Cod Liver Oil Vs Fish Oil: Which is Better

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The discussion of whether to use cod liver oil vs fish oil has been going on for years, but there are a few key differences that may help you make the best choice.

Cod Liver Oil vs Fish Oil

The benefits of these two oils are the same, but the details of these two beneficial oils can vary. [1]


  • Cod liver oil may have varying levels of vitamins A, D, and F. [2]
  • After processing, fish oil contains almost no vitamins.
  • Both of these oils contain EPA and DHA, two forms of omega-3 fatty acids found in animal products.

Food Sources

  • As the name implies, cod liver oil is derived from the livers of cod, scientifically belonging to the Gadus genus. [3]
  • Fish oil can be derived from various different fish, including mackerel, anchovies, herring, and sardines.
  • Both of these oils are heavily processed, but the fish oil production method removes more of the nutrients.
An image of cod liver oil capsules vs fish oil capsules

Cod liver oil vs fish oil Photo Credit: Shutterstock


  • Cod liver oil and fish oil are both good for inflammatory conditions, as well as relieving arthritis and stimulating hair growth. [4]
  • Cod liver oil additionally is good for bone strength and vision health, due to the presence of vitamin A and D.
  • Cod liver oil is also associated with reducing the symptoms of acne and asthma.
  • Fish oil often has a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, making it more potent in protecting heart health.
  • Both oils are popular with bodybuilders, as they can help to stimulate muscle development. [5]

Which is Better?

Depending on your health goals, the higher omega-3 levels in fish oil may be more appealing to you, but when using cod liver oil, you will also be benefitting from a number of essential vitamins. Both options provide a number of health benefits and are considered safe to consume in medicinal amounts. Protection Status
About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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