Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What Should We Know about Cod Liver Oil?

The following is a health message from Karen Robinson. You can visit her Guide For Self Healing Website. The link is below.

Many people have asked me recently what I think of Dr. Mercola's recent caution against cod liver oil (CLO). CLO is one of the most important supplements, containing essential nutrients for the immune system, and is one of the few "one-size-fits-all" that almost everyone can benefit from.

Especially in the winter months, most of us are deficient in vitamin D, and we need the form that nature provides in CLO. Naturally many people were confused about this sudden change of view, since Dr. Mercola is so well respected in the natural health field.

So I thought I'd give you my thoughts on this issue and point out some of the fallacies I see in the kind of analysis that Dr. Mercola is relying on here. It's an important case in point. This is not to detract from Dr. Mercola's very useful information but to illustrate the problem with following "what the authorities say."

Most of us who keep our eye on the natural health field are familiar with Dr. Mercola and his informative website and newsletters. I would point out that his approach although it's "alternative" in a sense is still grounded in allopathic medicine, and I also think that his promotion of supplements is potentially a conflict of interest.

Dr. Mercola started selling the tanning machines that promote vitamin D production in the body, at the same time that he began cautioning against the use of CLO, which is an important source of natural vitamin D. The reason he gives for his caution against CLO is the high ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D that some of the CLO products have. There have been studies showing that vitamin A can be toxic at high levels. He also talks about some CLO manufacturers adding synthetic vitamins to their CLO.

I see several flaws in this argument.

One is that there are CLO products that don't have the high vitamin A/D ratio that he's talking about, and that don't add any extra synthetic vitamin A. There's no reason to blame all CLO prodcucts for the problem with only some of the products.

The studies showing vitamin A toxicity were done withsynthetic vitamin A, and common sense tells us that the body is going to complain about that at high levels! But he's jumping on the allopathic bandwagon there with the idea that vitamin A is problematic. Vitamin A supplements may also compete with sales of cardiac drugs, so in the world of Big Pharma-driven medicine, that may be part of the bias against it.

We know that native people ate very high amounts of these fat-soluble vitamins in natural form, for ages, and Dr. Mercola doesn't address this contradiction to his argument.

In place of the vitamin D from CLO, Dr. Mercola recommends his tanning bed, and in place of the omega-3 fatty acids in CLO he recommends his proprietary krill oil. The question that remains to be answered is, is his particular krill oil, or krill oil as compared with other fish oils, actually so much more effective? Is there real grounded evidence behind the claims?

I use and recommend high-vitamin CLO (Green Pastures brand) and then because it's low in omega-3 oils, additional fish oil can be taken.

Recently Dr. Mercola's site seems to be throwing so much information at his readers in a way that focuses on quantity of information rather than deeper understanding. These recommendations such as with CLO are usually based on meta-analyses of data, which are not reliable.

Pharma has coopted so much of the natural medicine field in ways that most practitioners aren't even aware of. Most natural medicine practitioners are still using a basically allopathic model and promoting less toxic methods on top of that, instead of shifting their paradigm entirely.

So as it is with everything, we have to use our own critical thinking and not trust any authority figure blindly. Usually when some new recommendation is based on a new "study," it's pretty easy to find the fallacies on closer look at the study itself. Even at first glance, when Dr. Mercola talked about the high levels of vitamin A, I checked my bottle of CLO, and it just didn't add up.

My recommendation: Keep reading Dr. Mercola's newsletter and website! He's uncovering and distilling a lot of valuable information.

The lesson is that the truth doesn't come from "authority figures" anymore. We can't shift our allegiance from the allopaths over to the naturopaths. We have to let go of blind allegiance, develop our own discernment and think for ourselves.

When any health authority, natural or otherwise, refers to a "study," we need to look critically at that study and see if the analysis is sound. It takes practice, but that's the price in this new world where independent thinking is the ticket!

All my best,
Guide for Self-Healing
Personalized consulting services, free articles and resources Guide for Self-Healing, PO Box 400, Penfield NY 14526, USA

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