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For the Animals, For the Earth, For Ourselves.
Cod liver oil substitute? 
22nd-May-2008 09:42 am
New bod here with a quick question - hullo!

I've been off red meat for six years and now want to go totally vegetarian.

The only hitch is that I have MS, and take the recommended 1000mg of cod liver oil daily for my rubbish brain. Is there any substitute for cod liver oil? I've checked various MS sites that have been no help, so was wondering if anyone had faced a similar situation.

Thanks in advance!

ETA Thank you to everyone for the helpful and supportive advice! Such friendly comms are a rare thing, so I'm glad I found this one. Thanks again!
22nd-May-2008 09:31 am (UTC)
i know there are tablets that have similar attributes but don't work on you the same...

i wouldntbe too hard on yourself...if the oil keeps you healthy and its prescribed and its needed I would carry on taking it...

you are doing your best and that is all anyone can ever ask.
22nd-May-2008 10:41 am (UTC)
Yeah, I agree with this. There are quite a few people in the veg*n communities on livejournal who have talked about having to take animal derived medications and many people have been supportive.

There are vegan sources of vitamin D and the omega fatty acids in cod liver oil, the latter in supplements made from algae. Vitamin A is present in dairy and eggs, but at much lower quantities than in cod liver oil. Beta carotene can be converted into vitamin A but it doesn't seem to work so well for everyone. And if you're a smoker, beta carotene raises your lung cancer risk.
22nd-May-2008 10:30 am (UTC)
my personal thoughts would be to make the switch to being fully veggie, but to put the cod liver oil into the "medicinal" category. a lot of drugs have animal products in them in some way or other, and as the poster above said, you're doing your best but equally you shouldn't mess with your health. so i'd be vegetarian in all other intent and purpose, but just keep taking the cod liver oil for the sake of your own health.
22nd-May-2008 11:00 am (UTC)
I take a medication that is derived from animals. Otherwise I only eat vegetarian food. I'm confused about what to label myself. Labels aren't worth being stressed about but they are useful.

And despite my advice in the other comment, I do see differences between cod liver oil and veg*n alternatives and risking your health with such a medical condition is not something I'd do.
22nd-May-2008 11:50 am (UTC)
If you can find a supportive doctor to discuss it with you could always try the alternative vegan supplements and sources (including the algae derived omega oils supplements) on top of your cod liver oil and see if it is possible to switch.

If not then I wouldn't sweat it, many of us have to take animal derived, or animal tested medication, the definition of veganism is to do whatever is practical and possible so it is not a contradiction in terms to be veg*n and take cod liver oils if you really need them :)
22nd-May-2008 01:44 pm (UTC)
I'm omni, granted, but if I were to go veg, I'd keep taking fish oil supplements. It's a health matter for you, so--while it's your call, of course--I don't think most people would judge you on continuing to take the cod liver oil.
22nd-May-2008 03:11 pm (UTC)
This is, of course, ultimately your decision, but here's my $.02:

Anything you do is better than nothing. Quitting red meat is great, quitting chicken/pork/seafood even better. But it's important to keep your health a top priority, and I agree with everyone who said to keep taking the cod liver oil. Anything that beats back your MS to any degree is worth taking.

Good luck to you!
22nd-May-2008 04:21 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with what everyone else has said, don't risk your health! keep taking the supplements! One thing I would say though, if you would like reduce you use of animal derived products, you could switch to Vegan cosmetics (like the stuff from Lush) and maybe switch your toothpaste for a vegetarian alternative.

Good luck!
22nd-May-2008 05:08 pm (UTC)
I agree with all the above posters. Your health is prioroty. Talk to your doctor and see if there are vegan alternatives. If there aren't, oh well. You being healthy is the key thing. If you want, off-set your suppliment by supporting a wild life refugge or by investing in MS research, with a focus on alternative medicine (I have a good friend that was just diagnosed with MS, and for graduation a bunch of us collected some money and donated it to MS research in her name).
Being the healthiest you you can be is what's important! And this community is here to be supportive. :)
22nd-May-2008 05:17 pm (UTC)
Do you know what it is in the Cod liver oil that you need?

If it's DHA (which is important for brain and nerve health), there are several vegetarian sources on this page, though they are expensive.

If it is vitamin D (of which low levels have been linked to MS, but I don't know if it can actually treat it) you could just take that in a pill. The D3 form is more easily absorbed, but unfortunately it comes from animal sources. D2 is a bit harder to absorb, but I think it can still be enough though you might have to take a little more.

Sometimes it is not any one or two things from a natural food source which can be taken instead to have the same effect but rather a combination about how everything in the food works which can't be fully understood or replicated. So you might be better off with the Cod liver oil, especially if you try other things and don't notice any improvement. I don't think you should feel too bad for taking things you have a great medical need for when so many people just eat fish thoughtlessly for no better reason than they like it.
22nd-May-2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
i've got one random link - http://www.pcrm.org/health/prevmed/multiple_sclerosis.html

my significant other (sorry, i'm way to old for the word boyfriend) has MS and is toying with vegetarianism. i don't know that he ingests codliver oil - how horrible that must be! - but we live separately and he keeps much of his medical information separate from me so as to not make me cry. but i'll ask him and get back to you...
22nd-May-2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
My mom has MS, diagnosed about 21 years ago, and is doing so freakishly wonderful that doctors do all sorts of special studies on her to figure out what makes her different from the 'typical' MS patient. She is an omnivore, and eats a pretty typical American diet, though a few more veggies than a lot of people. She also takes cod liver oil everyday, a vitamin D supplement, and cooks/bakes/uses exclusively sunflower seed oil.

Honestly, MS can be so hard to manage - I've watched several of my parents' friends deal with it as well (we're from the Buffalo, NY area, where there are a lot of MS folks) and use the injections and all sorts of medications and still suffer so badly that really, I would just try to do whatever it is doctors recommend doing before resorting to interferon. I know it sounds crappy, but if you're eliminating all other animal sources from your life, then there is no need to feel guilty about the one thing that is necessary.
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