Cod liver oil is derived from the liver of codfish. It has been in use for centuries to prevent vitamin D deficiency (rickets). This pale-yellow fish oil is rich in vitamins A, D, and omega-3 fatty acids that help treat many health ailments. It helps improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, supports eye health, and reduces the risk of heart disease. In this article, we explore the potential health benefits of cod liver oil, its nutrition, and any potential risks. Keep reading to know more.
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Cod Liver Oil Nutrition Profile
Cod liver oil is a good source of vitamins A and D. 1 teaspoon (4.5 g) of cod liver oil contains:
- Calories: 40.6 kcal
- Fat: 4.5 g
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 888 mg
- Vitamin A: 4501 IU
- Vitamin D: 450 IU
Cod liver oil provides the daily requirement of vitamins A and D to your body. It also helps support your overall health. What are the potential health benefits of cod liver oil? Check them out in the following section.
Health Benefits Of Cod Liver Oil
1. May Help Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Cod liver oil contains vitamins A and D, which can help reduce inflammation. Research suggests that vitamin A deficiency may lead to inflammatory diseases. Vitamin D deficiency may also lead to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis (a chronic inflammatory disorder that can affect joints).
People with inflammatory bowel disease also have joint pains. As per studies, the vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. One pilot study conducted by the Institute for Phytopharmaceuticals, Berlin, on 43 patients with rheumatoid arthritis found that intake of 1 g of cod liver oil daily for three months may help reduce the symptoms.
Vitamin D levels also play a key role in bone development. It increases calcium absorption and promotes healthy bones. Adequate calcium intake reduces the risk of fractures and bone mineral loss in postmenopausal women.
2. May Support Eye Health
The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A in cod liver oil may help treat glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness. The omega fats could increase the blood flow to the eye and may prevent or treat glaucoma. As per studies, foods rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (omega fatty acids) reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Dietary intake of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, like omega fatty acids, was also found to lower the risk of age-related maculopathy (ARM) (an eye disease that causes incurable blindness).
3. May Reduce Risk Of Heart Disease
High consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and improves heart health. Research suggests that the unsaturated fats in cod liver oil may help reduce blood levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides. A study conducted by the University of Western Sydney found that fish oil can reduce triglyceride levels in people with hyperlipidemia (high levels of lipids in the blood). High blood pressure is also one of the risk factors for CHD. Cod liver oil was found to be effective against high blood pressure. Dietary supplementation of cod liver oil was also found to prevent blockage in arteries, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. May Improve Cognitive Performance
As per studies, daily intake of cod liver oil may help improve symptoms of anxiety and depression. The active agents in fish oils, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), could improve cognitive function in male Wistar rats. The vitamin D in cod liver oil may also play a role here. Some studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of depression symptoms. However, more studies are warranted to further understand this benefit of cod liver oil.
5. May Help Heal Ulcers
In one study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, cod liver oil could help heal gastric and duodenal ulcers in rats. Another rat study found that cod liver oil can reduce inflammation and ulcerations in the gut. However, more studies are needed to understand this benefit of cod liver oil in humans.
6. May Help Treat Diabetes
In a study conducted on 550 gestational diabetics (diagnosis of diabetes during pregnancy), the use of cod liver oil could reduce the levels of blood glucose and lipids. Cod liver oil consumption during pregnancy was also found to decrease the risk of diabetes type-1 in newborns. However, very little data is available on this effect of cod liver oil in humans.
7. May Promote Wound Healing
Cod liver oil could be effective in repairing wounds. In one study, topical application of cod liver oil could accelerate wound healing in the ears of hairless mice.
These are the health benefits of cod liver oil. However, consuming the oil in the recommended dosage is key. We have discussed more in the next section.
Cod Liver Oil Supplements And Dosage
This fish oil supplement is primarily available in liquid or capsule form. There is no standard recommended dosage for cod liver oil intake. A dose of 1 to 2 teaspoons of the oil is generally regarded as safe for consumption. Excess vitamin A intake may lead to rashes and headaches. As most cod liver oil supplements also contain vitamin A, intake in higher doses is not recommended. Consult your doctor or health care provider for information on the dosage of cod liver oil.
