. We look forward to reading your comments.