At some point in our lives, we experience acne, a common skin condition characterized by the appearance of pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads on the skin. Although it is most commonly associated with adolescence, acne can also occur in adults.

Many treatment options are available for acne, including topical creams, oral medications, and home remedies. Cod liver oil is a home remedy that has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including acne.

But does it really work? Learn more if cod liver oil is effective for acne in this article.

What is Cod Liver Oil, and How Does it Work?

Cod liver oil is one of the rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids that comes from the liver of Atlantic cod. This type of fish oil is associated with health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation [1 2]. Additionally, vitamins A and D are present, offering various other health benefits. 

Codfish liver, which is claimed to contain a variety of nutrients good for human health, is used to make cod liver oil, as the name suggests. Although cod liver oil has long been used to strengthen the immune system, it wasn’t until recently that it started to gain recognition as a safe, all-natural acne treatment.

What can Cod Liver Oil Do For Acne? 

Here are the components in cod liver oil that have shown promising benefits in acne treatment and in preventing future breakouts. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which are critical for treating acne, are also present in cod liver oil. Getting enough vitamin D can be beneficial for those with cystic acne since these fatty acids stop skin inflammations.

Vitamin D

Cod liver oil is also a great source of Vitamin D. A study in the Journal of Experimental Dermatology shows that vitamin D is good for human skin [3]. In addition to having antioxidant and non-comedogenic properties, it can also combat free radicals in the body, preventing further skin aging. Non-comedogenic properties mean that it does not clog the pores. 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is also high in cod liver oil. Retinoic acid, a substance found in vitamin A that supports cell health, also suggests that getting enough vitamin A will help our body’s cells regenerate. In other words, new cells will be used to replace the destroyed ones in your body.

As a result, acne scars and skin blemishes will eventually fade. Vitamin A also lessens sebum production, which helps to prevent acne breakouts from developing. Controlling sebum production reduces the likelihood of skin pore clogging.

It’s important to note that vitamin A in cod liver oil acts more efficiently than vitamin supplements.

Other Health Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

Here are other science-backed health benefits of cod liver oil.

May Reduce Joint Pain and Swelling

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune illness that causes joint degeneration.

Rheumatoid arthritis currently has no known cure. However, research suggests that cod liver oil may lessen joint pain and improve signs of the disease, such as joint stiffness and swelling [4 5]. For three months, 43 participants in one study took a daily dose of a 1-gram capsule of cod liver oil. The study showed promising results as it lessened morning stiffness, pain, and swelling, which are common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms [4]. 

May Support Eye Health

Cod liver oil’s omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A have been reported to fight against inflammatory eye disorders [6 7]. Omega-3 fatty acids help lower glaucoma risk factors such as eye pressure and nerve damage [8 9 10].

Researchers found that persons who ingested the most vitamin A had a significantly lower risk of glaucoma than those who consumed the least vitamin A in one trial of 3,502 people aged 55 and older [6].

May Lower Heart Disease Risk

According to studies, those who regularly eat fish have a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease due to the omega-3 fatty acid content [11 12]. 

There is limited evidence that fish oil supplements, like cod liver oil, can prevent heart disease or strokes. However, some studies suggest that they may reduce risk factors for heart disease [13].

How Can I Use Cod Liver Oil to Treat Acne?

Although cod liver oil comes in different forms, liquid and capsule forms are the most widely used. You can consume cod liver oil internally in both gel capsules and liquid form. However, the oil must be refrigerated while in its liquid form. You can take up to one tablespoon of cod liver oil per day, though most people only take one to two teaspoons. Avoid consuming too much cod liver oil since too much vitamin A might be harmful to the body [14].

The use of topical cod liver oil creams or ointments is an option for people who do not enjoy the flavor of cod liver oil due to its potent and distinctive taste. Another alternative is to combine cod liver oil with honey or applesauce to neutralize the bitterness.

What are the Precautions for Using Cod Liver Oil for Acne?

Remember that because cod liver oil also acts as a blood thinner, it should be consumed in moderation. Be sure to consult your doctor if you take any blood pressure medications. Cod liver oil is not advisable for pregnant women since high vitamin A levels can harm the developing baby.

Bottomline

Fish oils, such as cod liver oil, offer health benefits and are also available in liquid or gel capsule form. Cod liver oil is easy to include in your diet and is high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D. These nutrients may be beneficial in treating acne and other bodily inflammations. Always exercise caution and only consume supplements in the recommended dosage when consuming cod liver oil.

Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.

