Fermented Cod Liver Oil Real Food Review – It is Worth it?

4 out of 5 leaves

4 out of 5 leaves

Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) is a vitamin supplement made from the livers of the cod fish.  It contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, EPA, DHA and high levels of vitamins A and D.  Fermented cod liver oil is made by the traditional method of fermenting the cod livers, and no heat is used.  Thousands of micronutrients are present in this oil, including several natural forms of vitamin A and D.  It is truly a whole food supplement.

Most cod liver oil is made by cooking the whole cod body tissues of fatty fish during the manufacture of fish meal. This process destroys the natural vitamin A and D present in cod livers.  Fish oil is similar, but has much lower levels of vitamins A and D.  (source)

But does Fermented Cod Liver Oil have real health benefits beyond today’s standard fish oils?  Is it really so much better?  And is it worth the price and the ick factor?

The Good

  • Better for you – FCLO is full of the essential fatty acids DHA, EPA and omega-3’s that help build healthy brain tissue
  • Better for you (part 2) – FCLO also has very high levels of naturally occurring Vitamin A and Vitamin D which go a long way in supporting a strong immune system
  • Scientifically researched health benefits galore: there have been a fair number of studies since 2000 (referenced here) that show cod liver oil has a positive effect on Vitamin D blood levels, protection against bone loss, protection against hip fracture, protection against multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and depression, can play an important role in wound healing, decreases arthritis pain, and lowers risk of type 1 diabetes. Women who take cod liver oil during pregnancy tend to birth bigger, smarter babies, and have higher levels of fat soluble vitamins in their breast milk. Children supplemented with cod liver oil need fewer antibiotics for ear infections, and have a lower incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and visits with the pediatrician.
  • Better for the Earth – FCLO is made by a slow and traditional lacto-fermentation process not a high heat industrial extraction method which would have a much higher carbon footprint
  • Saves Money – although the price per bottle may seem high, the daily cost per dose is around $0.37.  This is a very low price versus the cost of doctor’s visits and prescription drugs which can be avoided by regular use of this supplement (stick with me – I’ll explain below…)
  • Comes in various flavors and capsules, so taking your medicine is not too bad

The Bad

  • High up front cost – while the cost per dose is not too bad, the price per bottle is tough to swallow, and must be considered an investment
  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil is only made by one manufacturer, so if they go out of stock, you have to wait for the next batch to be ready.

My Experience

Fermented Cod Liver Oil.  I know, right?  What kind of crazy crunchy idea is this?  I thought the same thing when I first heard about it.  Also, I hate, hate, hate fish, especially fishy fish.  Never would I have dreamed that I would ever try something like this, let alone be recommending it to others.  Let me tell you my story…

When I was pregnant with my first, DHA was the newest must have prenatal supplement.  My midwife recommended a standard prenatal vitamin with a DHA fish oil capsule on the side.  I took it for two days before I decided the fish burps were intolerable.  I really do hate fish.  My solution was to take the “fish pills” right before bed with a glass of milk so any fishy burps escaped unnoticed while I was sleeping.

For my second pregnancy, the same fish pills were not available.  The new ones had a fishy taste even on the outside.  I was not so good about taking them regularly.  I knew those DHAs and omega-3’s are super good for building baby’s brain, but have I mentioned that I really hate the flavor of fish?

When I first met with my midwife to discuss my third pregnancy, I told her “no more fish pills”.  There must be something else I could take to load baby up with those good omega-3s and other fatty acids.  She recommended supplementing with flax seed oil instead.  This was all well and good until I came across this article which noted that flax seed oil can significantly increase the risk of premature birth if consumed during pregnancy.  I immediately stopped taking the flax oil.  Sigh.

Meanwhile, I came across this post by one of my favorite real food bloggers about how at the first sign of a cold she takes Fermented Cod Liver Oil and feels all better right away.  I learned that FCLO is a traditional food that has been around for centuries.  That it’s super full of immune boosting Vitamin A and D, and also has tons of those good DHAs and omega-3 that I need extra of to build a healthy babe.

