Is Cod fish oil good for you?

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This is a tricky one because the answer is both yes and no. Cod liver oil as the name suggests is taken from the liver of the Cod. Although the oil contains high amounts of the really important Omega 3 fatty acids such as Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), it also contains significant amounts of Vitamins A and D which although can be good for you in the right amounts, too much can prove toxic for some people. Furthermore, as we have done a good job of polluting our waters, cod liver oil may also contain harmful toxins such as mercury.

Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

The Omega 3 fatty acids in cod liver oil are the very Omega 3 fatty acids that we find so hard to source in our diet unless we eat significant amounts of fish. Normal Western diets are now so high in Omega 6 and so low in Omega 3 that many health professionals believe this imbalance to be the main cause of a rise in heart disease, inflammatory conditions and other so called ailments of the 21st Century.

Omega 6 is pro inflammatory whereas Omega 3 is anti inflammatory. What we need to do to rectify this imbalance is reduce our intake of Omega 6 and increase our intake of Omega 3 but of course this can be difficult if we don’t eat a lot of fish. This is where fish oil comes in and yes taking cod liver oil can help to increase your Omega 3 intake.

Vitamin A Toxicity

As Cod liver oil contains relatively high amounts of vitamin A it is quite possible to exceed the recommended dietary allowance and because Vitamin A can accumulate in the body, there is a risk of developing Hypervitaminosis A, a serious condition as a result of vitamin A toxicity. Vitamin A in high doses can also cause birth defects so it is not recommended for pregnant women or for anyone trying to conceive.


Another potential problem with Cod Liver Oil is the possibility of the oil containing undesirable and harmful toxins such as mercury and PCBs. This of course does not apply if the oil has been refined and purified to remove these toxins. However, not all fish oil producers regularly test their oils for purity so it is essential that if you do consider taking fish oil that you opt for a reputable one.

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