Editorial References And Fact-Checking

  • Danielle Swanson, Robert Block, Shaker A. Mousa, Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life, Advances in Nutrition, Volume 3, Issue 1, January 2012, Pages 1–7, https://doi.org/10.3945/an.111.000893
  • Morris, M. C., Sacks, F., & Rosner, B. (1993, August 1). Does fish oil lower blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled trials. AHA Journals. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/01.cir.88.2.523
  • Mostafa WZ, Hegazy RA. Vitamin D and the skin: Focus on a complex relationship: A review. J Adv Res. 2015 Nov;6(6):793-804. doi: 10.1016/j.jare.2014.01.011. Epub 2014 Feb 8. PMID: 26644915; PMCID: PMC4642156.
  • Gruenwald J, Graubaum HJ, Harde A. Effect of cod liver oil on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Adv Ther. 2002 Mar-Apr;19(2):101-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02850059. PMID: 12069368.
  • Galarraga B, Ho M, Youssef HM, Hill A, McMahon H, Hall C, Ogston S, Nuki G, Belch JJ. Cod liver oil (n-3 fatty acids) as an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sparing agent in rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 May;47(5):665-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken024. Epub 2008 Mar 24. PMID: 18362100.
  • Ramdas WD, Wolfs RC, Kiefte-de Jong JC, Hofman A, de Jong PT, Vingerling JR, Jansonius NM. Nutrient intake and risk of open-angle glaucoma: the Rotterdam Study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2012 May;27(5):385-93. doi: 10.1007/s10654-012-9672-z. Epub 2012 Mar 30. PMID: 22461101; PMCID: PMC3374099.
  • Merle B, Delyfer MN, Korobelnik JF, Rougier MB, Colin J, Malet F, Féart C, Le Goff M, Dartigues JF, Barberger-Gateau P, Delcourt C. Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and the risk for age-related maculopathy: the Alienor Study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Jul 29;52(8):6004-11. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-7254. PMID: 21705687.
  • Nguyen CT, Bui BV, Sinclair AJ, Vingrys AJ. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids decrease intraocular pressure with age by increasing aqueous outflow. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Feb;48(2):756-62. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-0585. PMID: 17251475.
  • Mancino M, Ohia E, Kulkarni P. A comparative study between cod liver oil and liquid lard intake on intraocular pressure on rabbits. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1992 Mar;45(3):239-43. doi: 10.1016/0952-3278(92)90120-8. PMID: 1589451.
  • Schnebelen C, Pasquis B, Salinas-Navarro M, Joffre C, Creuzot-Garcher CP, Vidal-Sanz M, Bron AM, Bretillon L, Acar N. A dietary combination of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids is more efficient than single supplementations in the prevention of retinal damage induced by elevation of intraocular pressure in rats. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2009 Sep;247(9):1191-203. doi: 10.1007/s00417-009-1094-6. Epub 2009 May 13. PMID: 19437028.
  • Raatz SK, Silverstein JT, Jahns L, Picklo MJ. Issues of fish consumption for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. Nutrients. 2013 Mar 28;5(4):1081-97. doi: 10.3390/nu5041081. PMID: 23538940; PMCID: PMC3705336.
  • Hu FB, Bronner L, Willett WC, et al. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women. JAMA. 2002;287(14):1815–1821. doi:10.1001/jama.287.14.1815
  • Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, Summerbell CD, Ness AR, Moore HJ, Worthington HV, Durrington PN, Higgins JP, Capps NE, Riemersma RA, Ebrahim SB, Davey Smith G. Risks and benefits of omega 3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review. BMJ. 2006 Apr 1;332(7544):752-60. doi: 10.1136/bmj.38755.366331.2F. Epub 2006 Mar 24. PMID: 16565093; PMCID: PMC1420708.
  • Penniston KL, Tanumihardjo SA. The acute and chronic toxic effects of vitamin A. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):191-201. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/83.2.191. PMID: 16469975.
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Charish Luzuriaga, RDN

Charish is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RDN) who really enjoys helping her readers understand their dietary habits better. She has impressive experience and knowledge about the nutritional values of various foods and ingredients and enjoys informing her readers about popular diets, supplements, and herbs. Charish harnesses her nutritional expertise to inspire and empower people to make positive, healthy changes through what they eat (and drink!). LinkedIn

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  • Charish is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RDN) who really enjoys helping her readers understand their dietary habits better. She has impressive experience and knowledge about the nutritional values of various foods and ingredients and enjoys informing her readers about popular diets, supplements, and herbs. Charish harnesses her nutritional expertise to inspire and empower people to make positive, healthy changes through what they eat (and drink!). LinkedIn

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Charish is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RDN) who really enjoys helping her readers understand their dietary habits better. She has impressive experience and knowledge about the nutritional values of various foods and ingredients and enjoys informing her readers about popular diets, supplements, and herbs. Charish harnesses her nutritional expertise to inspire and empower people to make positive, healthy changes through what they eat (and drink!). LinkedIn