About the Best Thing to Happen to My Skin, Ever
First let’s talk about what this post is not about. It’s not about cleansers, creams, peels, serums, exfoliants, or masks. It’s not about the latest and greatest cleansing device or a spa treatment more costly than a car payment. It is about acne, clear skin, and a complexion that looks like a genetic jackpot. I’m talking about cod liver oil.
You may be nonplused. So was I when I first learned about cod liver oil. After all, I tried the diet change before with underwhelming success. I also remember when I swallowed fish oil everyday for two months, the “burb-less” variety. Each pill tasted like punishment and regret. I should tell you, cod liver oil is nothing like its fish oil relative.
I chose Carlson’s liquid cod liver oil, which is flavored with lemon. The oil doesn’t taste remotely like fish—more like canola oil with a splash of citrus—so not terrible, but certainly not good enough to serve with crostini and cheese. Anyway, we’re getting to the exciting part because I noticed results in a matter of days. DAYS. I was not expecting that at all. On the Internet I read that people noticed results in a few weeks, some in a month, but as God is my witness my face snapped together faster than the Sharks and Jets.
I had a few blemishes—those vanished the first week, and none arrived in their place. My skin became smooth, it glowed; it sprang to life. For the past month, cod liver oil has been my skin savior, but let’s dig into the why.
Cod liver oil is high in vitamin A and D. It’s the active form of vitamin A that’s important (not to be confused with beta carotene, which is a form of vitamin A found in plants). Topically, vitamin A is used to treat wrinkles and acne under brand names like Renova and Retin-A Micro. Accutane, an oral prescription with seriously scary side effects, is also a derivative of the vitamin. Using nearly the same mechanism as its prescription counterparts, cod liver oil clears skin almost as well.
I found effectiveness within Carlson’s version, but others swear by Green Pasture’s Fermented Cod Liver Oil. The story is that the fermented process delivers a better grade of vitamin A and a superior balance between vitamin A and D. Maybe that’s true, but it also costs much more than Carlson’s.
Cod liver oil does come with its share of warnings. For one, pregnant women should consult with their doctor before taking the supplement—high levels of vitamin A is very harmful to unborn children. Even in healthy individuals, vitamin A overdose is a present danger. Don’t take more than the daily recommended value (see here) so act accordingly (and don’t be stupid).