In the past, there has been some concern expressed around the vitamin A content of Cod Liver Oil during pregnancy. This concern stems from the fact that almost all cod liver oil products on the market are supplemented with added vitamin A (natural or synthetic) because many so-called cod liver oil products are not actually made from cod! Many brands use fish body oil (from species such as pollock or haddock) as a less expensive source of oil, and then add vitamin A and D to mimic cod liver oil.

So Why Can They Do This?

This practice is allowed because the international production of cod liver oil is regulated by only one rule—the final product must merely match the specific EPA ratio (EPA to DHA) found in cod liver oil (not relevant to their vitamin content). Scary huh?!

 Tech Talk – What Is The Risk Of Vitamin A?

According to the Teratology Society:

“The risk of birth defects owing to synthetic vitamin A analogs has already been documented in humans, and recently the ingestion of excess vitamin A (25,000 IU (7500 mcg)* or more) as retinol/retinyl esters during pregnancy has been associated with some birth defects in a small number of case reports, although it is not known that the relationship is causal. It is with this caution that the following recommendations concerning the use of vitamin A supplements as retinol/retinyl esters during pregnancy are presented to all interested individuals”

“The National Research Council’s recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A during pregnancy is 1,000 (300 mcg) retinol equivalents (RE)/day, which is equivalent to 3,300 IU (990 mcg) as retinol (or 5,000 IU (1500 mcg) of vitamin A obtained from the typical American diet as a combination of retinol and carotenoids, e.g., beta-carotene).”

“The USRDA (recommended daily allowance) established by the FDA is 8,000 IU (2400 mcg)/day. Supplementation of 8,000 IU (2400 mcg) vitamin A (as retinol/retinyl esters) per day should be considered the recommended maximum prior to or during pregnancy until further evaluations can be performed in the human population.”

How Can I Trust A Cod Liver Oil Supplement?

Firstly look for transparency with the brand. If the certificate of analysis is readily available and you can be sure of where and how they source and store the cod (if it is coming from cod livers!) is a good start. Never hesitate to ask a company these simple questions to make sure you are getting the best product available.

In situations where a toxic concern HAS applied to vitamin A, (beyond the use of synthetic forms, out of balance with any pre-existing Vitamin D deficiency), the issue has related to the dose and chronicity of supplementation.  So it is always best to consult a professional health consultant to the dose that is right for you.

The Nordic Naturals Difference

Practices such as using anything other than actual arctic cod liver in their products are not applicable to the Nordic Naturals brand and never have been. Nordic Naturals have always used 100% wild Arctic cod in all their CLO formulas, which have consequently always had health-promoting levels of naturally occurring, fat-soluble vitamin A (retinol).

Nordic Naturals have never used fish body oils or any synthetic additives of any kind in their CLO, and therefore have never augmented the Vitamin A content or its ratio with Vitamin D (a crucial factor in determining toxicity).

So beyond the fact that Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oils contain a rare supply of naturally formed Vitamin A, in balance with Vitamin D, a full teaspoon serving only supplies 40 mcg RAE of vitamin A, which falls well below the standard range compared to other manufacturers’ that fortify their products to more than 1350 mcg of synthetic vitamin A per serving.

In Conclusion

Balance is always the key, with special care taken during pregnancy. You can have peace of mind that Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil, at standard doses, provides a very safe source of high quality essential fatty acids and natural vitamin A, that stands to benefit a healthy pregnancy considerably.

*Micrograms (mcg) represent the Retinol Activity Equivalent amount of Vitamin A.

By Alex Hills

GradCertEvidBasedCompMed, BHSci (Comp Med), AdvDipNat, AdvDipWHM

Alex has been a qualified naturopath and in the natural medicine field for over a decade. During this time has had the opportunity to experience almost every aspect of the industry. She has been in clinical practice, vitamins manager at a pharmacy, marketing coordinator for an organic skin care company as well as training other practitioner in an area manager role.

Alex now works full time at Research Nutrition’s Brisbane head office as the Sales and Marketing Coordinator to satisfy her inner tech-nerd and passion for educating both customers and patients in a fun and informative way!

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