Should people with gout stay away from cod liver oil?

This Week In The HSI Healthier Talk Community

Sometimes doing the right thing can create problems.

For instance, cod liver oil is an excellent source of vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and other key nutrients. But codfish is high in protein, which makes it one of the primary triggers for gout.

That’s the dilemma that prompts this question from an HSI member named Justin. “I have read that people with gout should stay clear of certain kinds of fish eg sardines because of the purine content. I’ve just seen the comment that such people should stay clear of fish altogether. My question is this: does this mean avoiding cod liver oil? Does cod liver oil contain purine?”

Purine is the component of protein that produces uric acid. And as gout patients know only too well, an excess of uric acid is the villain that creates intense joint pain. Purine-rich foods include meat, beans, bread and many types of seafood.

When Justin posted his question on the Arthritis forum in the HSI Healthier Talk community he received this response from a member named JonB: “All shellfish are high in uric acid, as well as beer and red wine, so if you have gout stay away from those. I and many people have cured gout by just drinking 2 litres of water a day. Cod liver oil is not a problem for gout sufferers.”

For Justin, JonB’s note about cod liver oil is reassuring. Nevertheless, he should proceed with caution. Some reputable sources indicate that cod liver oil is not a problem for gout patients, while other sources warn that supplements of this oil may prompt uric acid production. But each case of gout is unique. Some typical gout triggers may not aggravate JonB’s condition, while Justin might be more sensitive to the same triggers.

A member named Harry adds a comment to this thread that has nothing to do with cod liver oil, but may provide gout patients with another preventive measure. Harry writes: “Want to reduce uric acids levels? Considering upping your intake of vitamin C.”

Harry’s note includes a link to a Healthnotes Newswire write up about a two-month study that examined the effects of vitamins C and E on 184 gout patients. Results showed that vitamin C – but not E – reduced uric acid levels by about 10 percent. Subjects in this study were given only 500 mg of vitamin C per day.

Other topics being discussed this week in the Healthier Talk community forums include:

  • Cancer: Prostate cancer test
  • Vision: Eye twitch
  • Memory: Study – exercise and new brain cells
  • General Health Topics: Trying to improve my severe hypertension
  • Arthritis: Deer velvet
  • Dental: Teeth whitening

To reach the HSI Healthier Talk community forums, just go to our web site at, choose “Forum,” and add your comments to the wide range of topics concerning health care and nutrition.