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Facts and Uses of Shark Liver Oil

This article was written as a response to the question: what is shark liver oil?
Shark liver oil, derived from deep- and cold-water sharks, mainly dogfish, is used as a folk remedy for the immune system. The unique compound it contains, squalane, is also used as a cosmetic base. The oil is also high in vitamins, trace minerals and fatty acids, and is popular for many uses as a dietary supplement in the US, as well as being prescribed in northern Europe. Shark liver oil is potent to keep the animal from freezing, as in the case of cod and salmon, which are also popular for their liver oil

Squalene, a chemical found in certain sharks' livers, has been used for centuries by people with access to cold- and deep-water-dwelling sharks as a folk medicine. Students of taxonomy will notice the latin squal- prefix, which tends to refer to sharks. The oil contains alkylglycerols, which are also found in bone marrow and mammalian milk, and which are known for benefits to the immune system and for superficial healing, as well as for helping to maintain physical hardiness and wellbeing. There is also a lot of vitamins A and D and the omega-3 fatty acids that also make salmon oil popular. The oil that does the trick must come from sharks that live in deep, cold water, because the oil in their livers must be powerful in order to keep them from freezing (the same principle applies to harvesting salmon or cod for their medicinal oils).

Japan, China and Norway, countries known for both fish wisdom and for relatively liberal fishing laws, are some of the biggest producers of shark liver oil. Sources claim that the sharks are not poached just for their large livers, but caught as "by-catch" in commercial fishing operations, their livers and other materials harvested so not to waste them. Many larger sharks are not only too dangerous to keep onboard, but protected as threatened species. Shark liver oil is sold as a "life extender" and remedy for everything from cuts and bruises to inflammation to immunity to cancer treatment. Though not prescribed in the US (only sold as as a supplement), it is widely used in northern Europe.

The sharks that tend to be harvested for their oils belong to the dogfish family of meter-long, relatively docile and numerous sharks. Squalus acanthias, the common spiny dogfish, is currently set at "vulnerable" (presumably due to being fished often) on the endangered species range, which is the uppermost step before "not threatened." They probably don't get bigger because of their hostile home environments in deep, cold water (beneath 200m), where the food chain is relatively shorter. Consider that white sharks, which grow to over six meters, live in much larger, warmer waters and can eat almost anything, including dogfish and other smaller sharks.

Squalane, the processed version of the unique shark liver compound squalene, is also used as a cosmetic base. Currently squalene is not commonly prescribed by US physicians. Sources also say that the compound is used as an anti-inflammatory medicine in hemmorhoid treatments.

Sources:

http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/PharmacologicalandBiologicalTreatment/shark-liver-oil

http://www.sharkliveroil.com/

http://www.shark-liver-oil.net/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_liver_oil

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