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Is Cod Liver Oil Good For You?

Even distilled cod liver oil supplements may have toxic levels of vitamin A.

December 15, 2009 |
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Transcript

Cod liver oil that has been distilled to remove any industrial toxins and heavy metals. Harmful, Harmless, or Healthy?
Harmful, due to toxic levels of vitamin A. In fact, so much it could damage our own liver. So, not good for the cod’s liver or ours.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email volunteer@nutritionfacts.org

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are over a thousand subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Soymilk: shake it up!

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other “HHH” videos (Harmful, Harmless, or Helpful?). Also, there are over a thousand subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

    • Susan Fairbairn nee Kirk

      I would be interested in hearing the answers to the above questions?

      • Toxins

        above question has been answered by myself, please view the responses.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/ncibotti/ ncibotti

    I’ve been using Arctic Cod Liver Oil from Nordic Naturals for years. I’ve also been giving it to my 7 year old son for years. I’m deeply concerned about the possibility of liver damage due to high levels of A. Are you recommending that we no longer use cod liver or fish oil supplements?

    • http://blissfulwriter.hubpages.com/ Blissful Writer

      According to the bottle of the Nordic Cod Liver Oil, there is only 650 IU of vitamin A per serving (about 13% of Daily Value). This is no where near toxic levels. I’m assuming that most other common cod liver oils off the shelves are no where near toxic levels either.

  • Deanna

    What is considered to be a toxic level of Vitamin A?

    • Toxins

      see my reply above

  • Tina

    Where is the answer to the question ” what is considered to be a toxic level of Vitamin A? I would like to know the answer too.

    • Toxins

      “Because vitamin A is fat soluble, the body stores excess amounts,
      primarily in the liver, and these levels can accumulate. Although excess preformed vitamin A can have significant toxicity (known as hypervitaminosis A), large amounts of beta-carotene and other provitamin A carotenoids are not associated with major adverse effects”

      Upper limits are capped at 3,000 IU’s so consuming 10,000 IU’s of preformed vitamin A is indeed toxic.

      http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/

      More information on fish oil can be found here. The science indeed shows ill effects.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/fish-oil/

      • Connie Sanchez, ND

        In addition to the above risks, excess amounts of vitamin A have been shown to increase risk of bone fracture. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=retinol+retinoic+acid+vitamin+A+and+hip+fracture+risk

      • Karen Tough

        10,000 iu is the upper safe level for vit A !! people regularly consume 20 – 50000 iu without issue. Many people can’t convert betacarotene to Vit A & thought to cause cancer in smokers for this reason. Many believe since abandoning organ meats we don’t get enough & rdi should be higher.
        It is now known that we don’t convert beta carotene 1 for 1 either.

        • Toxins

          The safe upper limit is 3,000 not 10,000. People do not regularly consume mass quantities of preformed vitamin A as this would lead to toxicity. Your statements regarding beta carotene are untrue and unsupported. Please share evidence to back your claims.

          • Karen Tough

            3000 is the RDI !!! 10000 is the upper safe level.
            Wardlaws perspectives in nutrition , upteen govt sources & the cancer council. Do a search on google scholar.

          • Toxins

            According to the NIH reference tables, 3,000 is the upper limit.
            http://www.iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Vitamins.pdf

          • Karen Tough

            those figures are ug/d (aka mcg) not iu’s – 3000ug= 10,000 iu’s.

          • Toxins

            Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy. Your absolutely right, I have confused the units of measurement.

          • Karen Tough

            no worries – I would appreciate it if you would correct the article/comments to prevent mis-information regarding intakes.

  • Guest

    I have a

  • Laury

    I have an A vit deficiency, should I take cod liver oil? Or what would be best? Right now I eat goji berry.

    • Toxins

      Eating greens, sweet potatoes and many other yellow/orange plant foods provide plenty of vitamin A.

  • oliver

    if distilled=concentrated then perhaps, but distilled=purified to my knowledge, the levels of vit A in fish oil are not toxic. people can consume 10,000 iu with no toxicity.there is a difference between helpful advice and scaremongering- fish oil is the most important supplement today to combat our diets.

  • Mimi

    Recently, the results of a study investigating the effects of omega-3 supplements/fish oil on cognitive outcomes in children were published:
    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/news/news70305.html