Very few organisms that still roam the earth can claim to have their biological dateline stretching back to prehistoric times. Sharks are one of them. While their evolutionary hardiness likely comes from a whole host of different factors, there is one particular part of certain sharks’ biochemical makeup that seems to go a long way in ensuring their longevity. This substance has since been shown to have extensive disease-prevention capacities, along with being able to reduce the incidence and severity of lesser ailments as well.
We’re talking about squalene, a word I imagine you’ve never heard before and – truth be told – before this morning neither had I. You are likely familiar with is cod liver oil though, and the way it provides quality EPA and DHEA fats that are beneficial for your brain and cognitive development in children.
When it comes to liver oils though, the codfish really does take a backseat to the shark. No slight to the smaller denizen of the deep, but the squalene in shark liver oil has a much higher level of potency and potential for people who are suffering with poor health or life-threatening diseases.
There’s plenty of reasons why Bell Shark Liver Oil and similar products are increasingly popular these days, and I’ll discuss them further here and what makes squalene such a promising compound for maintaining health and enjoying longevity
1000M + Residents Only Need Apply
Let’s go back a rather long ways – roughly 3.5 billion years certainly qualifies as going back a long way – to the ‘Precambrian’ period where supposedly life began on earth. The microbes and membrane cells that precluded organisms were apparently full of squalene. Scientists indicate that the substance was of great importance to ensure their survival in a hostile and primarily anaerobic environment. And of all the organisms that followed, it was the deep sea shark (aka the frilled shark) that featured a liver that was disproportionately large for its body size and absolutely loaded with squalene.
Now of course the deep sea shark is long since extinct, but it does have some descendants still prowling the deep – Aizame sharks, Dog sharks, Nurse sharks, Sixgill sharks, Fog sharks, Gulper sharks, Thompson’s sharks, and Cat sharks. And each of these 8 species are the best sources of high quality shark liver oil these days.
The one characteristic they all share is that they live deep in the sea, at depths usually well in excess of 1000 metres underwater. All are classified as squalidae sharks (thus the name, ‘squalene’), and – like their ancestor – they have livers that make up roughly 25% of their body weight, and similarly plentiful with squalene. Shark liver oil can consist of between 60 to 85% squalene.
It’s interesting to note that squalene is naturally found in the human body too, but in very small quantities. What’s more noteworthy is that you have the highest concentration of it as a newborn, but by the time you’ve made it most of the way through your 30s it’s significantly depleted. One shouldn’t necessarily make a connection between these depleted levels of squalene and the proliferation of disease onset around these ages, but it may play a role in combination with other lifestyle / diet influences and genetic predispositions.
Olive & Palm Oil Options
Olive oil has squalene too, but in drastically lower concentrations that will typically be less than 1%. Palm oil has squalene too in slightly lesser concentrations than olive oil. However, premium olive oil after first compression can have much higher concentrations of squalene, up to 700mg per 100g. This may explain in part why the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ is lauded for its disease-preventative properties to the extent that it is. Consider that while people in North America will intake somewhere in the vicinity of 30mg of squalene from their diet every day, folks in Mediterranean countries often get up to 400mg per day from dietary sources.
Cancer and Other Disease Fighting Benefits
Squalene has long been used in Asia to combat disease and ailments. The locals on the Japanese peninsula of Izu have favoured it for centuries, calling it ‘samedawa’ which translates to ‘cure all.’ An ancient Chinese text called Honzumoko detailed the impressive effects of shark liver oil to the extent that many considered it to be a miracle cure for many debilitating human conditions and diseases.
In 1906 a Japanese chemist named Dr. Mitsumaro Tsujimoto who specialized in oils and fats published research about the secrets of shark liver oil. He discovered that a specific substance in the oil was responsible for the healing properties, and called it squalene because the people of Japan and neighboured islands extract the oil only from sharks livers of the Squalidae family mentioned above.
It was many years later that Dr. Carl Luer, an American biochemist, found that sharks rarely ever develop cancer. Even if they were exposed to high concentrations of carcinogen substances, their immune system would more often than not ward off the disease. He also discovered that the sharks’ wounds would heal two times faster than those of humans.
It is believed that this super immune response is generated via alkoxyglycerols, lipids in the squalene that stimulate the immune system and protect against malignant cell growth. And it would seem those alkoxyglycerols are particularly effective in that regard, and when evaluating it from the olive oil-source perspective it’s very indicative that:
- Greek women (who obviously consume PLENTY of olive oil in their diets) have 65% less incidence of breast cancer compared to women in North America
In addition to being a powerful disease fighter, squalene is also a powerful anti-oxidant, oxygen generator for enhanced recuperation (squalene has shown efficiency in improving the quantity and quality of the oxygen saturation in cells), and a fat regulator and energy modulator that promotes better vitality. This is particularly true for older individuals. Lastly, squalene is also believed to a digestive stimulant and so it may appeal to people with IBS or any type of digestive troubles.
To conclude, we always encourage our readers to be very exploratory when it comes to finding alternative natural health cures for whatever it is that’s ailing you. You may well already have cod liver oil in your cabinet, and if any of the purported benefits of shark liver oil sound appealing (including for prevention of cancer in individuals with a family history) then it’s worth trying it out and seeing if it helps.