Why take fermented cod liver oil? Lots of reasons.

Why take fermented cod liver oil? Lots of reasons.

Why take fermented cod liver oil? That’s a great question. Because, let’s be honest, it doesn’t sound all that appealing. But this traditional super food has a pretty impressive lists of benefits… which is why so many people continue to take it. Including me.

Fermented cod liver oil goes way back. In fact, many of the great historical cultures have used this sacred food to ensure vitality and health. Roman Soldiers were given a daily ration. The Scandinavian Vikings had a drum of fermenting cod livers outside the door of their homes. And not too long ago, grandmas across the nation had some in their cupboard, too.

Here are some of the reasons my family takes fermented cod liver oil (like this):

Benefits of Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Benefits of fermented cod liver oil

1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is not really a vitamin, but one of the oldest prohormones (a substance that can be converted to a hormone). Vitamin D is critically important for the development, growth, and maintenance of a healthy body, beginning with gestation in the womb and continuing throughout the lifespan.

Vitamin D deficiency is often associated with rickets. And it’s clear it has a function in maintaining healthy bones since bone softening diseases like osteomalacia and osteoporosis have been associated with low levels of vitamin D.

But beyond our bones, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to congestive heart failure, several cancers, Multiple Sclerosis, Type I Diabetes and high blood pressure. And people with significantly low levels of vitamin D have been shown be more susceptible to colds and flu viruses.

Not only that, but vitamin D has been shown to help protect people from diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Fibromyalgia. It also helps with skin infections. Oh yeah, it also protects against skin cancer and Rheumatoid Arthritis. (Learn more about the power of vitamin D)

And guess what? It’s estimated that more than 70% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.

So how do I get more vitamin D?

Direct sunlight is a great source… assuming it’s the right time of year, you don’t wear sunscreen, you live in the right place, and you actually get outside during the right hours. Not always easy.

The best food source? That’s right: Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

2. Vitamin A

Consider these reasons for making sure you have enough vitamin A:

  • Vitamin A is important for vision
  • Vitamin A regulates genes
  • Vitamin A supports the immune system
  • Vitamin A is important for red blood cell production

And to top it off: Vitamin A is a co-factor for Vitamin D. Which is why it’s important to have both of these together.

And wouldn’t you know it: Fermented Cod Liver Oil has both Vitamin A and D.

3. Essential Fatty Acids

Beyond being the powerhouse for vitamins A and D, Cod liver oil is also rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docasahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body makes these fatty acids from omega-3 linolenic acid. These essential fatty acids are very important for the proper function of the brain and nervous system.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil: The original super food

It’s little wonder that fermented cod liver oil has been used for so many years. In fact, fermented cod liver oil was often regarded as a critical part of a fertility diet, proving to be essential prior to conception, during pregnancy, and for growing children (in the proper dosage, of course). It’s also one of my family’s immediate “go to” remedies when we feel a cold coming on. It’s powerful stuff.

Benefits of fermented cod liver oil

Why fermented?

It’s important to remember that not all cod liver oil is created equal. Despite the “gross” factor that comes with the idea of fermented cod liver oil, it’s really the best option out there. Why?

Around the time of the industrial revolution, the production of cod liver oil became much less natural. Supplement manufacturers started extracting the oil in a way that strips out key vitamins like A and D. Then they go in and add synthetic versions of these vitamins. You can find the kind I take here.

So as less-than-appealing as it may sound, it’s the only way to ensure that you are getting real vitamins that your body knows how to process. Nature is pretty amazing, right?

Do you take cod liver oil? How do you take it? (I’m a capsule weenie myself.)




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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Lauren @ Empowered Sustenance

    I just recently started taking FCLO. I felt like I didn’t adequately fit the description “real food lover” unless I was taking it :) Plus, Emily convinced me in her post about how it cures the common cold.

    To my surprise, it isn’t bad at all! I take the liquid cinnamon flavor. It came with a little syringe and the serving size is only 2 ml. I just shoot it into the back of my throat and follow with a sip of water, while holding my breath. There is only a faint aftertaste. It sounds like a hassle, but it really isn’t!

  2. Ladonna

    What’s the difference in capsules and gel? I am afraid the gel would make me wanna throw up. I hate hate fish!

    1. Post author

      Hi Ladonna,

      I think I just responded to you about this on facebook, but in case anyone else has the same question: The capsules and gel are the exact same in terms of the oil. The only difference is the delivery method via capsule which covers most of the flavor. They are more expensive, however, so if you don’t mind the taste I’d say go for the gel for sure. Hope that helps! :)

  3. Joli

    I started taking FCLO about 3 months ago. I take the liquid kind, Oslo Orange flavor. I don’t love it, but I know how good it is for me…so I do it! I haven’t done the math on this, so sorry if I’m passing along bad info, but I read last week that you would have to take multiple capsules to equal the recommended dose of liquid…and MORE if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding (which I am).

