If you get a lot of sunlight exposure for vitamin D or are already taking high doses of vitamin A, you may want to limit your use of cod liver oil, as it is relatively high in these nutrients. In cases like these, a good fish oil will be a better choice as it contains the important omega-3s EPA and DHA, without the vitamin D and vitamin A.
When Should You Take Cod Liver Oil?
Many people have good results taking cod liver oil more frequently in the winter months, when they are getting less sun exposure for vitamin D, and less frequently in the summer.
Personally, I alternate taking cod liver oil and fish oil, having cod liver oil 4 to 5 times a week in winter with fish oil on the other days. In summer I cut back to two or three times a week with cod liver oil and have fish oil more frequently. This is what works for me. I’ve noticed a definite improvement in my health since taking cod liver oil. And have intrigued most of my close friends and family in it enough to have made many of them converts too.
Regarding taking cod liver oil in summer, something which is sometimes not advised. While I tried to get outdoors in the sun fairly regularly, realistically, how many of us get that much sun exposure, even in summer. If you are someone who gets quite a tan in summer, or lives at a warmer latitude, you might be better off having cod liver oil only in the winter and even then less frequently.
Cod liver oil is best taken with food. I like to take mine at the same time as my goji berries, or other foods high in carotenoids, since they are fat soluble. Additionally, since cod liver oil is high in vitamin A, there is little likelihood that the carotenoids will need to be converted to retinol, so they can instead be preserved for use as antioxidants (which is what they’re best for anyway).
Cod Liver Oil Dosage
Cod liver oils are not all the same and some cheaper versions can have inferior nutrients, be lower in omega-3s and have the wrong balance of vitamin A to vitamin D. Given this, it’s very important to use a high quality cod liver oil.
The recommended dosage for cod liver oil is usually 1 or 2 teaspoons a day, or a corresponding number of capsules (check the product label as capsules can vary greatly in strength and cheaper products are not always good value for what you get). Importantly, when you read the nutritional information, this should provide at least 1 g of combined EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
Personally, I’m looking for around 2 grams of omega-3s a day from my cod liver oil. At the same time, you probably don’t want to go too high in Vitamin A. This is not a problem with a brand like Carlsons cod liver oil, which is high in DHA, EPA and Vitamin D, while having only a moderate amount of Vitamin A.
With regards to vitamin D and vitamin A, it seems the RDA of 200 IU for vitamin D may be too low to provide many of the health benefits associated with vitamin D. Most good cod liver oils will have at least 400 IU of Vitamin D and some 800 IU or more per dose.
The important number to consider is the ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D. Many people who have spent a lot of time looking into these two vitamins believe this should be at least 10 to 1 of vitamin A to vitamin D, and that a ratio of 5 to 1 or lower may be even better.
So, with this in mind, if the cod liver oil you’re looking at has around 3000 IU of vitamin A per dose, you’d be looking for at least 300 IU of vitamin D and preferably more like 600 IU for a five to one ratio. Cod liver oil with very high vitamin A, without the vitamin D to work with it, is probably worth avoiding.
Finally, a good cod liver oil will usually have some natural source vitamin E to prevent oxidization. And if your using the oil itself rather than cod liver capsules, you’ll probably appreciate some orange or lemon oil or similarly nice flavor added to improve the taste. The one I take tastes mildly of lemon and is not fishy at all.
Cod liver oil should ideally come in a dark bottle for liquid and be stored in a cool, dark place and refrigerated once opened. Use it within a couple of months of opening. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re using it properly and, if you’ve never had cod liver oil before, I’d be surprised if you don’t notice a difference in your health and energy before too long.
I’d be interested to hear from anyone who takes cod liver oil regularly as to what dosage you find works best for you. If you’ve never tried cod liver oil before, please have a read of some of the amazing health benefits when you get a chance. The best cod liver oil brands are also covered in the previous page on Where to Buy Cod Liver Oil Online.