I’ve been wanting to write a post about Cod Liver Oil since the beginning of November. I received my bottle of Green Pasture Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend the first week of November. I was nervous. Cod Liver Oil, it just sounds nasty. I read a bunch of reviews before I made my purchase. Based on the reviews I decided to buy the “Cinnamon Tingle” flavor.
There were lots of suggestions on how to take the cod liver oil. Most suggestions were focused on speed and efficiency – be fast and wash it down with some liquid and you won’t even taste it. The speed and efficiency suggestions did not sound encouraging. It’s surprising I even bought it but I have been reading (forever) how great cod liver oil is and how when combined with high fat butter oil it’s practically a miracle potion. At least that’s what Dr. Westin A. Price believed and the current literature at the Westin A. Price Foundation continues to support that notion. I dove in, who doesn’t love a miracle potion?!
Now, to be clear, the reason I bought the “Cinnamon Tingle” was because there were reviews that said it actually tasted good. They continued to suggest speed and efficiency when taking it IF you didn’t like the taste but there were definitely people who did like the taste. My fingers were crossed.
When my bottle arrived I did as instructed in the reviews and put it in the fridge. That was supposedly to make it easier to grab a serving size. Once it chills up the consistency is like apple butter, firm but not hard. Reviewers said the best way to take it was to let it chill then use a knife and scrape out 1/2 teaspoon to a teaspoon and slide it off the knife onto your tongue.
My bottle was chilled and I was ready to give it a try. The first thing I did was smell it. Much to my surprise it smelled pretty good. I then used my knife and scraped out about 1/2 teaspoon, maybe less for my taste test. YUM! It tasted great. I didn’t get anything but cinnamon. A lot of reviewers likened the taste to Big Red Gum (a childhood favorite of mine). I agreed, there was something reminiscent of Big Red Gum but that wasn’t quite it. My brother-in-law nailed the flavor – RED HOTS. That’s what it tastes like if you let it linger on your tongue – RED HOTS! Also a childhood favorite of mine. Anyway, I can’t tell you how happy I am that I found this great nutritional product that I LOVE. It’s like a sweet treat. When I first got it my husband had to tell me to layoff the cod liver oil. I kept going to the fridge to get a little taste. I did reel myself in and now I only take it once or twice a day. I try to take about 1 tsp. Sometimes I’ll take it all at once and other times I’ll split the amount and have it twice during the day.
You may be wondering what is so great about Cod Liver Oil. I’m going to link to all of the articles at the Westin A. Price Foundation at the end of this post but I’ll try to sum up some of the good stuff here. The following information is taken directly from the Westin A. Price articles. First I’ll cover what’s in Cod Liver Oil and then discuss processing/manufacturing to explain why not all cod liver oil is created equal.
First, what’s in cod liver oil or more importantly, what’s in the butter oil/fermented high vitamin cod liver oil that has become part of my daily life. This took some investigating. High-vitamin fermented cod liver oil is sold as food so there isn’t a label with vitamin info. The people at the Westin A. Price foundation have done some testing to determine the approximate levels of vitamin A and D in a one teaspoon serving. There is also information about the amount of EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids) in the fermented cod liver oil over at the Green Pasture FAQ page.
- 1 teaspoon of high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil contains 9500 IU of vitamin A and 1950 IU of vitamin D, a ratio of about 5:1 – important. “the ratio of these two vitamins may be of paramount importance in order to extract optimal health benefits” – “most but not all cod liver oil does NOT supply vitamins A and D in the right ratio… adults need about 1000 IUs of vitamin D daily to avoid vitamin A toxicity.” The recommended brands of cod liver oil on the Westin A. Price website provide the proper ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D. – see quote below
- Using the calculations from the Green Pasture FAQ page, it looks like there is approximately 750 mg of EPA and 500 mg of DHA in 1 teaspoon of the Cinnamon Tingle butter oil/high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil (recommended daily amounts of combined EPA & DHA for healthy individuals ranges from 250 mg – 800 mg, 1 grams for people with heart disease and up to 2-4 grams under a doctors supervision for people with high triglycerides – source)
- vitamin K2 – not sure of amounts for this but it comes from the butter oil part of the mix and it’s why the butter oil/cod liver oil blend is so AWESOME. (vitamins A, D and E are also found in butter fat).
conclusion reached by the Weston A. Price Foundation and the research of Chris Masterjohn; we have continually pointed out that vitamins A and D work together and that without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. We do not recommend Nordic Naturals regular cod liver oil or any brand of cod liver oil that is low in vitamin D.
