Fish oil and cod liver oil both have different nutritional value and so offer different health benefits. Understanding this will help you make a better choice between both.
There are many people the world over, who have either fish oil or cod liver oil as a part of their daily food consumption. However, people are in a fix and want to know, which of the two is better for health and should be taken.
Both these oils contain beneficial elements for the human body. It will depend on the dietary habit and lifestyle of the person, which oil should be taken by that person.
Fish Oil Versus Cod Liver Oil
Role of Omega 3
Both fish oil and cod liver oil are rich in heart healthy omega 3 essential fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated fatty acids and are necessary to counter the level of omega 6 fats in the body. According to a study, most Americans have dangerously high levels of omega 6. Increasing the intake of omega 3 helps in reducing the harmful fats from the body.
Fish oil is derived from fatty fleshy cold water fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon.
Cod liver oil is obtained from white fish like cod and halibut.
Fish oil is rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids, however unlike cod liver oil it does not contain vitamin D. Vitamin D is present in the liver of the fish and fish oil that is made from the body of the fish, contains insignificant quantities of vitamin D in it.
It is rich in vitamin A and vitamin D along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are omega 3 essential fatty acids. The ratio of DHA to EPA is higher in cod liver oil, which is the opposite in fish oil.
Fish oil is beneficial as a dietary supplement for everyone above the age of four and who have sufficient exposure to sunlight. It is recommended for people who get a lot of sun exposure and/or who eat a lot of fish, which are naturally rich in vitamin D, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
If the person lives in an area, where the weather is warm all around the year and the skin is exposed to the sun, he should consume fish oil as against cod liver oil. Women, who are pregnant or are nursing during the summer months, should consume fish oil and not cod liver oil.
Cod liver oil is recommended that cod liver oil be taken in the winter months, when the person does not get sufficient amount of vitamin D from the sun. It is therefore also known as the 'sunshine vitamin'.
If cod liver oil is taken in summers by people living in the northern part of United States and Canada, there are chances of toxicity from excess accumulation of vitamin D from the sun, along with the dietary sources, vitamin supplements and cod liver oil.
At the same time, if the person lives in one of the southern states of United States, it is recommended, that they avoid using cod liver oil all year around. In other words, one must know, what is the right dosage of cod liver oil for himself.
Important to Note...
If you are going to start of with either cod liver oil or fish oil, you may want to consult your health care professional. If blood tests are recommended, it is good to get the blood tests done. In case the blood tests show the level of vitamin D to be greater than 50 ng/ml, you will be advised against taking cod liver oil.
Pregnant women should consult their obstetrician and gynecologist before taking cod liver as the vitamin content in they can cause toxicity. Vitamin A and D are both necessary for growth of the fetus but excessive amount of these vitamins can cause nausea, weakness, constipation, liver problems, etc.
In some cases it may cause birth defects and central nervous system disorders. Cod liver oil may contain contaminants like heavy metals, PCB, etc., therefore should be taken under medical supervision by pregnant women, nursing mothers and children.
Before one starts taking either fish oil or cod liver oil, it is recommended to consult a health care professional about the right dosage of EPA and DHA for every person. Taking the health of the person, illnesses and age of the person will the health care professional be able to prescribe the right dosage.
If you are on any medication, then it is important to let the health care professional know about the same, so that the medications do not react with the oil capsules.