Fermented Cod Liver Oil: Benefits, Nutritional Facts, and Health Risks

Fermented Cod Liver Oil: Benefits, Nutritional Facts, and Health Risks

The fermented cod liver oil is a food supplement derived from the liver of a fish called cod or Gadidae. The fermentation process allows the beneficial oils to separate from the liver without damaging the fat-soluble vitamins on it.

Thus, fermented cod liver oil has high levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), just like other fish oils available in the market today. In addition, it contains Vitamins D and A, which can prevent rickets and other illnesses.

In this article, we will discuss the manufacture of fermented cod liver oil, its benefits, recommended usage, and example products.

Manufacture of Fermented Cod Liver Oil 

Traditionally, the cod liver oil comes in various grades. There are brown and pale cod liver oils. It is pale and straw in color with a mild flavor and it is used as food consumption.

During the time of Ancient Scandinavian Vikings, they produce cod liver oil by steaming the liver in a pot of water. They put branches of birch tree over a kettle of water. The cod liver was put above the branches and the oil drips from the liver. As the steam rises, the oil remains in the kettle and then they strain/ remove it. Thus, this was the first method of extracting cod liver oil.

Meanwhile, the cod liver oil became popular during the Industrial Revolution for several industrial purposes. To produce the oil, they put the cod liver in barrels and they strain the oil over many weeks. The oil that comes out is brown in color and it has a foul smell.

Although the liver oil was foul smelling, people still use it as an alternative medicine.

For example, in 1789, Dr. Darbey of Manchester Infirmary in England used the oil to manage pain from rheumatism. In 1824, rickets spread in England and with the use of cod liver oil, the patients gain strength.

In 1850, the fish livers are grounded with water in a slurry. Then, it is carefully simmered until the oil rises above. Next, the oil is purified from the mixture.

By 1930s, the oil was well-established to be a cure against rickets and other Vitamin D deficiencies, especially for children.

Nowadays, there are various methods to produce oil from the liver of the cod which are the ‘Cold Flotation Process’, Pressure Cooking, and Pressure Extraction. These methods all include purification steps to create a pure liver oil.

Nutritional Facts on Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The fermented cod liver oil has high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids such as the  Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic Acid, unlike other fish oils. There is a retention of high levels of Omega-3 through fermentation. No fatty acids are damaged even through the use of high temperatures in the process.

In addition, in 100 grams of cod liver oil, it contains 22.608 grams of saturated fatty acids, 46.711 grams of monounsaturated fatty acids, and 22.541 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Vitamin A and D

The fermented cod liver oil contains Vitamins A and D. For 100 grams of the oil, it contains 100,000 I.U. of both Vitamins A and D.

Vitamins A and D are essential for a healthy body and they are both fat-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and slows down the aging process. It helps in maintaining a healthy eyesight, a glowing skin, and a smooth neurological function of human beings. Vitamin A can also help reduce inflammation by fighting the free radical damage.

Meanwhile, Vitamin D is necessary for the growth of the bones and calcium absorption. Cod liver oil is a great source of Vitamin D. With just one tablespoon of the supplement, we can have 100% of our daily Vitamin D intake.

Research has found out that the majority of children and adults are Vitamin D deficient, thus, the cod liver oil is a good remedy for this issue. It can modulate cell growth, reduce inflammation, and help in several immune functions. With a substantial amount of Vitamin D in the body, there will be a control on calcium and phosphorus levels in the body. We can maintain healthy bones and reduce the risk of diabetes.

Health Benefits of Using Cod Liver Oil

Using the fermented cod liver oil has various benefits. Here are some of them:

Enhance Fertility

The fats found in fermented cod liver oil plays an essential role in ensuring that users have a healthy reproductive system. The Omega-3 Fatty acids in the oil help produce sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Studies show that the cod liver oil can increase ovarian and testicular health.

If the Omega-3 Fatty Acids are combined with Vitamin D, it can help function the endocrine system smoothly. Furthermore, it can help the pituitary glands, hypothalamic system, and adrenal glands work properly and regulate the release of sex hormones.

Improve cognitive performance

The Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Psychiatry says that Vitamin D can play an essential role in maintaining good brain function even at old age. Vitamin D which is present in cod liver oil can reduce the risk of brain diseases, provide antioxidative mechanisms, enhance conduction or signaling of the nerves, and get rid of body toxins.

Thus, the cod liver oil can help prevent dementia, amnesia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Delirium, Schizophrenia, and others.

The same is through with kids. Vitamin D in the liver oils can help prevent Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism with kids.

Prevent Cancer

Vitamin D in the cod liver oil can regulate the growth of the cells in the body. Calcitriol, which is an active form of Vitamin D can help reduce progression of cancer by slowing the development of new blood vessels in cancerous tissues.

