Cod Liver Oil: Why We Don't Recommend It

What is cod liver oil?

As the name implies, it is extracted oil from the livers of cod fish.

What are the claimed benefits?

  • Reduces inflammation

  • Helps relieve arthritis symptoms

  • Supports brain health

  • Improves anxiety

  • Improves depression

  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

  • Improves cardiovascular health

  • Supports liver health

  • Improves eyesight

  • Improves skin health

  • Regulates gene expression

  • Reduces cancer risk

  • Improves the health of Diabetics

  • Improves bone density

What the science says

Yes, but cautiously. Similar to other fish oil supplements, cod liver oil is a great source of healthy omega-3 fats (primarily EPA and DHA). Additionally, it is fortified with fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D and E. These are essential nutrients for optimal health and can also be consumed in a healthy diet (or by exposure to sunshine in the case of vitamin D).

The Apeiron Life perspective

In excess, particularly if chronically consumed in supplement form, vitamins A, D and E can be toxic and may even increase risk of certain cancers. Because of their fat solubility, they are more easily stored in the body compared to water soluble vitamins. This also means they can accumulate and be harder to get rid of excess. For this reason, more is not always better. For the lowest risk and optimal health, it is best to consume safe seafood and foods rich in these nutrients. Below are a few examples.

Vitamin A (think orange and green plants)

  • Sweet potato

  • Spinach

  • Pumpkin

  • Carrots

  • Cantaloupe

  • Peppers

  • Mangos

  • Apricots

  • Broccoli

  • Also, herring and salmon

Vitamin D

  • Salmon

  • Sardines

  • Eggs

  • Cow’s milk

Vitamin E

  • Wheat germ

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Almonds

  • Hazelnuts

  • Peanuts

  • Spinach

  • Broccoli

  • Kiwis

  • Mangos

  • Tomatoes

Will a supplement benefit you?

Possibly, but not a first line recommendation. A diet rich in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, such as the Mediterranean Diet, and monitoring nutrient levels in your blood is adequate for most people. If you were low in omega-3s, vitamin D or other nutrients at your last blood draw, work with your Client Advocate for the right supplement doses for you.

Still curious to try a supplement? If you do, here’s what to keep an eye on

Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of vitamin toxicity such as nose bleeds or excessive bruising or bleeding, heartburn, heart arrhythmias, dizziness, nausea and pain in joints and bones. There is also an increased risk for calcification and hardening of soft tissues and arteries, liver damage, certain cancers, coma and even death. Women who might be pregnant or are lactating should avoid cod liver oil. If still interested to try, consult a nutritionally-informed doctor before doing so.


Recent Posts

See All