Then these pro-FCLO posts kept popping up all over my crunchy blog reader.  It seemed to be very chic to be taking FCLO.  And so I somewhat warily invested in a bottle.  I ordered the Blue Ice Brand Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil in Cinnamon Tingle flavor.  (Apparently there is an even better health benefit when the FCLO is taken with the goodness of grass fed butter oil).  Due to a shipping mix-up I ended up getting the plain FCLO with cinnamon flavoring.  I decided this was okay as I was planning to take it at breakfast with my grass-fed buttered toast, which should give me the same nutrients as the high vitamin butter oil.

I mixed in the recommended dosage of the oil into some all natural applesauce (ingredients: apples, water).  The cinnamon flavor was a nice addition to the applesauce, and there was virtually no hint of fishy flavor.  It was surprisingly easy to get down, and a nice addition to my breakfast.  I felt good that I had found a prenatal DHA/omega-3 supplement that worked for me.

The biggest surprise of all, however, came about a month after I started on the FCLO.  The kids both had nasty colds and I had been fighting the cold for about a week.  I hadn’t gotten sick yet, but could feel that sinus tickle lingering around the edges.  Over the weekend, my schedule was different than normal and I ended up not taking the FCLO at breakfast.  By mid-morning, the cold had settled into my sinuses and I was well on my way to a sinus infection.  It was bad enough that I complained to my husband a couple of times that I just knew a sinus infection was setting in (and had the yucky tissues to prove it).

At lunch I remembered to take the FCLO.  By mid afternoon that same day my sinuses were clear, and I was breathing easily again.  This has never happened before!  I never did get sick, not even a runny nose.  In fact, I haven’t gotten sick at all – not even a slight cold since starting on the FCLO, even when the rest of the family has had the sniffles.

Honestly, if it didn’t happen to me, I would not have believed it.  I easily saved a couple hundred dollars by skipping a trip to Urgent Care and a round of antibiotics to fight off a sinus infection.  The price of this oil is well worth the health benefits!  I highly recommend Fermented Cod Liver Oil for you and your whole family.  I plan to continue taking it even after this pregnancy, and the cold and flu season are past.

(Just one word of warning: if you are feeling nauseous, or tend to have morning sickness at a particular time of day, do not take FCLO until you feel better.  This stuff is pretty easy to get down, but if it happens to come back up, it tastes exactly the way you would expect fermented cod liver oil to taste: gross, gross, gross!  And that taste takes a long time to go away.  I speak from experience on this one…  )

Would you, could you try fermented cod liver oil?  Or if you already have, do you have any tips or tricks on getting your family to take it?

PS – You know I’m not a doctor, right?  This information is based on my experience only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.  Your experience may vary.  Please remember to speak with your healthcare professional about any medical concerns you have, and follow their recommended course of treatment. You can read additional fine print details here.

I was not asked to review this product by the manufacturer, or compensated for this review in any way.  This is a personal recommendation for a product that I tried of my own volition.

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34 Responses to Fermented Cod Liver Oil Real Food Review – It is Worth it?

  1. Edith says:

    I’m a chemist and *extremely* sceptical of anecdotal evidence. Unless I found a scientific, peer-reviewed study** (not funded by the manufacturer ) on the benefits of FCLO I wouldn’t try it. Anecdotal evidence is nice, but not convincing. You and others may just be experiencing the placebo effect. Marketers are good at creating hype to sell their expensive “healthy” products.

    **I did google FCLO and could find no such studies after wading through 10 google pages of results.

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Edith – Yes! thank you for bringing this up. I too am a scientist, and understand exactly where you are coming from. The story I shared above is anecdotal, and I appreciate your reminder to add my “I am not a doctor” disclaimer to this post!
      At your prompting this morning, I did my own Google search for “scientific research on fermented cod liver oil”. I found there have been a fair number of studies since 2000 (referenced here) that show cod liver oil has a positive effect on Vitamin D blood levels, protection against bone loss, protection against hip fracture, protection against multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and depression, can play an important role in wound healing, decreases arthritis pain, and lowers risk of type 1 diabetes. Women who take cod liver oil during pregnancy tend to birth bigger, smarter babies, and have higher levels of fat soluble vitamins in their breast milk. Children supplemented with cod liver oil need fewer antibiotics for ear infections, and have a lower incidence of upper respiratory tract infections and visits with the pediatrician.
      I hope you find this information as interesting and informative as I did. Best to you!

      • Nikki says:

        I have been taking Fermented Cod Liver Oil since September and have had tremendous relief… it has helped me so much. My acne has completely cleared and I no longer have ‘brain fog.’ I went for about 4 months not even wanting to leave the house because my acne was so bad. My depression is almost non-existent now. Granted, I do take a very low dose anti-depressant, but the FCLO has helped me SO much since taking that in conjunction. I have energy I haven’t had since I was 10, and I ALWAYS have gotten sick in the past winters. Not this time! It has made my immune system SO strong. If this is the placebo effect then it is a pretty damn huge one.

  2. Kat says:

    If I could afford it I would be taking it. And especially now that I have a reliable source that says the cinnamon flavor hides the taste. I have heard that it can be beneficial (with Ghee) for oral health issues as well.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Kat

  3. Rebekah says:

    I’ve been taking Carlson capsules, but I know they are not nearly as good as FCLO… but they’re so much cheaper! Sigh. Well, I’m going to bite the bullet and order a bottle of cinnamon tingle once my capsules run out. I’m pregnant and really do want the best nutrition for this little one. 🙂

  4. Letitia says:

    Wow, I must have got the wrong flavor or something. I have a $60 bottle of FCLO in the chocolate flavor sitting in my refrigerator because none of us can get it down without gagging! It’s fine for the first few seconds and then all the sudden the taste hits you and it is disgusting! I hope we can figure out how to take it before it goes to waste 🙁

  5. Amy says:

    I heard of Fermented Cod Liver butter Oil blend from the ladies at the balanced bits podcast. I haven’t taken much yet, because I can’t figure out how to get the gel out of the bottle – none of my spoons fit! LOL!

    But I plan to take it with my daily supplements as soon as I figure that bit out. The fishy after taste doesn’t bother me because I like fish.

    I’ve not had enough to say if my results are good, bad or indifferent, but I will say that I supplemented Vitamin D during the last winter and noticed that I had more energy and my usual SAD symptoms were minimal to non-existant. (And I had not changed my diet or exercise in any other way that might explain this).

    • Victoria says:

      My FCLO came with a little medicine dropper/syringe. Perhaps something like that might work for you?

  6. Becky says:

    I take the FCLO from Green Pastures. I take it in the liquid form in the mint flavor. The taste is really pretty decent because the mint covers up that “fishy” flavor. I also take their high vitamin butter oil because the 2 combined is supposed to give the best results. I took the Orange Flavored Skate Liver oil for a while but had to hold my nose each time to get it down and then didn’t breathe until I’d take a big drink of water. lol!!! It was definitely pretty yuck!! I finished the bottle though. Too expensive not to 🙂 Now I do the FCLO and the HVBO and it’s all good. 🙂

    • Victoria says:

      I’ve heard about the health link between the FCLO and HVBO. However I decided to go with just the FCLO as I have toast with a good amount of grass fed butter nearly every morning.

  7. farmer_liz says:

    thank you for explaining this! I have been wondering why people were using fermented CLO, as I have just been buying the unfermented variety and I didn’t know the different. It makes sense now, I will have to try to find a source of FCLO in Australia, I think that Green Pastures is imported here, pity there’s no truely local source. Cheers, Liz

    • Victoria says:

      I’m pretty sure Green Pastures is the only source we have here in the States as well. Hopefully demand for this great product will drive an increase in availability soon!

  8. Tillie says:

    Your post was perfectly timed! I’ve been considering FCLO because I’ve heard it can help heal teeth naturally as well and my youngest is the 3rd child I’ve had that has brittle enamel on their teeth (all boys, go figure – my oldest and my only girl are fine!) I don’t suppose you’ve had any experience with teeth since beginning FCLO?

