Potential Risks of Cod Liver Oil



Cod liver oil is known for its great health benefits. The most well known substance of cod liver oil is Omega 3, which can be found in both flesh and liver. Omega 3 is essential for the essential functions of digestive system, joints, heart, brain and various other systems. Cod liver oil should have enough vitamin E, which helps our body to maintain the health of hair, skin and arteries. Our body can’t produce Omega 3, so it is essential that we get the substance from food and supplements. Omega 3 is consisted of two major components, Eicosapentaenoic Acid or EPA and Docosahexaenoic Acid or DHA. Fish gives us Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, which is processed by our body to EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, the process is somewhat inefficient.

Flax seed also contains good amount of ALA, which makes it a good alternative to cod liver oil. Cod liver oil has plenty of vitamin A and vitamin D; but cod fish in some areas have higher amount of contaminant, such as pesticide and mercury. Our body needs vitamin A, but because cod liver oil has plenty of it, regular consumption may cause overdose symptoms. When it comes to vitamin D intake, there’s no recommended vitamin D upper limit intake. Children and adults require 200 UI each day, while elderly may need 400 UI each day. Older women may need 600 UI each day, due to their vulnerability to osteoporosis. We need vitamin D for processing calcium, which is essential to ensure that we have healthy bone. One teaspoon of cod liver oil may have up to 5000 UI of vitamin D, which is much higher than our daily intake.

On the other hand, vitamin A is known to be toxic at higher amount, so you should know about the tolerable upper limit. The daily intake of a young adult is 10,000 IU each day. Women only require half the amount, while pregnant mothers should avoid vitamin A supplementation, because an overdose may cause birth defects. Vitamin A is important for fetal development, but you should have only moderate amount. If women get too much vitamin A, there is also a higher risk of osteoporosis.  One teaspoon of cod liver oil contains about 5000 IU of vitamin A, so it’s already enough. The rest can be obtained from our normal diet. Carotenoids, such as beta carotene are better sources of vitamin A.

Our body converts carotenoids when it needs vitamin A, so the risk of overdose can be reduced significantly. Negative effects of carotenoid overdose may only include the yellowing of the skin. Another thing that you should know that cod fish is over harvested in some areas, which cause some populations to become somewhat depleted. The harvesting activity of cod fish may also damage the habitat. So, if you can, it is better to get vitamin A, vitamin D and Omega 3 from alternative sources. The exploitation of cod fish should cause damages to our environment. Also, fish oil supplements should be derived from the flesh, because the liver contains exceptionally large amount of vitamins, which may cause overdose symptoms.