Cod Liver Oil vs Fish Oil: What to Consider When Buying

You might think they are very similar but fish oil and cod liver oil are two distinct health supplements. It is true they are both sourced from fish and they deliver unique health benefits. In fact, cod liver oil represents a certain category of fish oil. In other terms, the larger type of fish oil includes the cod liver oil as well as other similar supplements. These oils are good because they are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

So, all people who don’t consume a couple of non-fried fish servings per week might benefit from supplementing their diet with a type of fish oil supplement. Below, I will discuss certain important aspects of cod liver and general fish oils such as their uses, benefits, potential side effects, and more.

Topic Contents

A. Cod Liver Oil Overview

Cod liver oil, as you can easily guess from what the name implies, comes from the codfishes’ livers. The most commonly used to prepare this supplement are the Pacific cod and the Atlantic codfishes. Codfishes, like many other types of fish, eat phytoplankton which consumes microalgae. So, the initial sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are microalgae.

Cod Liver Oil Health Benefits

This type of fish oil is rich in DHA and EPA which are both good oils that your body needs. Furthermore, it contains minerals, nutrients, and vitamins such as A and D. Probably the most important health benefit that cod liver oil offers to its consumers is given by the product’s anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamins A and D are a factor that differentiates cod liver oil from other types of fish oil.

Long story short, here are some of the main advantages one can benefit from when including cod liver oil in his/her daily diet:

  • Reduces body inflammation;
  • Lowers anxiety and alleviates symptoms of depression;
  • Helps patients who suffer from arthritis by reducing their pain;
  • Maintains a proper bone density;
  • It is good for pregnant women because it supports a healthy fetal brain development as well as eyesight;
  • It might prevent the risk of certain health conditions such as type 1 diabetes, especially during pregnancy;
  • Prevents several respiratory illnesses;
  • Promotes a healthy immunity;
  • Lowers blood pressure;
  • Prevents numerous cardiovascular diseases.

Main Uses of Cod Liver Oil

There are plenty of uses when it comes to cod liver oil. Most people include one gel capsule per day right after a main meal to prevent numerous health conditions, fight aging effects, relieve anxiety and stress, and so on.

It can even be used as a natural ear infection ailment in young children. Several studies suggest that kids who take cod liver oil along with another multivitamin and mineral product like selenium might have a lower risk of developing a nasty ear infection. Furthermore, there is some evidence that this type of oil can help people who suffer from heart-related issues and symptoms such as an irregular heartbeat.

According to certain specialists, cod liver oil is also good in treating glaucoma and healing wounds. On the other hand, we need a lot more evidence to see whether or not cod liver oil truly helps in all the situations listed above.

Pros and Cons of Cod Liver Oil


  • Cod liver oil capsules are highly affordable compared to many other supplements. So, they will work great for you if you’re on a limited budget;
  • Provides a large number of health benefits. Helps you live longer, age slower, focus better, and gain a healthier skin;
  • Contains essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that prevent a series of illnesses, including oxidative stress.


  • Cod liver oil has a terrible taste so it is best to purchase this product in the form of capsules;
  • It is pretty hard to find a great cod liver oil that is made from natural ingredients only. Some manufacturers, in order to keep their prices low, include cheap ingredients that your body won’t be able to properly absorb;
  • Some people might experience bloating or gas after taking cod liver oil capsules but this rarely happens.

Side Effects

Cod liver oil is pretty safe to take for the majority of adult people as well as children, especially when taken by mouth. Still, there are several mild adverse effects that can appear when consuming this health supplement:

  • Bad breath;
  • Loose stools;
  • Nausea;
  • Heartburn; etc.

To prevent these problems from appearing, I suggest you take the oil with one of your main meals. Also, make sure to take the proper dose because a higher dosage can lead to other more severe problems like an increased risk of bleeding.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take more than the recommended daily dosage of cod liver oil. Otherwise, it might become unsafe. To make sure you’re allowed to consume this supplement, you must ask your doctor’s opinion first.

Proper Dosing

The best way to consume this supplement is taking it by mouth as it follows:

  • If you want to lower the level of your blood’s triglycerides you should take 20 mL per day;
  • For people who have high cholesterol levels, the proper dosage is 30 mL per day;
  • If you want to lower your blood pressure, you must consume around 20 mL per day;
  • For any other reasons, including for healthy people who use the oil as a prevention method – one capsule per day for a period of 10 days. After that period, you should take a break from ingesting the oil for up to 20 days and then continue taking one daily capsule for another 10 days.

Average Price

The cost of cod liver oil varies a lot depending on the form in which it is marketed or in which you want to buy it: liquid or capsules, the container’s size, the seller, brand, etc. For example, the cost starts at around $8 per bottle and it can reach up to $40 for larger containers or premium brands.

