Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When Pregnant Women Should Avoid Cod Liver Oil (Omega 3s)

If you've been in the natural community on here, you've probably seen it before.


And then if you've been in the natural community for awhile, you've seen the bigger and better one.


I see people asking all the time: What is CLO? What does FCLO stand for? Why take it? Is it safe?

Cod Liver Oil and its better counterpart, Fermented Cod Liver Oil, are highly promoted (and rightly so) as nutrient dense products helpful for a variety of conditions and just overall healthy living. From heart disease to better sleep quality in children, this foul smelling, nasty tasting, traditional food is a champion.

But what about during pregnancy?

Many women fearfully ask about vitamin A levels during pregnancy. Or they worry about contamination (heavy metals, radiation, PCBEs etc). Those are valid concerns. But one I don't see people talking about is the way CLO influences clotting in the body.

Or rather, the way omega 3s influence clotting in the body. Part of the magic in that fishy oil is the fatty acid known as omega 3. Just a basic breakdown to get everyone on the same page:

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that we need. One form is plant-based (ALA) but some people cannot convert this form properly. DHA and EPA are animal-based, such as from that cod liver oil. But you will also find omega 3s in various other foods such as salmon and beef.

Now, for most people, including most pregnant people, omega 3s are great, they don't get enough of them in the typical American diet and CLO or other sources of omegas are a good idea during pregnancy.

But for some people, omega 3s present a concern. Studies tracking omega 3 levels found that after 2 weeks of intake, clotting factors were altered. In short, cod liver oil can thin the blood. This explains why the stuff is associated with heart health and this fact could be a big benefit for some people out there.

For pregnant women on blood thinners, who have reverse clotting disorders or who take medication for clot issues, who have PPH risk or a PPH history, who have blood-related complications or who need surgical intervention during pregnancy or birth, omega 3 might not be beneficial at all. In fact, it might be enough influence on the body to be a downright problem.

Interestingly, unlike other fatty acids, omega 3s are not stored as body fat. This means intake will be used rather quickly and expelled from the body quickly, in a matter of a few weeks. So a discerning pregnant woman could, for example, consume omega 3s during the earlier part of her pregnancy to provide nutrients for her baby but then reduce or eliminate omega 3s closer to birth (or timed with administration of medication or surgery) thereby getting the most benefit and reducing the most risk. But independent research and working with a knowledgeable health care provider is a must to ensure an individual decision is made based on personal risk factors and needs.

At any rate, I just felt I had to speak up about this topic to my natural friends and let them know that even though cod liver oil is super awesome...sometimes it's not.


"The mean bleeding times exhibited a marked increase (by 81%) with supplementation and returned to near basal (day 0) values within 14 days after the supplement was terminated. Cod-liver oil supplementation significantly reduced thrombin-induced platelet aggregation with a partial recovery being exhibited by day 28."

"The overall adhesion represented by the cumulative adhesion count and the rate of adhesion showed drastic reductions when fish oil was administered."

http://www.pharmacologyweekly.com/custom/article/100114/fish-oil-omega-3-fatty-acids-EPA-DHA-Lovaza-platelet-inhibition-bleeding-risk-mechanism This is a great paper, cited, that explains how omega 3s increase the risk of hemorrhage.

"Cod liver oil can also interact negatively with certain medications, particularly blood thinners such as warfarin and clopidogrel, brand names Coumadin and Plavix respectively"

By the way, yes, I do still think Green Pastures is the
only one worth spending money on if you're going to eat it.


  1. LOVE it! I've been asking quite a bit about this as no one as any clear answers (WAPF says it's gold and take a million tsp's a day but my MW and most others say it's bad). THX!

  2. We were told to rub this on my feet because I cannot tolerate ingesting fish oil. Is it true that it is absorbed nutritionally, you think?

  3. so glad to read this. I followed a WAPF diet and had a placental abruption near the end of my pregnancy. This may not be why, but I cannot believe no one ever told me this was a possibility!