- Vitamin A – “According to Dr. Price, neither protein, minerals nor water-soluble vitamins can be utilized by the body without vitamin A from animal sources”. The natural vitamin A found in cod liver oil is preformed vitamin A, the same type of vitamin A found in organ meats, butterfat, and egg yolks. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant. It protects our bodies from free radicals and pollutants, two things that many believe can lead to cancer. (Fallon, 2001)
- Vitamin D – needed for calcium and phosphorus absorption so essential for strong bones, healthy teeth and normal growth. (Fallon, 2001)
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – part of every cell membrane, a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids compromises cell function. EFAs control the shape and flexibility of the cell membrane. This is important because the membrane needs to be fluid in order to allow nutrients to flow in and out of the cell, and for blood to be able to flow through blood vessels. DHA and EPA are also necessary for proper nerve signal transmission (memory, concentration, cognitive ability, muscle coordination and strength) as well as regulating inflammation (Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and omega-6s are inflammatory. The SAD is rich in omega6s and deficient in omega 3s – making it pro-inflammatory). *Deficiencies of DHA and EPA have been linked to ADHA, depression, increased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia while chronic inflammation appears to lead to illnesses like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, IBS, psoriasis, eczema, allergies, fibromyalgia, lupus and MS. sourcehow
- Vitamin K2 – “Vitamin K2 is the substance that makes the vitamin A and vitamin D dependent proteins come to life.” Vitamin K2 is very different from vitamin K1 – “whereas K1 is preferentially used by the liver to activate blood clotting proteins, K2 is preferentially used by the other tissues to place calcium where it belongs, in the bones and teeth, and keep it out of where it does not belong, in the soft tissues.” (source)
First of all, not all cod liver oil is great or even good. It comes down to processing/manufacturing. There are four categories of cod liver oil for sale today (quoted from Cod Liver Oil Manufacturing):
- Fully cleaned and deodorized with nothing added back in. These oils have a reduced vitamin A content and virtually no vitamin D. This type of cod liver oil might be appropriate for life guards and others who spend a lot of time in the sun, and who want the benefits of vitamin A, EPA and DHA without overdosing on vitamin D. But since vitamin D works synergetically with vitamin A, this would not be a good choice for most of us.
- Non-deodorized with a fair amount of natural vitamin A and D left. According to the company website, Garden of Life cod liver oil falls in this category. It contains 500-1500 IU vitamin A per gram (2500-7500 IU per teaspoon) and 100-175 IU vitamin D per gram (500-875 IU per teaspoon).
- Fully cleaned and deodorized cod liver oil with synthetic vitamins added back in. Most of the cod liver oils on the market fall into this category. (You’ll need to check with the individual manufacturer to verify whether their cod liver oil falls in this category.) These vary in dose from about 1100 to 4600 IU vitamin A per teaspoon and 180 to 460 IU vitamin D per teaspoon.
- Fully cleaned and deodorized, with natural vitamins added back in, standardized at 2340 IU vitamin A per gram (11,700 IU per teaspoon) and 234 IU vitamin D (1170 IU per teaspoon). This is the type of cod liver oil sold as Blue Ice and by Radiant Life and Dr. Ron’s UltraPure.
Green Pasture Cod Liver Oil is actually called “Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend”. If you go to Dr. Ron’s website you will see that he sells Green Pasture products. If you are interested in buying Green Pasture cod liver oil just go to their website: www.greenpasture.org
Due to manufacturing processes the Westin A. Price Foundation has a specific list of Cod Liver Oils that they recommend. They do not recommend brands of cod liver oil that have been stripped of all natural vitamins during processing. The recommended brands are listed as “Best” or “Good”. Recommendations on the “best” list are high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil and high-vitamin cod liver oil with natural vitamins added. The “good” list consists of processed cod liver oils with synthetic vitamins in the right proportions.
Available in the United States:
#1 on the Best list is Green Pasture Products: Blue Ice High-Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil
#1 on the Good list is Carlson Soft Gel Cod Liver Oil Super 1,000 mg capsules.
To see the complete lists got to Cod Liver Oil Basics and Recommendations.
Well, there you have it. If you’re thinking about adding cod liver oil to your diet I would highly recommend you check out the GreenPasture.org website. Their products are not inexpensive but, I believe, particularly in this case, you get what you pay for.
One last quote. This is from the blog CaveGirlEats.com. If you haven’t been to this blog you need to check it out. Excellent and very funny writing with tons of great information. One of my favorite places. I do believe CaveGirlEats.com was the first place I read about Green Pasture Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend. That was almost a year ago. It took me a year to work up to trying it – sad.
The addition of the Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend from Green Pasture helped me overcome some lingering skin problems. It’s a health powerhouse, whether you want to build muscle, overcome fertility problems, or just be healthier overall. I use the blend daily – and I even put a balm inspired by that blend on my skin (my N=1 experiment indicates it’s had the same effects as doctor-prescribed topical retinoids! Whether that’s medically possible or not – who cares? It’s amazing!)
Thanks to the fantastic research conducted by Weston A. Price and the Weston A. Price Foundation, we now understand that the synergy between vitamins A and D from Cod Liver Oil is basically Real Food Magic. Add butter oil (a rich source ofVitamin K2) and it’s pretty much Health Wizardry.
This is literally my number one favorite super-food. And I want EVERYONE to try it!
LISTEN TO ME REAL QUICK: Green Pasture is the only brand I know that produces their Cod Liver Oil in a manner that preserves the natural vitamins that are needed for it to produce its intended effect. It’s the ONLY BRAND I RECOMMEND!
My husband accused me of being a Cod Liver Oil pusher at Thanksgiving. This post has made it official, I am a cod liver oil pusher!
Eat Well, Feel Good, Have Fun!
Fallon, S., Enig, M. G., Murray, K., & Dearth, M. (2001). Nourishing traditions: The cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: NewTrends Pub.
Amy White MS HNC
I am a holistic nutrition counselor and believe real food is the true path to wellness. If you are interested in learning more about me and how I can help you, please see my story.
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