Many people have heard of cod liver oil and know how this contains Omega 3 fatty acids which have been show to be beneficial to cardiovascular health and in lowering inflammation. But what about shark liver oil?
As the name implies, shark liver oil (abbreviated to SLO) is oil derived from the liver of a shark. Unlike cod liver oil or any fish oil for that matter, SLO contains compounds called Alkylglycerols (abberviated to AKG’s). AKG’s are found in human breast milk, the bone marrow and liver and spleen and they are partially responsible for conferring immunity to a newborn from the mother. Of all the animals in the world, sharks have the highest amounts in their liver.
So what is the big deal about AKG’s?
Well, AKG’s are amazing at boosting various immune cells such as White Blood Cells, Red Blood Cells, and Neutrophils. This was discovered over 50 years ago in Sweden. A Swedish oncologist, Dr. Brohuit, was working with children with leukemia and giving radiation to these children which resulted in low blood counts. Because the bone marrow is the site of blood cell production, she rationalized that by giving these children marrow from a calf, the children blood counts would improve. She was right. Her husband, a biochemist, determined that it was the AKG’s that was responsible for the immune boosting effect. Later on, he discovered that the liver of the shark contains the highest amounts of AKG’s.
SLO standardized to contain 20% of Alkylgycerols is available in capsule form. The recommended dose of 600 mg per day may be of benefit to cancer patients undergoing radiation and/or chemotherapy. These patients often develop cytopenia (low blood counts) such as low platelets (thrombocytopenia) and neutropenia (low neutropils). If counts are too low, cancer patient’s treatments can be delayed.
WARNING: Patients who are considering using SLO, should let their physicians know and have the blood counts monitored as taking SLO for an extended period of time at high doses may cause a rapid elevation of platelets resulting in clots.