By Ryan Raman
Cod liver oil is a type of fish oil supplement.
It also contains vitamins A and D, both of which provide many other health benefits.
Here are nine scientifically supported benefits of cod liver oil.
High in Vitamins A and D
Most cod liver oil is extracted from the liver of Atlantic cod.
Cod liver oil has been used for centuries to relieve joint pain and treat rickets, a disease that causes fragile bones in children (3).
Although cod liver oil is a fish oil supplement, it's quite different than regular fish oil.
Regular fish oil is extracted from the tissue of oily fish like tuna, herring, anchovies and mackerel, while cod liver oil is extracted from the livers of cod.
The liver is rich in fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and D, which give it an impressive nutrient profile.
One teaspoon (5 ml) of cod liver oil provides the following (4):
- Calories: 40
- Fat: 4.5 grams
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 890 mg
- Monounsaturated fat: 2.1 grams
- Saturated fat: 1 gram
- Polyunsaturated fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 90 percent of the RDI
- Vitamin D: 113 percent of the RDI
Cod liver oil is incredibly nutritious, with a single teaspoon providing 90% of your daily requirements for vitamin A and 113 percent of your daily requirements for vitamin D.
Summary: Cod liver oil is very nutritious and provides nearly all of your daily requirements for vitamins A and D.
May Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is a natural process that helps the body fight infections and heal injuries.
Unfortunately, in some cases, inflammation can continue at a low level for long periods of time.
Summary: The omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil may help suppress proteins that promote chronic inflammation. Cod liver oil is also a great source of vitamins A and D, both of which have antioxidant properties.
May Improve Bone Health
It's incredibly important to maintain healthy bones as you age.
Cod liver oil is a great dietary source of vitamin D and may reduce age-related bone loss. That's because it helps your body absorb calcium, which is a necessary mineral for strong bones, from the gut (7, 19).
In fact, studies show that when accompanied by a diet high in calcium, taking a vitamin D supplement like cod liver oil can reduce bone loss among adults and strengthen fragile bones in children (20, 21, 22).
Getting enough vitamin D from foods and supplements like cod liver oil is especially important for people who live far from the equator, a their skin doesn't get enough sunlight to synthesize vitamin D for up to six months of the year (23).
Summary: Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin D, which helps with maintaining strong and healthy bones. It is especially important for people who live far from the equator.
May Reduce Joint Pain and Improve Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that's characterized by damage to the joints.
There is currently no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but studies suggest that cod liver oil may reduce joint pain and improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis like joint stiffness and swelling (24, 25).
In one study, 43 people took a 1-gram capsule of cod liver oil daily for three months. They found it reduced symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as morning stiffness, pain and swelling (24).
In another study in 58 individuals, researchers investigated if taking cod liver oil would reduce pain from rheumatoid arthritis enough to help patients reduce their use of anti-inflammatory medications.
By the end of the study, 39% of people who took cod liver oil comfortably reduced their use of anti-inflammatory medication by over 30% (25).
Summary: Thanks to cod liver oil's ability to reduce inflammation, it may help reduce joint pain in those who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
May Support Eye Health
Vision loss is a huge health problem, affecting over 285 million people worldwide (26).
There are many reasons why people lose their vision, but two of the leading causes are glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Both of these diseases can result from chronic inflammation.
In another study in 666 people, researchers found those who ate the most omega-3 fatty acids had a 17% lower risk of early AMD and 41% lower risk of late AMD (27).
In one study in 3,502 people aged 55 and over, researchers found that people who consumed the most vitamin A had a much lower risk of glaucoma than those who ate the least vitamin A (6).
Although vitamin A is great for eye health, it's not recommended to take high doses of it, as it may cause vitamin A toxicity.
Summary: Cod liver oil is a great source of omega-3 and vitamin A, both of which may protect against vision loss from inflammatory eye diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, affecting over 17.5 million people annually (33).
