Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

This marvelous golden oil contains large amounts of elongated omega-3 fatty acids, preformed vitamin A and the sunlight vitamin D, essential nutrients that are hard to obtain in sufficient amounts in the modern diet. Samples may also naturally contain small amounts of the important bone- and blood-maintainer vitamin K……..

Cod liver oil contains more vitamin A and more vitamin D per unit weight than any other common food. One hundred grams of regular cod liver oil provides 100,000 IU of vitamin A, almost three times more than beef liver, the next richest source; and 10,000 IU vitamin D, almost four times more than lard, the next richest source. Of course, cod liver oil is only consumed in small amounts, but even a tablespoon (about 15 grams) provides well over the recommended daily allowance for both nutrients.

In addition, cod liver oil contains 7 percent each of the elongated omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. EPA is the precursor of important prostaglandins, localized tissue hormones that help the body deal with inflammation; and DHA is extremely important for the development and function of the brain and nervous system. So it’s no surprise that in numerous studies cod liver oil has proven to be a powerhouse in fighting disease. – Krispin Sullivan, CN

If you’ve followed any of the “Real Food/Nourishing Traditions” style blogs, you’ve probably heard of cod liver oil and the talk of it being the greatest food on the planet. But is it? Should we all take it?

What is Cod Liver Oil?

Back around the times of the Romans, making cod liver oil was a normal procedure. The innards of the cod-fish were left to ferment in a barrel of water and sea salt, the fermentation process pulling out the oils of the liver. This oil was given to royalty and soldier at the time. The soldiers relied on it for good health and strength.

The problem we have now a day is that the cod liver oil found in stores is highly processed, damaging many of the essential nutrients we need for fertility and overall health. It’s most often refined, bleached, and deodorized and many times the natural vitamins are damaged so much that they add in synthetic vitamins as replacements. It’s pertinent to look for naturally processed cod liver oil.

Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

The benefits can be numerous and everyone seems to take it for different reasons. It contains:

  • 6 grams of omega 3 fatty acids per 2 Tbsp. Omega 3’s are helpful in regulating hormones, increasing quality cervical fluid, and blood flow to the reproductive organs, and also help to protect sperm from free radicals. They’ve also shown to be anti-inflammatory within the body as well.
  • Vitamin A in the amount of 15,000 IUs per 2 Tbsp. Vitamin A is very useful at promoting quality cervical fluid, helps to ensure that the woman’s follicles develop correctly, and is needed by the body to produce estrogen. Without vitamin A, we’re more apt to experience harsh periods, fibroids, and even endometriosis.
  • Vitamin D is available in the amount of 2600 IUs per 2 Tbsp. It supports the production of estrogen in both men and women, is needed for insulin production, and is key in regulating cell growth and deciding how those cells grow. Vitamin D is also activated into an endocrine hormone within the body. Deficiencies in vitamin D can lead to PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), PMS, unexplained infertility, depression, autoimmune disease, and more.

I personally take it for the vitamin D as living in Michigan (especially in the winter) we’re subjected to very little sun. The omega 3’s also help keep my eczema at bay, my mood seems to be lifted, and overall I experience greater mental clarity. For me personally, I feel like it contains the nutrients my body needs.

My facebook friends have told me;

  • increase in mental clarity
  • increased energy
  • has boosted immune function (less illness)
  • healing for dry cracked skin
  • acne disappeared
  • lessens breakouts/rashes/eczema
  • less joint pain

We’re making no health claims here 😉 but it does seem that many people have found that taking a fermented cod liver oil supplement has helped them in their quest to better health.

How Much do you Need?

Well…it all depends on who you ask and your own health. Some people will need more than others (like us on the north end of the country). There has also been talk of vitamin A toxicity which in one aspect I think is grossly overdone to the point of making people fear taking vitamin A. On the other hand, women who may become pregnant have a right to know exactly what could happen seeing as how it’s not just our body on the choping block, but our little baby’s as well.

I found this article “Cod Liver Oil: The Number One Superfood” rather interesting since it actually did put a limit on what people should take. (When sometimes it seems that those who take it seem to take a LOT)

Thus if you are or may become pregnant, limit cod liver oil intake to not more than a total vitamin A value of 30,000 IU.

It was also recommended that a person living in southern climates get tested for their own Vitamin D levels to see if they truly need it before they begin supplementing. Meaning that in the summer months or times when you spend plenty of time outdoors, a supplement may not be necessary for you. (while others deficient would still see benefits) I personally take about 6 capsules per day right now as I’m still nursing and find that my needs for omega 3’s go up during this time, and for the fact that while the calendar says spring, it’s still to chill to spend the day outdoors. For me, this equals to about 5475 IUs for vitamin A and 1281 IUs for Vitamin D. Could I take more? Probably quite easily. But I also feel that it’s better for me to take a lessor amount of good quality (and more expensive) oil that to take a cheap oil with less nutrients.

And personally, I also pay attention to the fact that the daily limit for pregnant women as stated by the FDA (I think) is 10,000. It’s a controversial subject as proponents of cod liver oil state that taking to much is only an issue if you’re talking about synthetic vitamin A. I like to take a fairly balanced approach to my nutrition though, so I take about a teaspoon of a fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin butter oil combo every day and also supplement with vitamin D3 when needed.

We’ll discuss tomorrow where I buy my oil and a bit on how I take it.

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
Donielle believes women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, she has a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. Her personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and she started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information she found helpful in her journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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  1. says

    Thank you for this informative post. I’ve been so curious about cod-liver oil & remember everyone taking it when I was a kid. Now I think I’m ready to introduce it to my family. Thank you again :)

  2. N. Boyd says


    I take a 1/2 tsp of Green Pastures Fermented CLO/Butter Oil Blend. How do I know how much vitamin A is in that? I’m unsure of dosage.


    • donielle says

      @N. Boyd, From what I can see, there are about 10,000IUs of vitamin A in about one teaspoon of cod liver oil. I personally take about 1/2 tsp per day – more when I’m sick and some times I take a week or two off.

      So if you also take 1/2 tsp, you’re getting about 5000IUs a day.