The Search for the Perfect Cod Liver Oil

This morning for the first time (except for that time I couldn’t get my ear thermometer to stop beeping), I actually called the phone number on a product.  You see, I’m looking for the perfect cod liver oil.

Now some of you might be saying, Whoa, rewind! Why would you want cod liver oil? Isn’t that some WWII-era nutritional throwback?

Yes and no. Cod liver was widely held to be extremely healing in different parts of the world, right on up to say, the 1950s or ’60s. In the 1930s, Weston Price began to discover why it worked so well.  He found that it contains very high amounts of both Vitamin A and Vitamin D, in addition to those essential fatty acids (EFAs, like Omegas 3,6, and 9 that you hear so much about).  He also believed that Vitamins A and D were the most important ones to have as they act as activators and potentiators for all the other vitamins and minerals in your body.

But it matters very much that you consume them in the right ratio.  5:1 seems to be the best.  It’s also very important that A & D, wherever you get them from, be naturally occurring; otherwise, instead of doing good for your health, they can actually harm you.  That’s why you hear about Vitamin A and D toxicity: those studies used synthetic forms of the vitamins or supplemented people in the wrong ratio.

Certain kinds of cod liver oil have the 5:1 ratio you want.  Others don’t.  Also, believe it or not, despite the fact that cod liver contains these nutrients in high quantities, many manufacturers destroy or remove them during processing and then replace them at the end with synthetic versions of A & D or well…don’t!   Then you end up with a product that has either the wrong kind of vitamins or not many at all.  Many consumers won’t mind, if all they’re really after are the Omega 3s, but the true potency of cod liver oil lies not only in omegas, but also in its vitamin content.

Why do manufacturers do this? One reason is that the odor is so strong and impurities exist in the unprocessed cod livers that most people in the industry agree that it really needs to undergo a deoderization process.  Loss of vitamin content is a result of this process, though how much depends on what method is used.  The other reason–get this–is because the government has decided that no cod liver oil may contain more than a certain amount of Vitamins D and A per gram.  That’s right, Uncle Sam made the decision for you.  You’re welcome.

So here are my criteria when shopping for cod liver oil:

  • 5:1 ratio of Vitamin A to D
  • Natural, not synthetic A and D
  • Reasonably palatable
  • Reasonably priced
  • Easily accessible

Price is a pretty important factor to me.  Unfortunately, I don’t have all the money in the world, despite the very valid argument that it costs way less in the long-run to maintain good health than to try to fix it later.  Also, I’m more likely to buy it if I can just pick it up at the store, although I’m trying to become less dependent on the grocery store.

When I first started looking at the grocery stores and even health food stores in town a few months ago, I was disappointed to see that most of them did not have the right ratio.  Carlson’s, NOW, and Nordic Naturals all fell under this category.  I looked at some more but couldn’t tell you their names right now.  At this point, the synthetic/natural question wasn’t even on my radar yet, so I went with TwinLabs, simply because it has the closest thing to the right ratio, with one teaspoon containing 4615 IU of Vitamin A and 462 IU of Vitamin D.  We got cherry flavored to help it go down.

I was pretty satisfied with that, but recently I heard Ramiel Nagel say that only fermented cod liver oil will remineralize cavities, which is part of the goal here, so I began to examine the CLO question all over again.  I re-read the WAPF’s CLO recommendations.  While I had noticed a few months ago that TwinLabs’ was on the “Good” list rather than the “Great”, I apparently didn’t catch the reason: TwinLabs’ is in the right ratio, but has synthetic vitamins added!

So I gave my friends at TwinLabs a call this morning, where they confirmed that although their cod liver has all-natural Vitamin A, the D in it is lanolin-derived and added at the end of processing; in other words, it’s D2, not D3 (the natural kind).  Now, apparently, if you’re going to get your D as D2, lanolin-derived is the most absorbable and usable kind (the alternative would be a plant-derived D2), but it’s still not ideal.

Another thing about TwinLabs’, which will be true of pretty much all CLOs available in stores, is that it’s not fermented.  I really want to get a reliable answer as to whether the CLO must be fermented in order to work its magic.

I have looked into the alternatives.  One appears to be the Garden of Life brand. Another is to go ahead and purchase the Green Pastures Blue Ice CLO online.  I looked at the retailers on WAPF’s list (all listed in the “Great” category), but we’re talking about $44 per month to supplement Mustard Seed and me.  On one hand, if you’re only going to buy one supplement, it should probably be CLO; on the other, $44 is just plain a lot of money!

We have about a month’s supply of TwinLabs CLO left, so we will just use that up while I decide on the best course of action.
Do you have experience with different cod liver oil brands?  Have you tried Green Pastures’ Blue Ice Fermented CLO?  What did you think?


One thought on “The Search for the Perfect Cod Liver Oil

  1. chickiepea

    We’re fans of the Green Pastures. I get the butter oil blend one from here: (I’m not associated w/them in any way, but have sampled almost all of their vitamins and LOVE them– also, since I just pulled that up for you, I see that they are running a pretty great bulk sale- gotta get in on that myself!)

    I haven’t tasted their liquids though, so not sure if your dd would have an issue w/that. I give my little one Barlean’s flax oil. Not the best, but tastes really good and she actually likes it (the strawberry one.)

    It definitely is expensive!!


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