Omega-3s have been shown to have many benefits for your heart, including:
- Reducing triglycerides: Omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil may reduce blood triglycerides by 15–30% (36, 37, 38).
- Lowering blood pressure: Many studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids may lower blood pressure, especially in people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol (2, 39).
- Increasing HDL cholesterol: Omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil can raise good HDL cholesterol, which is linked to a lower risk of heart disease (40, 41).
- Preventing plaque formation: Animal studies have found that cod liver oil may reduce the risk of plaques forming in the arteries. Plaque buildup can narrow the arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke (42, 43).
While taking fish oil supplements like cod liver oil may reduce risk factors for heart disease, there is little evidence that it can prevent heart disease or strokes (44).
Unfortunately, few studies have specifically examined the association of cod liver oil and heart diseas, as many studies classify cod liver oil as regular fish oil.
Thus, more specific research on cod liver oil and heart disease risk factors are needed to make a clear link between the two.
Summary: Cod liver oil may help reduce risk factors for heart disease. Studies specifically on cod liver oil and heart disease risk factors are needed, as most studies group cod liver oil with regular fish oils.
May Improve Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression are common illnesses that together affect over 615 million people worldwide (45).
A large study including 21,835 individuals found that people who took cod liver oil regularly had fewer symptoms of depression alone or combined with anxiety (50).
Nevertheless, while omega-3 fatty acids help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, their overall effect seems small.
In an analysis of 26 studies including 1,478 individuals, omega-3 supplements were only slightly more effective than placebos at reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety (51).
How it reduces symptoms of depression is still unclear, but some studies suggest that vitamin D can bind to receptors in the brain and stimulate the release of mood-improving hormones like serotonin (53, 54, 55).
Summary: The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in cod liver oil may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, but more studies are needed.
May Help Heal Stomach and Gut Ulcers
Ulcers are small breaks in the lining of the stomach or gut. They may cause symptoms of nausea, upper abdominal pain and discomfort.
They are often caused by bacterial infections, smoking, excess use of anti-inflammatory medications or too much acid in the stomach (56).
Animal studies indicate that cod liver oil may help treat ulcers, particularly in the stomach and gut.
In one animal study, researchers found that low and high doses of cod liver oil helped heal ulcers in both the stomach and gut (57).
Another animal study found that cod liver oil suppressed genes that are linked with gut inflammation and reduced inflammation and ulceration in the gut (58).
While the use of cod liver oil to help heal ulcers seems promising, more studies in humans are needed to make clear recommendations.
Summary: Cod liver oil may help treat ulcers in the stomach and gut, but more human studies are needed before making recommendations.
Easy to Add to Your Diet
Cod liver oil is incredibly easy to add to your diet. It comes in many forms, but liquid and capsule forms are the most common.
There are no set guidelines for cod liver oil intake, so most recommendations are based on safe intake levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and D.
A common dose is often 1–2 teaspoons, but taking up to one tablespoon per day is usually safe. Higher doses are not recommended, as they would result in excess vitamin A intake (52).
Although cod liver oil is extremely healthy, some people need to be cautious about their intake since cod liver oil can act as a blood thinner.
So check with your doctor before taking cod liver oil if you take blood pressure or blood thinning medications.
Also, pregnant women should check with their doctor before taking it, as high levels of vitamin A may cause harm to the baby.
Summary: Cod liver oil is easy to add to your diet. Stick with recommended amounts, as excess cod liver oil may be harmful.
The Bottom Line
Cod liver oil is an incredibly nutritious type of fish oil supplement. It's very convenient and contains a great combination of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D.
Cod liver oil may provide you with health benefits like stronger bones, reduced inflammation and less joint pain for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
If you want to try supplementing, a common dose is 1–2 teaspoons of liquid cod liver oil per day. You can also try the capsule form.
If you struggle with the fishy taste of either, try taking it on an empty stomach before your first meal or with a few sips of water.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.