    1. Post author

      It’s true. It’s takes a lot of capsules to equal the same amount of gel that you can take in one single shot. Once I’m done with my capsules I’m going to brave the gel. Wish me luck. 😉

  4. Heather

    We take the Olso Orange flavor. I use a syringe. Fill up my dose then fill the rest of the syringe with apple cider (the spices do a good job hiding the fish flavor), and I drink a small glass of apple cider to wash it down. MY KIDS take it too. I use chocolate almond milk and do the syringe thing too. I’m would like them to take it another way, but this is working so I’m going to stick with it for now. :)

    1. Post author

      Awesome, Heather! Love the idea.

      C was so good about taking it straight up and then refused. Right now we actually put it on her bottom before night time (and use a disposal diaper at night since it stains). Hoping she’ll go back to taking it orally when she’s a bit older. 😉

  5. Douglas Wallace

    Great Story!!!!!. I eat wild caught salmon and my vitamin D scores are very optimal. Especially for an African-American, who cannot get it from the sun in a northern climate. You’re right, cod liver is a great source, and one of the few true sources you can get vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency, as I am assuming you know, is now being correlated to cancer and other diseases. Simple knowledge such as this can save out lives and/or health

    1. Post author

      Thanks, Douglas! It’s true, I’ve been reading a lot about vitamin D lately and it’s so essential to good health (and something most people are deficient of). Thanks for stopping by. :)

  6. cassia

    i haven’t braved it yet because i’m like ladonna… not a huge fish fan. but there are some good ideas here about the cider and the cinnamon, and a syringe… i figure if this stuff is obviously so beneficial, it’s worth making faces over for a minute! wish me luck, i’m buying some this week!!

  7. Deborah Gordon, M.D.

    All the benefits you mentioned, plus the fermentation provides vitamin K2, which will be the next celebrated overlooked vitamin, now that everyone knows about vitamin D. K2 prevents against many chronic diseases and our fat-phobic standard American diets are low in K2 (butter, cheese, yummm) so another food source is ideal.

    I take the liquid cinnamon flavor, but the capsules are not that much more expensive, the bottle just holds fewer doses so you have to keep re-buying it more frequently.

    We interviewed Dave Wetzel, plus described everything else wonderful about this product I recommend to all my patients. http://www.drdeborahmd.com/fermented-cod-liver-oil-traditional-food

  8. kristy @ Gastronomical Sovereignty

    i’ve never actually taken cod liver oil. i do hear its very good for you though. does it taste awful in pill form?

    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! i look forward to seeing what other seasonal & whole/real food posts you have for us this week! xo, kristy

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  11. Paulina

    My daughter takes the chocolate cream butter blend and her eczema cleared up so fast! She says its good, too bad its so hard to get here in Canada :(

  12. Shelley Fitzgerald

    I just learned from Sally Fallon via the Healthy Life Summit that you can start giving fermented Cod Liver Oil to babies as early as 3 months. I am about it start taking it and thought I’d give it to baby too. Did you find C took better to a particular flavor? I assume you did the liquid with her.

  13. Katie

    I am just curious to know what the difference is between the FCLO and Krill Oil? I have heard that the Krill Oil is better since there is less mercury, is there any way to get a clarification? Thanks!

      1. Katie

        Thanks! That article seems skewed towards Krill oil but was still very informative. Why do you choose FCLO over Krill oil?

        1. Post author

          Yeah, depending on what article you read you’ll get one bias over the other. I choose FCLO because I love the process by which it is made. I feel more confident in what I’m actually consuming. But I don’t think it has to be a black or white situation. You could always do one on one day and switch it up the next. :)

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  17. Rebecca

    Hi Robin
    I am eager to try the FCLO but my partner said last time he took Cod Liver/ Fish oil capsules it resulted in him having reflux and constant burping. Have you or anyone you know experienced this and have anyways of overcoming it? I don’t want him missing out on any of the health benefits
    Thanks so much!

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Some people can be sensitive to FCLO. I’ve heard there is a raw clo coming out sometime (hopefully) soon that may be his answer. It requires you take a lot less and doesn’t give the burps. When I comes out I’ll do a post about it. :)

      1. Post author
        Robin Konie

        So in the meantime, I wouldn’t stress too much about it. As long as his diet is good he’ll be fine. 😉

    2. Mamie

      Try taking the capsule form and with food. My husband had the same problem until I switched. He only takes two capsules a day. I get the blend with the high vitamin butter for optimal benefits. Taking it with food lets the natural digestive juices help with breaking down the oil. If he has issues with digestion of fats in general, consider some HCL supplements in the short term. Then look at liver congestion issues, which means other parts of his diet that might be weighing down his liver.

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  25. Ricard

    Maybe krill oil is more effective than either fish oil or FCLO but the author did not mention the most important benefit of FCLO which is vitamin K2…

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