Which is Better: Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil? |
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Which is Better: Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil?

admin February 11, 2016

**This post is sponsored by Dropi.**

If you ask Grandma (or maybe Great-Grandma, these days), she’ll tell you to take your cod liver oil!  My own father, in his mid-60s, not-so-fondly remembers his grandmother insisting he take it daily — and hating it.

More recently, though, it’s been all about the fish oil.  There are commercials and products everywhere that tout the benefit of fish oils for health.

Is there really a difference?  If so, which is better?

Which is Better: Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil?

First, we need to look at the oils to see what the difference is between them.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is made from the body of the fish.  Most companies use anchovies and sardines for their fish oils.  Fish oils typically contain about 300 mg of omega-3s per 1000 mg of oil.  The omega-3 content is the main reason to take fish oil.  Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory.

It is worth noting that many fish oils are purified, and there has been some controversy about whether or not these oils retain any value.  Fish oils that are not purified, and retain their natural fatty acid profile, are known to be beneficial for heart health, reducing cancer risk, and more.

There is evidence for the benefits of fish oil (1, 2, 3, 4).  Not all studies found benefits, though (1).

Cod Liver Oil

Cod liver oil is made from the livers of the cod fish — Gadus Morhua.  (But not every company uses this fish, so make sure to check.)  This has a totally different nutrient profile than fish oil does.  Cod liver oil typically has about 230 mg of omega-3s per 1000 mg of oil, which is similar to fish oil.

But.  Cod liver oil also contains fairly high levels of vitamins A and D, which are completely lacking in fish oils.  One dose of cod liver oil contains around 200 IU of vitamin D, and 2000 – 2500 IU of vitamin A.

The studies that look at cod liver oil are much more positive than those that look at fish oil, and much less controversial.  The synergistic nature of vitamins A, D and omega-3s are far more beneficial than omega-3s alone.

This study looks at general health preservation.  This study shows it’s beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis.  This study shows that cod liver oil reduces the risk of type I diabetes.  This study shows that whole fish and cod liver oil (but not omega-3s alone) are associated with lower risk of asthma.  However, that last study shows that high doses of cod liver oil are associated with a greater risk (as great as never taking it at all)!  That’s why it’s important not to trust companies that promote large doses of cod liver oil!

cod liver oil or fish oil

What’s the Best Option?

Cod liver oil, from a reputable company, is far superior to a fish oil product — especially a purified fish oil.

The cod liver oil we use is Dropi, which is cold-pressed, extra-virgin Icelandic cod liver oil, from the Gadus Morhua fish.  It’s a light-colored oil, with a light flavor, and all of the natural vitamins intact.  We take just 1/4 tsp. per child, and 1/2 tsp. per adult, per day (most days!).  This seems to produce optimal benefits, based on the research I did, and shared above.

Dropi is offering FREE shipping for the month of February, too.  It’s a good deal!

Supplements are generally more effective when they are synergistic, rather than taking single nutrients in isolation — this is for many reasons.  That’s why cod liver oil, which is really more ‘food’ than supplement, is the best choice.

Do you take cod liver oil or fish oil?

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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