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Cod Liver Oil: Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

Cod liver oil is the best source of vitamins and fatty acids. Cod liver oil is obtained from the fish where the liver is used to extract the liver oil. Hippocrites and Pliny mentioned the use of fish oils for medicine preparation. In England for the first time, doctors used cod liver oil as medicine and the liver of cod fish is considered a delicacy in several parts of the world. Fresh oil from cod liver fish is often used as butter and Gadus morhua is the scientific name for cod fish. The presence of vitamins and essential acids in cod liver oil may be helpful for humans in various ways.1 Let us look at some of the cod liver oil benefits. 

cod liver oil benefits

Did you know?

  • The omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil have been found to have potential anti-cancer effects. Source: usda
  • High doses of cod liver oil can increase the chance of bleeding and may affect blood clotting. Source: medlineplus
  • Cod liver oil can cause nausea when taken orally. Source: medlineplus
  • Regular consumption of cod liver oil may help lower the risk of heart disease. Source: usda
  • Cod liver oil has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for joint pain and arthritis. Source: usda

Nutritional Value of Cod Liver Oil: 

Cod liver oil is rich in vitamins and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. The nutritional value of cod liver oil is: 

Nutritional component Value 
Energy 902 kcal 
Fats 100 g 
Vitamin A 30000 µg 
Vitamin D 250 µg 
Fatty acids 22.6 g 
Cholesterol 570 mg 
Retinol 30000 µg 

Table 1: Nutritional value of cod liver oil2 

Also Read: Spinach Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

Properties of Cod Liver Oil: 

Cod liver oil may have the following properties: 

  •  It may lower the total cholesterol levels3 
  • It may protect from gastric ulcers4 
  • It may reduce the risk of heart disease5 
  • It may possess wound healing properties6 
  • It may reduce skin dryness7 
  • It may have antiviral property8 
  • It may reduce swelling9 
  • It may relieve pain9 

Based on my experience, I highly recommend incorporating cod liver oil supplements into your diet. It is known to be rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin D, hence potentially promoting new blood cell formation and bone growth. This makes it a healthy choice to support overall well-being.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Potential Uses of Cod Liver Oil for Overall Health: 

The potential cod liver oil uses are as follows: 

1. Potential use of cod liver oil for reducing cholesterol 

Regular intake of omega-3ftty acids may reduce the formation of bad cholesterol in the human body. Cod liver oil is a rich source of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. The presence of these compounds may help in reducing cholesterol in humans. However, large-scale studies are required to evaluate the effect of cod liver oil on lowering cholesterol levels.3 You must check your cholesterol levels regularly and consult your doctor in case of high cholesterol levels. 

2. Potential use of cod liver oil for gastric ulcers 

The presence of vitamins and essential fatty acids may help in antioxidant activity which may lead to eliminating the free radicals. Cod liver oil may protect against gastric ulcers which may reduce acid secretion and protect the inner lining of the stomach.4 However, further studies are required to evaluate the anti-ulcer activity of cod liver oil. You must consult your doctor if you develop ulcers instead of self-medication. 

3. Potential use of cod liver oil for heart diseases 

Cod liver oil may be used in case of myocardial infarction, which is heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids present in cod liver oil may reduce the incidence of myocardial infarction. Further large-scale studies are required to check the effect of cod liver oil on heart diseases.5 However, if you experience any symptoms of heart disease, you must immediately contact your doctor. 

4. Potential use of cod liver oil for wound healing 

The topical application of cod liver oil may be used to heal wounds. Studies on mice showed that the vitamin A present in cod liver oil may increase the rate of epithelialisation (formation of skin cells on the wound) and increase the rate of neovascularisation (formation of blood vessels from the existing ones).6 Further studies on humans are required to evaluate the process of wound healing by cod liver oil. If the wound is severe, you must consult your doctor immediately before trying to self-medicate. 

5. Potential use of cod liver oil for skin 

Cod liver oil may contain polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acids, which may keep the skin hydrated and reduce the dryness of the skin. The fatty acids may benefit the skin glow and may also suppress itching.7 Further, studies on humans are required to check the effect of cod liver oil on human skin. If you have any skin-related issues, you must consult your doctor before using cod liver oil supplementation for the skin. 

Also Read: Oregano: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

6. Potential use of cod liver oil for covid-19 

Cod liver oil may be used against the coronavirus. Vitamin D in cod liver oil may protect against respiratory infections and reduce the risk of asthma exacerbations. Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid present in cod liver oil may improve immune function.8 However, further studies are required to check the effect of cod liver oil on covid-19 patients. If you experience severe symptoms of covid-19, you must consult your doctor. 

7. Potential use of cod liver oil for rickets 

Rickets is a disease that predominantly occurs in children and leads to the development of weak bones. Vitamin D deficiency may cause rickets and the Vitamin D in cod liver oil may help in the case of rickets to overcome.10 However, further studies on humans are required. You must consult your doctor if your child is experiencing any symptoms of rickets. 

8. Potential use of cod liver oil for rheumatoid arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis is associated with swelling and pain in joints. Studies showed that regular intake of cod liver oil might reduce morning stiffness and joint pain.11 However, if you experience a lot of pain, you must consult your doctor.  

Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D that may help relieve inflammation and boost immunity. I read an article suggesting regular intake of cod liver oil supplements may aid bronchitis and help alleviate the inflammation of the lungs passage and symptoms such as coughing and wheezing.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Though studies show the benefits of cod liver oil in various conditions, these are insufficient, and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the herb’s benefits on human health. 

