Open Access Articles- Top Results for Cod liver oil

Cod liver oil

This article is about the fish oil. For the traditional Newfoundland song, see Cod Liver Oil (song).
File:Cod Liver Oil Capsules.jpg
Cod liver oil in gelatin capsules

Cod liver oil is a nutritional supplement derived from liver of cod fish. As with most fish oils, it has high levels of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Cod liver oil also contains vitamin A and vitamin D. It has historically been taken because of its vitamin A and vitamin D content. It was once commonly given to children, because vitamin D has been shown to prevent rickets and other symptoms of vitamin D deficiency.[1]


Cod liver oil was traditionally manufactured by filling a wooden barrel with fresh cod livers and seawater and allowing the mixture to ferment for up to a year before removing the oil.[2] Modern cod liver oil is made by cooking the whole cod body tissues of fatty fish during the manufacture of fish meal.

Therapeutic uses

Cod liver oil may have a positive effect on the heart.[3]

Cod liver oil and fish oil are similar, but cod liver oil has higher levels of vitamins A and D. According to the USDA, a tablespoon (4 drams or 15 ml) of cod liver oil (13.6 g) contains 4080 μg of retinol (vitamin A) and 34 μg of vitamin D.[4] The Recommended Dietary Allowance of vitamin A is 900 μg per day for adult men and 700 for women, while that for vitamin D is 15 μg per day. The "tolerable upper intake levels" are 1000 000 μg/day and 100 μg/day respectively, so people consuming cod liver oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids should pay attention to how much vitamin A and vitamin D this adds to their diet.[5][6] A 300 mg soft gelatin capsule like those made by brands like Seven Seas and seacod by sanofi contain approximately 88 μg vitamin A per dose.

Adverse effects

Per tablespoon (13.6 g), cod liver oil contains 136% of the established daily Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for Preformed Vitamin A (Retinol).[7][8] Vitamin A accumulates in the liver, and can reach harmful levels sufficient to cause hypervitaminosis A.[5] Pregnant women may want to consider consulting a doctor when taking cod liver oil because of the high amount of natural forms of vitamin A such as retinol. High doses of synthetic vitamin A (retinoids) have been shown to cause birth defects.[9] A toxic dose of retinol (vitamin A) is around 25 000 IU/kg (see Retinol#Retinoid overdose (toxicity)), or the equivalent of about 1.25 kg of cod liver oil for a 50 kg person.

There is an increased risk of prostate cancer in men who had a higher blood level of omega-3 fatty acids, however this specific study did not assess whether or not a person was taking supplements or what their dietary intake of omega-3s were.[10]

The risks of hypervitaminosis and of exposure to environmental toxins such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and other contaminants, are reduced when purification processes are applied to produce refined fish-oil products, which consequently contain raised levels of omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA.[11]

A high intake of cod liver oil by pregnant women is associated with a nearly fivefold increased risk of gestational hypertension.[12]

Other uses

In Newfoundland, cod liver oil was sometimes used as the liquid base for traditional red ochre paint, the coating of choice for use on outbuildings and work buildings associated with the cod fishery.

In Tübingen, Germany, drinking a glass of cod liver oil is used as the punishment for the loser at the traditional Stocherkahnrennen, a punting boat race by University groups.

See also


  1. ^ Rajakumar, K. "Vitamin D, Cod-Liver Oil, Sunlight, and Rickets: A Historical Perspective. 2003". Pediatrics 112 (2): 132–135. 
  2. ^ David Wetzel (28 February 2006). "Cod Liver Oil Manufacturing". The Weston A. Price Foundation. 
  3. ^ von Schacky, C. (2000). "n-3 Fatty acids and the prevention of coronary atherosclerosis". Am J Clin Nutr 71 ((1 Suppl)): 224S–7S. PMID 10617975. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Paul Lips (8 May 2003). "Hypervitaminosis A and fractures". N Engl J Med 348 (4): 1927–1928. PMID 12540650. doi:10.1056/NEJMe020167. Retrieved 6 March 2008. 
  6. ^ Haddad J.G. (30 April 1992). "Vitamin D — Solar Rays, the Milky Way, or Both?". The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  7. ^ National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference "USDA Nutrition Facts: Fish oil, cod liver" USDA
  8. ^ Jane Higdon, Ph.D. of the Linus Pauling Institute "Linus Pauling Institute Micronutirent Center" Oregon State University
  9. ^ Myhre AM, Carlsen MH, Bøhn SK, Wold HL, Laake P, Blomhoff R (December 2003). "Water-miscible, emulsified, and solid forms of retinol supplements are more toxic than oil-based preparations". Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 78 (6): 1152–9. PMID 14668278. 
  10. ^ Theodore M. Brasky, Amy K. Darke, Xiaoling Song, Catherine M. Tangen, Phyllis J. Goodman, Ian M. Thompson, Frank L. Meyskens Jr, Gary E. Goodman, Lori M. Minasian, Howard L. Parnes, Eric A. Klein and Alan R. Kristal (2013). "Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the SELECT Trial". J Natl Cancer Inst 105 (15): 1132–1141. PMC 3735464. PMID 23843441. doi:10.1093/jnci/djt174. 
  11. ^ Bays H E (19 March 2007). "Safety Considerations with Omega-3 Fatty Acid Therapy". The American Journal of Cardiology. 99. (Supplement 1) (6): S35–S43. PMID 17368277. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2006.11.020. 
  12. ^ Olafsdottir AS, Skuladottir GV, Thorsdottir I, Hauksson A, Thorgeirsdottir H, Steingrimsdottir L (March 2006). "Relationship between high consumption of marine fatty acids in early pregnancy and hypertensive disorders in pregnancy". BJOG 113 (3): 301–9. PMID 16487202. doi:10.1111/j.1471-0528.2006.00826.x. 

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