The Best Cod Liver Oil Options – My Recommendations

What I consider to be some of the best cod liver oil products on the market are the following choices:

B. Fish Oil Overview

The most natural and common way to obtain fish oil is by eating a couple of fish servings per week. Still, some people feel the need to supplement their diet with other products that contain fish oil. Basically, fish oil comes from fatty fishes. It is extracted from the fishes’ flesh. Some of the best fish types used to create fish oil are tuna, salmon, herring, and others.

Fish Oil Health Benefits

Omega-3 fatty acids represent approximately 30% of any fish oil which is helpful in a lot of areas like the following ones:

  • Maintains a healthy heart;
  • Prevents certain conditions like anxiety, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis;
  • Supports a good mental health;
  • Lowers body inflammation;
  • Helps you lose weight due to the fact that it reduces waist circumference;
  • Supports a healthy and good-looking skin;
  • Promotes a healthy liver, etc.

Main Uses of Fish Oil

Fish oil is recommended to people with a high level of triglycerides in their blood. One capsule that contains between 370 and 460 grams of fish oil has the power to significantly lower triglyceride levels. On one hand, studies have shown that fish oil is effective in such cases for adults and older people. On the other hand, another research found out that taking fish oil supplements might not be very helpful for adolescents who deal with the same health problem.

Taking one daily capsule of fish oil might also help in cases of heart conditions. Furthermore, you could prevent issues such as heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions by supplementing your diet with the right type and the proper amount of fish oil.

Finally, fish oil is possibly effective for bipolar disorder but patients should take this type of supplement along with their conventional medical treatment. According to some specialists, the oil is also good for damaged kidneys, menstrual pain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Pros and Cons of Fish Oil


  • It is a more convenient way to ingest Omega-3 fatty acids than eating several fish servings per week;
  • Promotes a general good health, prevents numerous diseases, and acts as an effective ailment in many health conditions like heart-related problems, high blood pressure, and more;
  • Has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and supports a proper brain development as well as a good mental function.


  • It doesn’t have a long shelf life and it may become rancid easily which represents a major drawback of fish oil supplements;
  • When you consume fish oil, you must know exactly how much EPA and DHA the product contains because the amount of fatty acids is important in order to achieve the benefits that come with fish oil. Unfortunately, most labels are not reliable because they don’t specify the exact fatty acid content;
  • Taking a high dosage might lead to certain issues like bleeding and intestinal problems;
  • Those who suffer from food allergies should be careful when consuming this type of supplement.

Side Effects

Fish oil is usually safe for most individuals, especially when taken by mouth or when consumed in low doses of maximum three grams per day. Taking a higher dose can lead to higher risks of bleeding by preventing the blood from clotting. Also, high amounts of fish oil lower one’s immune system which reduces the organism’s ability to prevent or fight infections.

Other possible side effects that fish oil can create are the ones listed below:

  • Heartburn;
  • Loose stools;
  • Nausea;
  • Bad breath;
  • Nosebleeds;
  • Rashes; etc.

One of the best ways to prevent these unpleasant effects is consuming fish oil with your meals.

When taken by IV, fish oil is possibly safe in the short-term. This means you shouldn’t inject fish oil for more than 4 consecutive weeks. As a special precaution, children, allergic or sensitive people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women must always seek a doctor’s opinion before deciding to consume fish oil.

Proper Dosing

When taken by mouth, fish oil should be taken by adults in the following dosages:

  • 1-15 grams per day for about 6 months will lower high triglycerides;
  • Up to 10 grams per day for one month to several years is the right dosage if you want to prevent heart diseases or if you suffer from such a condition;
  • 5.1 grams of fish oil per day for up to 3 years are recommended for preventing miscarriages;
  • Patients with high blood pressure should consume 2-18 grams of fish oil per day for up to one whole year;
  • For kidney-related problems, around 12 grams per day for up to 2 months should be enough.

There are two other ways in which an adult can take fish oil: by IV and applied directly to the skin. The second method is effective in cases of psoriasis and one should apply the oil every day for an entire month.

Children should only take this supplement by mouth and the proper dosage must be given by a pediatrician.

Average Price

The cost of a fish oil container can start as low as under $10 and reach up to more than $40. Still, the average price of most fish oil products ranges between $15 and $30 per container.

The Best Fish Oil Options – My Recommendations

From what I have heard, tried, and researched, some of the best fish oil choices on the market are the one listed below:

Cod Liver Oil vs Fish Oil – Bottom Line

If you want to increase the Omega-3 fatty acid intake, both fish oil and cod liver oil are good supplements that will help you accomplish that goal. Fatty acids are essential nutrients that support the healthy functioning of the entire body, from your brain to your heart.

Although these two oil supplements have plenty of similar attributes, their specific health benefits, as well as risks, are different because they are extracted from different sources.

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