Fish liver and seagull eggs, vitamin D-rich foods with a shadow: results from the Norwegian Fish and Game Study

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2012 Mar;56(3):388-98. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100395. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


Scope: Fish liver, fish liver oil, oily fish and seagull eggs have been major sources of vitamin D for the coastal population of Norway. They also provide dioxin and polychlorinated dioxin-like compounds (dl-compounds), which may interfere with vitamin D homeostasis. We investigated whether serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) might be compromised by concomitant intake of dl-compounds.

Methods and results: We studied 182 adults participating in the Norwegian Fish and Game Study. Participants who consumed fish liver and/or seagull eggs had higher dl-compound intake and blood concentrations than non-consumers (p < 0.001). Vitamin D intake was higher (p < 0.001), whereas serum 25(OH)D was lower (p = 0.029) in consumers than in non-consumers. Among non-consumers, vitamin D intake was associated with serum 25(OH)D (β=1.06; 95% CI: 0.48, 1.63). This association was weaker among consumers (β = 0.52; 95% CI: -0.05, 1.08), but strengthened when adjusted for retinol intake (β = 0.66; 95% CI: 0.12, 1.21). The association between vitamin D intake and serum 25(OH)D did not seem to be compromised by intake of dl-compounds.

Conclusion: To secure adequate vitamin D status while keeping the intake of dioxins and dl-polychlorinated biphenyls low, a healthy diet should include both supplemental vitamin D and oily fish. Despite high nutrient content, dietary fish liver and seagull eggs should be restricted, due to dl-compounds and possible vitamin A-D antagonism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Charadriiformes*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diet
  • Dioxins / analysis
  • Dioxins / metabolism
  • Dioxins / toxicity
  • Eggs*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Fishes*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / metabolism
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / toxicity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / analysis
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamins / analysis


  • Dioxins
  • Fish Oils
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls