Cod Liver Oil Benefits

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
November 20, 2018

You’ve probably heard plenty about fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids. Cod-liver oil benefits are similar, with an extra wallop of nutrients. Here’s what you should know.

Cod liver has been used as medicine since the late 1700s. In the 1930s, it got its reputation as an unpleasant medicine for children. The goal was to boost their vitamin D levels and prevent rickets.

Cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which lower blood pressure and inflammation throughout the body.

It has less omega-3s than other fish oils.

But because the oil is extracted from the liver (usually of Atlantic cod), it also is packed with vitamin A and D. Just one teaspoon will take care of nearly all of your daily vitamin A requirement, and you’ll exceed your daily requirement for vitamin D.


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Overall, cod liver oil benefits may include protection for your bones, eyes, heart, and gut, and a boost in mood.

Warning: Stick to no more than one tablespoon a day; any more could overload you with vitamin A. Also cod liver oil can thin your blood, and some people cannot enjoy cod liver oil benefits, so check with your doctor if you are also taking blood pressure or blood thinning medication and to avoid a potentially dangerous reaction.

The benefits of vitamin D

Once we enter our forties, we begin to lose bone mass, and the danger increases in women after menopause. Vitamin D can help by allowing your body to absorb calcium. You’ll need to eat plenty of calcium and vitamin D.

If you live in a northern climate you may need extra vitamin D from food because your skin may not get enough sunlight during the dark months. Our bodies synthesize vitamin D from light.

Also, people short of vitamin D can be more prone to chronic inflammation, a risk factor in obesity. The same is true of vitamin A.  

In fact, there is some evidence that cod liver oil benefits can ease pain from rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory condition.

In addition, higher levels of vitamin D are linked to fewer symptoms of depression.

The benefits of vitamin A

The two most common reasons people lose vision are both related to chronic inflammation. Cod liver oil benefits can protect you from glaucoma by providing vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. It can also help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids

These nutrients may reduce blood triglycerides, lower blood pressure, increase HDL “good” cholesterol, and prevent the development of plaques blocking the arteries.

They also help to lower inflammation, which in turn may boost your mood, though not dramatically.

A large study with nearly 22,000 participants in their forties and early seventies found that people who consumed cod liver oil regularly were less likely to be depressed. Both omega-3s and vitamin D may be at work.

Another cod liver oil benefit may be to heal ulcers, small breaks in the lining of the stomach or gut, though so far the evidence comes only from animal studies.  


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April 09, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O'Dell