Cod Liver Oil for Kids: Health Benefits Vs Side Effects


Some of the health benefits of cod liver oil for kids include reduced risk of type 1 diabetes, a good source of vitamins A and D, accelerates wound healing, helps in healing gastric ulcers, improves cognitive functions in kids, can help in reducing depression, can treat upper respiratory tract diseases and also strengthens the immune system.

Cod liver oil has long been used as a nutrient supplement. Since the late 1700s cod liver oil has been used as a remedy against rickets and by mid 1800s cod liver has been established as a viable source of vitamins A and D. It got wide spread attention during that time, physicians in European countries started recommending cod liver oil.

Can I give cod liver oil to my kid?

Cod liver oil, the name suggests is the oil extract from the liver of the cod fish. The fish belongs to the genus Gadus. The most important species of cod is the Atlantic cod. This fish can be found in colder waters and deep sea regions of the North Atlantic. This fish is found commonly throughout the United Kingdom.

Not only during the 18th or 19th century did the popularity of this fish had grown, but historically it has been fished and sold all over Europe for many hundreds of years. Many European countries such as England, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Belgium, etc were actively engaged in the trade of cod fish for more than a millennium now, starting perhaps during the time of Vikings I.e., 800 AD.

Benefits of Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil Benefits

Source: Blossomjar

Historically, cod liver oil was consumed by the Vikings during the winter months. As the day times were shorter and night times were longer and it was the fishing season. It was observed that the livers of the fish stayed fresh and hence, they became a very good food source. The livers were cooked so that the oil would drip. This dripping oil was collected and consumed. Fish livers were eaten dipped in the liver oil.

During the early 20th century, where America was catching up with industries on one hand, children started developing rickets and it was found that cod liver oil was the best remedy for it. And hence, during the decades followed cod liver oil had become the most popular dietary supplement in the United States.

8 Health benefits of Cod Liver Oil for Children

Some of the health benefits of cod liver oil includes:

  • Reduces the risk of Type 1 diabetes

A study in Norway in 2003 showed that using cod liver oil during the 1st year of infancy can reduce the onset of type 1 diabetes in children. It is believed that by consuming cod liver oil, the onset could be delayed or completely removed by the anti-inflammatory effects of long-chain n-3 fatty acids. In the present times, type 1 diabetes is a major concern not only for parents but also for government around the world. And this information can be a real breakthrough.

  • Remedy for Vitamin D deficiency

Cod liver oil is the man-made food supplement which has the highest concentration of vitamin D, which is vital for the proper bone development in children. Lack of vitamin D is associated with the development of rickets and there is good amount of scientific evidence suggesting that cod liver oil, being a good source of vitamin D is very good for bone development.

  • Accelerates wound healing

One study has shown that topical application of cod liver oil can accelerate wound healing. The wound healing capability of cod liver oil was noted to be much faster that of standard treatments for wounds. The experiment deduced that vitamin A played a vital role in wound healing.

  • Heals gastric ulcers

Apart from healing regular wounds, cod liver oil can also help in healing gastric ulcerations. One study showed that induced gastric ulcers when treated with cod liver oil, showed a significant improvement in ulcer healing activity.

  • Helps in Brain Development

Cod liver oil is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids which include ALA, EPA and DHA. These fatty acids play a vital role in brain development, particularly for infants and during pregnancy has been duly noted by scientists. One study has confirmed that consuming foods which are high in Omega 3 fatty acids during the last trimester and also during first postnatal months, saw an increase in cognitive functions when the kids were 4 years of age.

  • Reduces depression

Consumption of cod liver oil is not just good for bodily health and brain health, but it is also helpful in improving mental health as well. A study has confirmed that those who consume cod liver oil had reduced chances of falling into depression than others.

  • Strengthens the immune system

Another surprising role of cod liver oil is its property to strengthen the immune system. Children are particularly susceptible to various seasonal diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. The onset of such seasonal diseases or viral or bacterial infections can be reduced greatly by giving cod liver oil. Vitamin D present in cod liver oil not only helps in strengthening bones, but it plays the role of immunomodulator. Which means, it stimulates various immune cells.

  • Treats upper respiratory tract infections

Cod liver oil can also be very helpful in reducing upper respiratory tract infections in infants and toddlers. A random study noted less visits to pediatricians complaining upper respiratory tract infections, where parents whose toddlers were given cod liver oil.

 Is Cod Liver Oil Safe for my Kid?

These days there are certain side effects or safety concerns that have been noted with cod liver oil. Some of them include:

  • The after taste of cod liver oil: Cod liver oil is generally taken in the form of capsules. The capsules themselves give out fishy smell and the after taste can be much worse. Although, this itself is not a serious side effect, many people feel overwhelmed by the fishy after taste.
  • Gastric disturbances can occur: After taking cod liver oil pills, one might feel nausea, bloating, stomachache and heartburn. Sometimes, an overdose of these pills can lead to diarrhea.
  • Vitamin D overdose: Taking excess of cod liver oil can lead to vitamin D overdose. Vitamin D overdose can lead to high or extreme dehydration. Extreme dehydration can be very dangerous and the symptoms include dry mouth, lack of urination, rapid heartbeat, dry skin which is hard to bounce back, etc. Sometimes, dehydration can be fatal.
  • Daily Recommendation for Vitamin D: The daily recommendation for vitamin D for infants aged between 0-6 months is 25 μg, 7-12 months 38 μg, 1-3 years 63 μg, 4-8 years 75 μg, 9+ years 100 μg and pregnant and lactating women 100 μg.
  • Vitamin A overdose: Vitamin A is the other vitamin that is found in huge amounts. That is generally a good sign but even vitamin A overdose can cause some serious problems. Some of which can include abnormal softening of skull bone especially in infants and children, bone pain and swelling, bulging of the soft spot on infants’ skulls, double vision, dizziness, gastric mucosal calcinosis, poor weight gain in infants and children, etc and more.
  • Daily Recommendation for Vitamin A: The upper limit for daily tolerable vitamin A intake for infants aged between 0-12 months is 600 μg, toddlers aged between 1-3 years 600 μg, children aged between 4-8 years 900 μg and for women during pregnancy and lactation, aged 19- 50 years between 2800 and 3000 μg.

With these side effects, it can be advised to take cod liver oil or cod liver pills only consulting your doctor. Your doctor who knows yours and your kids’ medical history is the right person to advise you.

Nutrition in Cod Liver Oil for kids

According to the National Nutrient Database from the US Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in Cod Liver Oil includes

NutritionValue Per 100 gNutritionValue Per 100 g
Energy902 kcalTotal Lipid (fat)100
Vitamin A, (RAE)30000 ugVitamin A (IU)100000 IU
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)350 ugVitamin D10000 IU


Cod Liver oil for Children
Article Name
Cod Liver oil for Children
Read the benefits of cod liver oil for kids and the safe effects associated with it.