Also Read: Tomato Juice: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode

How to use Cod Liver Oil? 

Cod liver oil can be consumed in the following way: 

  • First, you can take cod liver oil supplements as your doctor prescribes. 
  • You can consume a cod live oil capsule with a fixed dose. 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking Cod liver oil. Likewise, do not discontinue or replace an ongoing modern medical treatment with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor. 

Side Effects of Cod Liver Oil: 

Cod liver side effects are given below: 

  • May cause heartburn 
  • May cause stomach upset 
  • May cause bleeding 
  • May cause nausea9 

I just read research suggesting a combination of cod liver oil with virgin coconut oil may be a fantastic weapon to enhance endurance in athletes. This union comes with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, making it a potential natural immune and performance booster for athletes.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

Precautions to Take with Cod Liver Oil: 

The following precautions shall be taken with cod liver oil: 

  • Pregnant and lactating women should take special care while consuming cod liver oil. A high dose of cod liver oil may be unsafe. 
  • You must be cautious before consuming cod liver oil if you have diabetes since cod liver oil may increase blood sugar levels. Hence, monitor your blood glucose level if you have diabetes and consume cod liver oil if your doctor is prescribed it. 
  • A high dose of cod liver oil may be unsafe as it may prevent the blood from clotting and may increase the chances of bleeding. A high dose of cod liver oil may elevate the levels of vitamin A and vitamin D in the body to an abnormal amount. Therefore, you must consult your doctor for a prescribed dose of cod liver oil.9 

Also Read: Canola Oil vs Vegetable Oil: Which is Healthier?

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Cod liver oil may interact with the following drugs: 

  • Cod liver oil may suppress the effect of anti-diabetes drugs and may decrease the blood sugar level. 
  • Taking cod liver oil may interact with anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs. This may lead to the risk of bruising and bleeding.9 

Also Read: Lettuce: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Rajeev Singh

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the advantages of cod liver oil? 

Cod liver oil may be advantageous due to its cholesterol-lowering activity, anti-ulcer property, protecting of the heart from diseases, wound healing, skin protection, protection against viruses, and reducing pain.3–9 

2) Which drugs does cod liver oil interact with? 

Cod liver oil may interact with anti-diabetic drugs and antiplatelet drugs. 

3) Cod liver oil has which vitamin? 

Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A and vitamin D2 

4) Is cod liver oil good for cholesterol? 

Yes, cod liver oil is good for reducing the levels of bad cholesterol3 

5) What are the side effects of cod liver oil? 

Cod liver oil side effects may include heartburn, upset in the stomach, bleeding and nausea.9 

References: 

1. Guy RA. The history of cod liver oil as a remedy. American Journal of Diseases of  Children. 1923 Aug 1;26(2):112-6. [cited 2022 Aug 20] Available from:  https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/1173883 

2. FoodData Central [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 20]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173577/nutrients 

3. Fatima F, Memon A, Zafar S, Amar Z, Subhan Talpur A, Hashim S, et al. Role of Cod Liver Oil in Reducing Elevated Lipid Parameters. Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 20]; Available from: https://www.randomizer.org/ 

4. Narkhede KP, Satapathy T, Pandit B. Protective effect of cod liver oil in experimentally induced gastric ulceration in rats. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology [Internet]. 2019 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Aug 20];12(1):5–10. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331545165_Protective_effect_of_Cod_Liver_Oil_in_Experimentally_Induced_Gastric_Ulceration_in_Rats 

5. Mal M, Kumar A, Meraj A, Devi A, Mañego AMB, Anjum Z, et al. Role of Cod Liver Oil in Preventing Myocardial Infarction. Cureus [Internet]. 2021 Jun 30 [cited 2022 Aug 20];13(6). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8324067/ 

6. L.H. Terkelson, A Eskild- Jensen, H Kjeldsen, John H Barker. Topical application of cod liver oil ointment accelerates wound healing: An experimental study in wounds in the ears of hairless mice  [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 20]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12558986_Topical_application_of_cod_liver_oil_ointment_accelerates_wound_healing_An_experimental_study_in_wounds_in_the_ears_of_hairless_mice 

7. Barcelos RCS, de Mello-Sampayo C, Antoniazzi CTD, Segat HJ, Silva H, Veit JC, et al. Oral supplementation with fish oil reduces dryness and pruritus in the acetone-induced dry skin rat model. J Dermatol Sci [Internet]. 2015 Sep 1 [cited 2022 Aug 20];79(3):298–304. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26195090/ 

8. Clinicaltrials.gov. Protocol for the Cod Liver Oil for Covid-19 Prevention Study Contents. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ProvidedDocs/23/NCT04609423/Prot_SAP_001.pdf  

9. Cod Liver Oil: MedlinePlus Supplements [Internet]. [cited 2022 Aug 20]. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/1040.html#Description 

10. Rajakumar K. Vitamin D, cod-liver oil, sunlight, and rickets: a historical perspective. Pediatrics [Internet]. 2003 [cited 2022 Aug 20];112(2). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/10631397_Vitamin_D_Cod-Liver_Oil_Sunlight_and_Rickets_A_Historical_Perspective 

11. Gruenwald J, Graubaum HJ, Harde A. Effect of cod liver oil on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Advances in Therapy [Internet]. 2002 [cited 2022 Aug 20];19(2):101–7. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11306057_Effect_of_cod_liver_oil_on_symptoms_of_rheumatoid_arthritis 

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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