As the name suggests, cod liver oil is a nutrient-dense oil. which is made from the oil found in the liver of cod fish. Dr. Ritika Samaddar, HoD – Dietetics and Nutrition, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, says, “Cod liver oil is commonly taken as a dietary supplement. It is one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and contains relatively high amounts of vitamin A and vitamin D.” According to the USDA, each teaspoon of cod liver oil has about 41 calories and 4.5 grams of fat (split between monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids). Many adults and children can benefit from the daily intake of cod liver oil. Here are 10 powerful cod liver oil benefits:
1. Treats Diabetes
Dr. Manoj Ahuja, Fortis Hospital, says, “Cod liver oil is a great source of essential healthy fats and helps control insulin resistance, inflammation and glucose levels in the blood.” According to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, giving cod liver oil supplements to diabetic rats for 12 weeks helped in treating diabetes naturally.
2. Good for Eyes
“Cod liver oil contains Vitamin A which is good for your eyes. It helps the surface of the eyes, mucous membranes and skin, acting as an effective barrier to ward off bacteria and viruses, reducing the risk of eye infections,” says Dr. Samaddar.
3. Prevents Respiratory Infections
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, cod liver oil supplements decreased trips to the doctor by 36 to 58% for upper respiratory illnesses.
4. Boosts Immunity
Dr. Samaddar says, “High Vitamin A content in cod liver oil helps in building immunity.” Vitamin A is an important antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress (also called free radical damage).
5. Lowers Risk of Cancer
“According to many studies, high levels of Vitamin D (from both sun exposure and cod liver supplementation) have been associated with lower risks of cancer,” adds Dr. Manoj Ahuja.
6. Heart Healthy
Delhi-based Nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat says, “Cod liver oil is basically a fish oil, which contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and as such works against heart diseases.” “Daily intake of cod liver oil can help prevent coronary atherosclerosis (a disease in the heart’s major blood vessels),” adds Dr. Ritika.
7. Balances Cholesterol Levels
Dr. Samaddar adds, “Cod liver oil contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that help in lowering LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein), the bad cholesterol and improves HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein, the good cholesterol.”
8. Reduces Anxiety
According to 2007 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Omega-3 fatty acids present in cod liver oil improved the outcome of depression and anxiety in the general population.
9. Maintains Bone Health
Anshul Jaibharat says, “Due to its high content of Vitamin D, cod liver oil is good for bone health.” Vitamin D is important for building and maintaining strong bones.
10. Treats Arthritis
Cod liver oil helps reduce risk of osteoarthritis. It contains high levels of Vitamin D which help your intestines absorb calcium from the food you eat. It is important to get enough of both nutrients to make sure your bones are dense and strong,” adds Dr. Samaddar.
“While cod liver oil offers many potential health benefits, it is best to have it in moderation as it can result in Vitamin A toxicity leading to joint pain, headaches, etc. The maximum intake of Vitamin A is 10,000 IU daily but some cod liver oil supplements contain excessive amounts of Vitamin A. And most of us already consume a lot of Vitamin A from foods including carrots, green leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes”, says Dr. Ahuja.
Before buying cod liver oil, check the label for the amount of Vitamin A and make sure your total daily intake of Vitamin A does not exceed the tolerable limit. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, you should consider taking a supplement of 500 milligrams daily if you do not eat fish or other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. “Cod liver oil could also be the missing factor in your child’s health, but speak to your child’s Paediatrician before giving cod liver oil supplements."