What is cod liver oil for?

The average person uses cod liver oil to improve general health. It’s a traditional remedy so ingrained in some cultures that people don’t question its use. There’s even cod liver oil dogs can take.

What is cod liver oil for?

In the past, people took cod liver oil to prevent rickets.

Today, people take cod liver oil such as Arctic Cod Liver Oil by Nordic Naturals to:

  • Improve immunity
  • Supplement vitamin A
  • Supplement omega 3 fatty acids
  • Nourish young children

What are the health benefits cod liver oil offers?

Cod liver oil has been trusted because it is effective on some levels for:

  • Autism: aids in calming people with autism and reducing episodes.
  • Malnutrition: with the high levels of omega 3 and vitamin A, those severely lacking in them will find relief from symptoms of deficiency.

Beware of cod liver oil side effects

Why should you think twice before taking cod liver oil?

Oil from the liver always carries with it the risk of contamination. In the case of fish, heavy metals from the sea that enter the body accumulate in the liver as it works to filter such pollutants from the fish’s blood.

In fact, scientists in Norway observed that pollutants extracted from cod liver oil altered the secretion of testosterone (a male hormone) and estradiol (a female hormone). They noted that such pollutants  are known to disrupt endocrine function, resulting in sexual problems in men. (Source)

As it’s oil, you are taking a higher concentration of calories than if you were eating the same weight in fish meat.

If you’re not lacking in vitamin A, be aware that because cod liver oil is derived from liver, it is very high in vitamin A. It is easy to overdose on nutrients from animal and synthetic sources. Vitamin overdose is unhealthy and there are side effects ranging from mild, uncomfortable, to fatal.

Is there a vegetarian alternative?

Cod liver oil is obviously not suitable for those on a vegan diet. Thankfully, science has continually advanced since the use of cod liver oil for health, leading to the discovery of vegetarian sources of omega 3 that are much better for everyone. Not just vegans!

However, not all plant sources of omega 3 are good. Find out which are the best here.

Would you still take cod liver oil?

Why or why not? Feel free to leave a comment!

6 Comments on "What is cod liver oil for?"

  1. Interesting product, recently I’ve been seeing lots of advertisement about omega 3 based on plants and not fish, but this is the first time I hear about this cod liver product, which seems to contain both the omega 3 oil and vitamins, it sounds promising and I might give this one a try! with today’s lifestyle, I can see everyone having some kind of “malnutrition’ing”, and this one could have a lot of benefits to our health in general, no matter what your health status is.


    1. Hi Elias! Well if you can overlook the safety issues of cod liver oil, I suppose it’s good enough for you. Or did you miss out the section where I talked about the possible health concerns of cod liver oil?

      At least make sure that the cod liver oil you’re getting has been tested for heavy metal contaminants. I’m not too eager even about those that label their product as the highest quality cod liver oil. You never know…


  2. You have surprised me about this important information about cod liver oil. In the past I have always taken it but didn’t know very much about about the difference between 6 and 3 and also didn’t know that we already have too much 6 and not enough 3 in our diets. I have heard of flax seed and chia seed so now I know that Flax is not so good, I will try the Chia seed. I have heard recently that they can be added to smoothies. I am hoping that it will help with the immune condition I have.
    Thanks for very good information. Very useful.


    1. Hi Andi! Yes chia seed is very versatile. Some people add them to plain water to form the gel around the seeds, then drink it all down. The gel is actually fiber, which aids the digestive system and keeps it healthy.

      My mother in law started using chia seeds in her breakfast oats two months ago and is already on her second pack! Her first was a 500-g pack from me. As for me, I like to grind the seeds before adding them to porridge or rice, as breaking them open will aid in better absorption of their omega 3.

      Be careful when buying chia seeds. Some brands have gritty stuff in them, you don’t want that.


  3. What an interesting page, as kids my parents always gave us cod liver oil, to kill the taste we always added a pinch of sugar; but we never questioned why we were asked to take it, all we were told was -“it is good for you”
    This is another example of the need for health education as a mandatory subject in schools I almost wanted to say please don’t tell me it’s like modern medicines , the side effects seem worse than the benefits, A very strong case for health education, now at 72 i have my answer to a childhood question.Thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi Courtney! Even today cod liver oil comes in a variety of flavors. The cod liver oil I drank in my childhood was quite tasty for my tastebuds but not my siblings’!

      One problem we face today is how backdated some health information available is. Health education spreading outdated information is not good either.

      Many people put their daily health in the hands of their GPs when they should take control of their health as much as possible. A lot can be done by ourselves to prevent disease. Doctors are there to diagnose and treat diseases while we need to look after and take charge of our own health. I hope this site helps people do that.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *