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?
- 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
- 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.
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.