The cardiovascular system

Intake of cod liver oil associated with lower blood pressure among elderly people


The Icelandic Medical Journal 10/2012 publishes a study on dietary habits and their association with blood pressure among elderly Icelandic people.

Objective: Prevalence of hypertension, which is the most common risk factor for cardiovascular disease in elderly people, increases with age. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between diet and blood pressure in elderly Icelanders, with focus on cod liver oil, and to compare their diet to dietary guidelines.

Material and methods: Diet was assessed using three-day weighed food records and blood pressure was measured after a 12-hour-fast in 236, 65-91 years old, Icelanders living in the capital area of Iceland. 99 men (42%) and 137 women (58%) participated in the study.

Results: According to Nordic nutrition recommendations, intake of nutrients was above lower intake levels among the majority of participants. However, 19% were under this level for vitamin-D, 13% for iodine, 17% of men for vitamin-B6, and 26% and 12% of men and women, respectively, for iron. Systolic blood pressure was inversely associated with cod liver oil intake, even when adjusted for age, body mass index, gender, and antihypertensive medications (P=0.01). Intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids correlated with blood pressure in a similar way. Other dietary factors were not associated with blood pressure.

Conclusion: The results indicate that intake of cod liver oil is associated with lower blood pressure among elderly people and may therefore have beneficial effects on health. A notable proportion of participants was at risk of vitamin D, vitamin B6, iodine, and iron deficiency.

Key words: diet, elderly, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-3, cod liver oil, blood pressure, hypertension.

Correspondence: Atli Arnarson,

Authors: Arnarson A (1), Geirsdottir OG (2,5), Ramel A (1,5), Jonsson PV (2,3,4), Steingrimsdottir L (1,5), Thorsdottir I (1,5)


(1) Unit for Nutrition Research, Landspítali National University Hospital, (2) The Icelandic Gerontological Research Center, (3) Faculty of medcine University of Iceland, (4) Department of Geriatrics, Landspítali National University Hospital, (5) Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Iceland.

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