    • Victoria says:

      I’ve heard the same thing about tooth healing, but I don’t have anything to report on that front. However, my next check-up is in a few weeks, so we’ll see if they say anything…

  9. When I was a kid, my mom gave all my siblings and me a spoonful of Cod Liver Oil every single day. Our refrigerator always smelled like fish. 🙂 But she was ahead of her time in making sure we got our Omega 3s.

  10. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post AND my FCLO/HVBO Blend. There is a difference between butter and HVBO but that’s ok. One thing that’s really cool, is that when Dr. Price began giving FCLO to his patients he began seeing some improvements, but when he gave them FCLO and HVBO he began healing their cavities! I figure if it’s healing cavities, it’s healing other things too! 🙂 Follow this link for a first-hand testimonial of HEALING CAVITIES! http://mindbodyandsoleonline.com/nutrition/cod-liver-oil-a-short-history-its-benefits/

    Thank you for sharing this review on Wildcrafting Wednesday! 🙂 You rock! 🙂

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  13. Hannah says:

    Thansk so much for sharing this.. I am very interested in the FCLO/HVBO blend! Thanks for linking this up at Eco-Kids Tuesday!

  14. Alea says:

    Fascinating! I ate fish though I hate it and took fish oil pills for my kids while pregnant. I love the idea of cinnamon flavored cod liver oil. Thanks for sharing your post with the Hearth and Soul Hop. I’ve pinned it to my Pinterest board.

  15. Amber S. says:

    I’m glad to read that the cinnamon tingle helps to hide the taste. I bought the chocolate cream flavor and Oh. My. Yuckiness. BLECH!!!! It is awful. The only way I can get it down is to put it in the back of my mouth and hurryhurryhurry to drink something strong tasting. Like orange juice. Even then, it’s still pretty awful. I was afraid the cinnamon tingle might be spicy. My three year old finds a lot of things to be “hot”. However, he can get his serving of FCLO down with nothing but water. No problem. It’s amazing to watch him. Amazing cause their ain’t no way I can do that! *shiver*

  16. Valerie says:

    Okay ladies, what am I missing? Why not order the capsules and be done with taste issues? We do the Green Pastures FCLO/butter oil blend capsules and the kids take the chocolate cream flavor mixed with a dab of Nutella for the picky ones. We love it.

    I always wonder the same thing after a blogger tells their latest trick for getting garlic down … why not do what we do? Smash up a clove and use a toothpick to scoop the juicy pile into empty capsules. No garlic breath, zero nausea, nothing! 😀

    • Victoria says:

      Hi Valerie! I can’t speak for others, but I stick with the oil instead of capsules for a few reasons: 1) the capsules are more expensive, and FCLO is not cheap to start with. 2) the dose for capsules is huge – up to 20 per day for pregnant women like me – it’s just easier to take a couple teaspoonfuls mixed into applesauce. 3) My kiddos are too small to swallow capsules, but can easily eat up some “spiked” applesauce.
      That being said, I agree that encapsulation is a great way to get down some unpalatable things!

  17. Katie Fowler says:

    Thank you for this post! I am a firm believer in FCLO in conjunction with butter oil. I know on amazon it an get pricey but I just ordered mine from a site called renewed health and it was only $47 with free shipping. I have the cinnamon tingle and it is fairly easy to get down. My 16 month old loves it and asks for more. While speaking to my mom the other day she is certain I am pregnant because I am “absolutely glowing!” I do have a question, the first time I ordered mine I got the non flavored kind off of amazon. It was a jello like consistency and very light colored. This time I ordered the cinnamon tingle off renewed health and it is very runny and dark. Do you know why this could be? I am also using it for tooth decay after reading the book Cure Tooth Decay. I am anxious to see results!

  18. Vicki Wallace says:

    Does FCLO with butter in oil expire in fridge?I got awhile back… I couldn’t swallow the cinnamon tingle and had to spit out. It was to icky for me. Felt sorry for the janitor. It was stinky!

  19. Rajesh says:

    Hi My son start taking FCLO 1 month ago, his voice is becoming Raspy, he is 4 yr old.
    Is it due to FCLO,Please advice

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