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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : Is it safe to take cod liver oil during pregnancy?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

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April 30, 2012
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A:

Yes, a small amount of cod liver oil is safe.

But you need to be careful. Cod liver oil is rich in vitamin A. And too much vitamin A can be harmful to you and your baby.

The recommended amount of vitamin A for pregnant women is about 7,500 units or 750 micrograms of vitamin A. Twice that much should be okay. But there is no evidence to suggest that a greater intake of vitamin A is better than what is recommended.

If you already take a prenatal vitamin and eat a balanced diet, you are getting enough vitamin A. If you still wanted to take cod liver oil in liquid or capsule form, be sure to read the vitamin A dosage on the product label. Some companies add extra vitamin A and other vitamins to cod liver oil and cod liver capsules.

By the way: if you were considering cod liver oil as a way to get more vitamin D, then just take a plain vitamin D supplement instead. An example is a daily 1,000 IU vitamin D3 supplement.

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