Cod liver oil can prevent breast cancer. It can have a proapoptotic and antiproliferative effect on the cancerous cells found in the breasts. As a result, it can decrease the risk of developing a tumor.

It can also increase killing of the cancer cell and reduce metastases. Indeed, Vitamin D can influence in 200 human genes.

Prevent Coronary Artery disease

Studies show that regular intake of cod liver oil can prevent several coronary artery diseases such as angina, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and others. Ingestion of 1.5 grams of unsaturated fatty acids each day will result to decrease progression of coronary diseases.

In addition, the oil can help decrease the triglycerides level in the blood. Triglycerides are a type of fat that can affect the heart and expose it to several heart ailments.

The oil can lower the symptoms of high blood pressure and eliminate the chances of experiencing atherosclerosis or the arteries becoming stiff.

Thus, if regular medication plus cod liver oil is consumed, it could possibly reverse the medical condition and reduce the risk of diseases.

Prevent Macular Degeneration

The Omega-3 Fatty Acids that can be found in the cod liver oil can promote good eye health and prevent macular degeneration or the loss of eyesight, especially for old age. In addition, it also contains carotenoids and Vitamin A which is good for the eyesight.

However, there are more studies to be conducted to prove the benefit of cod liver oil in preventing Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Promote Healthy pregnancy

Pregnant moms who are deficient in Vitamin D are at great risk of having preeclampsia and needing to undergo Cesarean section. In addition, pregnant mothers who have low Vitamin D are at risk of having bacterial vaginosis and gestational diabetes.

Thus, the cod liver oil can help pregnant women have a healthy pregnancy and be able to deliver the child healthily.

Reduce the risk of having diabetes

Studies show that there is an inverse relationship between the risk of having Type 2 Diabetes and blood concentrations of Vitamin D. People who have Type 2 Diabetes have insufficient levels of Vitamin D, which prevents insulin secretion and tolerance on glucose.

In another study by Medical News Today, infants who received 2,000 I.U. per day of Vitamin D had a lower chance of having Type 1 Diabetes as they grow up, decrease the weight, and control insulin levels.

Repair wounds

Studies show that when cod liver oil is applied on wounds, it will accelerate its repair and heal it. Applying 25% of cod liver ointment will heal the wound compared to saline solutions.

Treat Arthritis

In a study done by researchers from Germany, it has been found out that patients rheumatoid arthritis can experience a decrease in the pain of their stiff joints and minimize swelling through ingesting cod liver oil.

In addition, in a study done by Cardiff University, in the United Kingdom, those who use the cod liver oil can help reduce the pain from osteoarthritis. It reduces the enzymes linked to cartilage damage and pain brought about by osteoarthritis.

Treat Tuberculosis and Other Respiratory Diseases

Cod liver is an effective option to treat tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases according to a study. It can prevent asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, fibrosis, and others; when consumed on a regular basis.

In sum, the cod liver oil is the right kind of fat for our body. It can boost the immune system and increase the vitamin and mineral absorption. Fat is essential and it can make one feel satiated. It can make the sugar levels in the blood remain stable. With this, the brain is fueled with fat and it can function optimally.

Possible Side Effects

In general, the cod liver oil is safe. However, there are some who experience side effects after consuming it.

First, the oil has a fishy aftertaste and may cause bad breath, belching, and heartburn. Thus, it is highly recommended to take the cod liver oil after meals to prevent such side effects.

Second, if the cod liver oil is consumed in large amounts, then it can potentially cause poisonings such as dioxins, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other contaminants; according to American Journal of Cardiology.

Third, high dosage of cod liver oil can cause blood clotting and increase chances of bleeding. The oil can prevent coronary disease because it thins the blood by slowing blood clotting. However, lowering blood clotting can also increase bleeding and bruising. Thus, if you see signs of bleeding, consult a physician immediately.

Lastly, cod liver oil can possibly raise levels of blood sugar. This might possibly occur since the body converts the Omega-3 Fatty acids to sugars. Thus, if you have diabetes, consult a doctor first before taking a liver oil product.

Recommended Dosage

The dosage of cod liver oil depends upon your condition.If you wish to lower triglycerides level and lower high blood pressure, take 20 mL of the oil each day. For high cholesterol, take 30 mL of cod liver oil per day.

Meanwhile, for children ages 2 and below, you can give them 1/4 teaspoon of the oil each day. For kids 3 and above, 1/2 teaspoon each day, while kids 6 and above give them 2/3 to 3/4 teaspoon each day.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, and having other medical conditions, take caution in taking cod liver oil supplements and be sure to consult your doctors first.


In sum, the fermented cod liver oil is an innovative product that helps to boost the health of each human being. Studies have found out that it brings various benefits, however, caution must be taken to maximize the results brought by the product.

Cod liver oil is not palatable by nature, thus, companies manufactured capsules that offers flavored cod liver oils. However, it is important to learn the features of the product you’re buying so you can save money by buying for one.

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