Cod Liver Oil: 7 Health Benefits, Nutritional Info & How to Take

Updated in February 2024

Cod liver oil is a nutritional supplement that rich in vitamin D, which is an essential nutrient that promotes the absorption and maintenance of calcium levels in the blood. It strengthens the bones and can play a role in preventing osteoporosis, falls and fractures.

Cod liver oil also has excellent amounts of omega 3, a healthy fat that helps to strengthen the immune system, fight free radicals and reduce inflammation. It can help to prevent Alzheimer's, stroke and heart attack. 

Also recommended: Omega-3 Foods: 14 Natural Sources, Daily Dose & Recipes

Cod liver oil is generally sold in pharmacies or health food stores, in the form of tablets or liquid form. However, this oil should only be used as directed by a doctor or nutritionist, as excessive intake can cause symptoms such as peeling skin, bleeding, headache and nausea.

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

Health benefits

The main health benefits of consuming cod oil are:

1. Preventing cardiovascular diseases

Cod liver oil has excellent amounts of omega 3, a healthy fat with anti-inflammatory properties, that promote optimal arterial functioning. It can prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis and stroke.

Furthermore, the omega 3 present in cod liver oil also has an antioxidant function, which prevents the oxidation of fat cells. This helps to regulate cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood and can prevent heart attacks and heart failure.

2. Strengthening bones

Because it is rich in vitamin D, cod liver oil helps to improve the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. This promotes the balance of these mineral levels in the body, which can strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. Check-out other foods that are high in vitamin D that you can include in your diet.

Also recommended: Vitamin D Deficiency: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Furthermore, vitamin D also plays a role in the formation and maintenance of muscle mass. This can help to preserve strength and prevent falls and fractures.

3. Preventing premature aging

Cod liver oil prevents premature aging as it is rich in vitamin A, a nutrient with antioxidant properties that combats excess free radicals. It can help to reduce damage to skin cells, preventing sagging and the formation of wrinkles.

It is rich in omega 3, a healthy fat that helps maintain the skin's natural protective barrier. Therefore, it can also help reduce fluid losses, to promote skin hydration, elasticity and softness.

4. Helping prevent cancer

Because it is rich in vitamin A, D and omega 3, nutrients with excellent antioxidant action, cod liver oil helps fight free radicals, which are mainly responsible for damaging healthy cells, helping to prevent some types of cancer.

5. Preserving mental health

Cod liver oil preserves mental health because it is rich in omega 3, a fat with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. It the cells of the central nervous system, helping to treat anxiety and depression.

Furthermore, cod liver oil contains large amounts of vitamin A, a vitamin with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It protects cells in the central nervous system against inflammation and free radicals, helping to prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.

6. Preventing diabetes

Because it contains omega 3, vitamin A and vitamin D, nutrients that have an important antioxidant action, cod liver oil strengthens and protects pancreatic cells from free radicals. It can improve the action of insulin and prevent insulin resistance and diabetes.

7. Helping to treat rheumatoid arthritis

Cod liver oil is rich in omega 3, a nutrient with powerful anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory action. It can strengthen the immune system fight inflammation and reduce pain.

Nutritional information

The following table contains nutritional information for 13.6 g, which corresponds to 1 tablespoon, of cod liver oil:


Quantity per 13.6 g (1 tablespoon) of cod liver oil


123 calories


0 g


0 g


13.6 g

Vitamin A

4080 mcg

Vitamin D

34 mcg

Omega 3

2.9 g

It is important to remember that to obtain all the health benefits that cod liver oil has to offer, it is essential to maintain a healthy diet and to exercise regularly.

How to take

Cod liver oil can be used in capsule or liquid form.

  • Cod liver oil in capsules: dosing for capsules varies from 250 mg to 1000 mg, with the intake of 1 to 3 capsules per day being generally recommended for children and adults. These should be taken with a glass of water and preferably with meals.
  • Cod liver oil in liquid form: The general recommendation for adults is 1 tablespoon per day with breakfast or lunch. For children aged 2 to 12 years old, the use of 1 teaspoon per day may be recommended.

The dosing and supplementation varies according to each person's goals, health status and nutritional needs. Therefore, it is recommended that cod liver oil should only be used as directed by a doctor or registered dietitian.

Possible side effects

Taking cod liver oil can cause some simple side effects such as thirst, headache, nausea, bad breath, metallic taste in the mouth, dizziness, vomiting and stomach pain.

The use of this supplement can also cause more serious reactions, such as yellowing of the skin and eyes and bleeding, or allergic reactions such as redness and itching of the skin, and swelling of the face, lips and tongue.

Contraindications for use

Cod liver oil is not recommended for people with fish allergies. People who use medications to treat diabetes, high blood pressure or anticoagulants should only consume cod liver oil as directed by a doctor, as this supplement can alter the action of these medications

Women who are breastfeeding or who are pregnant should only use cod liver oil as directed by a doctor. This is because excessive intake of vitamin A can increase the risk of miscarriage and malformations in the baby's nervous system and heart.