In the 19th century, cod liver oil was considered somewhat of a miracle remedy. People in Northern Europe used it to treat ailments ranging from rickets (vitamin D deficiency), skin wounds, to muscle and joint pain.
Today, cod liver oil can be taken as a supplement. But despite its long history of serving medicinal purposes, research on its effectiveness as a supplement is sparse. This article covers the potential benefits of cod liver oil, if it’s worth trying, and the best cod liver oil supplements on the market.
Cod liver oil is extracted from the livers of Atlantic cod (yum). The oil is mostly sourced from Norway and Iceland, but you can find the supplement in virtually any health or grocery store.
Like any other fish oil supplement, people take cod liver oil because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. It also has high levels of vitamins A and D. In fact, just one serving of cod liver oil fulfills almost all of your required vitamin A and D intake.
There’s no specific dosage recommendation for cod liver oil. A typical serving size of cod liver oil is 1 teaspoon (5 ml) or 1,000 mg if taking a capsule-based supplement.
However, health experts recommend taking 250-500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day, including EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). So if you need to increase your fatty acid intake, a cod liver oil supplement can help.
Cod liver oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which can provide an array of health benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids might help reduce chronic inflammation, which has been linked to increased blood pressure, heart disease, and other chronic health conditions.
In addition, cod liver oil contains high amounts of vitamin A. Because of this, studies suggest that cod liver oil might fight against certain eye conditions. One study showed, for example, that vitamin A reduced the chances of developing glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that can lead to blindness.
And similarly to omega-3 fatty acids, studies show that vitamin A can reduce inflammation.
Cod liver oil also contains vitamin D, a building block of strong bones. Studies show that vitamin D can strengthen bones and prevent age-related bone loss.
Supplements containing vitamin D might especially benefit those who live far from the equator and can’t get their required amounts of vitamin D from sunlight.
In general, cod liver oil is good for those who want to get more omega-3 fatty acids or vitamins A and D into their diet. If you live in an area far from the equator, cod liver oil can help ensure you’re getting enough vitamin D. Below are the best cod liver oil supplements currently on the market.
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Carlson Lab Wild Norwegian Cod Liver Oil is a great capsule-based supplement. It contains 1,000 mg of cod liver oil and about 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each serving. Its oil extract is sustainably sourced from fresh Arctic cod off the Norwegian coast. Each bottle contains 125 servings if taking the recommended 2 capsules per day.
Garden of Life’s cod liver oil is a liquid-based supplement substantially sourced from Iceland. One serving or teaspoon contains 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in addition to vitamins A and D. It also has a nice lemon mint flavor. You can get about 47 servings if taking the recommended 1 teaspoon per day.
NOW Foods Cod Liver Oil is a capsule-based supplement at a great price point. It contains 1,000 mg of cod liver oil per capsule, 70 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and 100 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Each bottle contains 180 servings if taking the recommended 1 capsule per day. It is free of gluten, soy, and dairy.
21st Century Cod Liver Oil is another good capsule-based option. It contains 400 mg of cod liver, 20 mg of EPA, and 24 mg of DHA (so about 80 mg of total fatty acids). Each bottle contains 110 servings if taking the recommended 1 capsule per day. It is also free of preservatives, gluten, and artificial flavors and colors.
Arctic-D Cod Liver Oil is one of the most potent options on our list. It is sustainably sourced from Norway and just one serving contains over 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a nice natural lemon flavor. Each bottle provides 48 servings if taking the recommended 1 teaspoon per day.
Oslomega Norwegian Cod Liver Oil is a potent supplement sourced from Norway. It contains 4500 mg of cod liver oil and 960 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids. It also has a natural lemon flavor like the other liquid-based supplements on our list. Each bottle provides 40 servings if you take 1 teaspoon per day.
Cod liver oil is considered safe when taking the recommended doses. Mild side effects include an upset stomach, heartburn, and nausea.
In high doses, cod liver oil might be unsafe. It may prevent blood from clotting, which can lead to increased bleeding. High cod liver oil consumption may also lead to an excess of vitamins A and D in the body. This can cause nausea, vomiting, and weakness, among other symptoms.
Experiences vary from person to person. If you want a supplement that can help you get more omega-3 fatty acids or vitamins in your diet, cod liver oil might be a good option for you.