You must consider a few factors if you are keen on purchasing cod liver oil supplements. Read on to know in detail.
What To Look For While Buying Cod Liver Oil Supplements?
- Look for cod liver oil supplements in capsule or liquid forms. Avoid use if you find the capsules broken.
- Check for product labels for safety precautions and directions for use.
- Cod liver does not taste like oil. If you want to try cod liver itself, some brands sell it canned.
- Look for a recognized certification by organizations like NSF International or certification marks on the product labels. Go for cod liver oil from a reputed brand.
Cod liver oil is generally considered safe. But should you be wary of any risks?
Potential Risks Of Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is generally considered healthy and safe for most people. But it may cause some serious side effects due to the presence of certain environmental toxins like dioxins, mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls. People using blood-thinning medications like warfarin should avoid using cod liver oil as it may act as a blood thinner, and high doses may prevent blood clotting. Also, pregnant women should consult their doctor before using cod liver oil.
Cod liver oil is a highly nutritious dietary supplement derived from the liver of codfish. Its vitamins A and D, and omega-3 fats help treat many health ailments. They help improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and help manage diabetes as well. However, excess intake of cod liver oil may cause some side effects. While the ideal dosage is unclear, consult your doctor before using cod liver oil for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between cod liver oil and other types of fish oil?
Cod liver oil is extracted from the liver of codfish, whereas other fish oils are extracted from their body flesh. Both types of oils contain vitamins and omega-fats, though in different ratios. Regular fish oil supplements are more easily available when compared with cod liver oil.
Is fermented cod liver oil better than the non-fermented variant?
Fermented cod liver oil is a rich source of omega fats and other nutrients like vitamins A and D. But it can break down the fatty acid molecules when exposed to oxygen during the fermentation process – leading to rancidity. Hence, fresh, non-fermented cod liver oil is safer than the fermented variant.
Should we take cod liver oil capsules in the morning or the night?
You can take cod liver oil capsules any time of the day.
Can cod liver oil make you gain weight?
Excess consumption of cod liver oil may make you gain weight due to the presence of fat. However, research is unclear in this regard.
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- Effects of high-dose fish oil on rheumatoid arthritis after stopping nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs. Clinical and immune correlates
- Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis
- Effect of cod liver oil on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- The role of dietary calcium in bone health
- Vitamin D and bone health
- The role of dietary calcium in bone health
- Cod liver oil: a potential protective supplement for human glaucoma
- Dietary Intakes of Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration
- Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and the risk for age-related maculopathy: the Alienor Study
- Fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake and risk of coronary heart disease in women
- The effects of the intake of cod liver oil on the blood lipid level
the lipoprotein profile and bleeding time
- Benefits of fish oil supplementation in hyperlipidemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- The use of dietary supplements and their association with blood pressure in a large Midwestern cohort
- Dietary cod-liver oil improves endothelium-dependent responses in hypercholesterolemic and atherosclerotic porcine coronary arteries
- Associations between cod liver oil use and symptoms of depression: the Hordaland Health Study
- Long-term administration of cod liver oil ameliorates cognitive impairment induced by chronic stress in rats
- Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis
- Antiulcer activity of cod liver oil in rats
- Cod-Liver Oil Improves Metabolic Indices and hs-CRP Levels in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Patients: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial
- Use of cod liver oil during pregnancy associated with lower risk of Type I diabetes in the offspring
- TOPICAL APPLICATION OF COD LIVER OIL OINTMENT ACCELERATES WOUND HEALING: AN EXPERIMENTAL STUDY IN WOUNDS IN THE EARS OF HAIRLESS MICE
- Safety considerations with omega-3 fatty acid therapy
- Mother Was Right About Cod Liver Oil
- Dietary fish oil reduces progression of chronic inflammatory lesions in a rat model of granulomatous colitis