What is Shark Liver Oil: How Does it work, its Benefits, Uses, Side Effects

What Is Shark Liver Oil?

Shark liver oil is the oil extracted from the liver of the shark.

Shark liver oil is used along with the other cancer drugs to treat leukemia and other types of cancers, to prevent radiation illness from cancer X-ray therapy, to prevent the common cold, flu and swine flu, and to boost the immune system of the body(1)

The multiple health benefits that Shark liver oil serves are due to its high content of alkylglycerol (AKG), squalene, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA).(2)

The color of the Shark liver oil is dark yellow to brown and has a pungent aroma and taste. It can be found in capsule form. It is also used as an ingredient in skin creams and lip balms.

How Does Shark Liver Oil Work?

Shark liver oil contains chemicals that can fight against cancer cells.

It can also help boost the immune system.

Benefits and Uses Of Shark Liver Oil

There are a few compounds in shark liver oil that are known to be beneficial for health. These compounds are AKG, omega-3 PUFAs, and squalene.

Some of the benefits of shark liver oil are as follows:

Anticancer Properties

Shark liver oil is known for its cancer-fighting properties.

It can be due to the oil’s high content of AKG and squalene. It can also be due to an extremely low incidence of cancer in sharks.

AKG is a type of fat present in the blood-forming organs such as bone marrow, spleen, and liver. It is also found in abundance in milk and red blood cells.(1,3)

Animal studies show the anti-tumor potential of shark liver oil. It activates macrophages, types of white blood cells that digest defective cells including cancerous cells.

It also exerts an anti-angiogenesis effect that restricts the formation of new blood vessels that feed cancer cells that helps in stopping tumor growth and spread.(4)

Dogfish sharks are the richest sources of squalene. Squalene with its antioxidant capacity protects against chemically induced skin, colon, and lung cancer.(5) It is also believed to reduce inflammation that is caused by using anti-cancer drugs and chemotherapy treatment.(6)

Boosts Immune System

Shark liver oil has been used since ancient times due to its immune system boosting potential.

AKGs present in shark liver oil stimulates antibody production and enhance the function of Fc-receptors, proteins that contribute to a protective role in the immune system.(1,4)

A study done on older adults showed, 500 mg of AKG capsule helped in significantly increasing antibody levels, decreasing inflammation, and reducing the onset of complications.(7)

Squalene’s immunostimulating activity can also help stimulate antibody production and strengthening the immune system.(8)

Omega-3s found in shark liver oil are known to influence immune function with its anti-inflammatory effects.(9)

Improves Heart Health

Shark oil is also known to benefit heart health.

However, the role of squalene is contradictory.

One study shows squalene’s anti-atherosclerotic effect where it is found preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries that can put a person at the risk of high blood pressure and stroke(10,11)

Squalene is also known as a precursor to cholesterol production and accumulates in the liver and lower cholesterol and triglyceride synthesis.(11,12)

Another study done on rats found 0.45 gram of squalene showed an increase in HDL cholesterol levels.(10)

Squalene is also known to increase total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.(1,4,14)

Omega-3 fats present in shark liver oil is known to reduce the risk of heart disease.(13)

Other Benefits of Shark Liver Oil

There are benefits that the compounds present in shark liver oil serve.

Improve fertility: Studies show that AKGs in shark liver oil improve sperm mobility and speed.(1,4)

Boost skin health: Squalene provides hydration to the skin and protects it from ultraviolet radiation damage.(5,14)

Prevents radiation sickness: AKGs prevent the tissue damage caused by radiation therapy.(1)

Reduce mouth ulcers: Shark liver oil can reduce the recurrence of mouth ulcers with its beneficial effect on the immune system.

Side Effects Of Shark Liver Oil

There are some controversies related to squalene present in shark liver oil when consumed in high doses.(1,15)

An older human study suggests squalene derived from the oil can lead to pneumonia.(16,17,18)

Sharks are also prone to metal contamination specifically mercury contamination. It is found mostly contaminating in the muscle tissues and fin.(19)

Liver toxicity was also reported in a person consuming 2 capsules of shark liver oil daily for 2 weeks.(20)

Shark liver oil should be consumed in appropriate doses that depend on the user’s age, health, and other health conditions. It is important to consult a pharmacist, physician, or healthcare professional before using it.

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