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Fermented Cod Liver Oil

If you are following GAPS or WAPF you have probably heard of fermented cod liver oil.  You may still be wondering what it is and if it is worth such a high price.

Green Pasture Blue Ice Cod Liver Oil Cinnamon Tingle Liquid

Cod Liver Oil/fermented fish oil has been consumed since ancient times by many different cultures.  Roman solders were given a ration of fermented fish oil as part of their wages. In fact fermenting is the traditional way that fish oil was produced until about 150 years ago. At the start of the industrial revolution it was discovered that fish oil could be produced faster and in greater abundance if the fish livers were rendered instead of waiting for fermentation to take place.  This was good for producers and sellers and bad for consumers. Then about 60 years ago it was discovered that this oil could be deodorized and made virtually flavorless and shelf stable for a long time.  Again good for producers and sellers (people preferred the tasteless cod liver oil for obvious reasons and so purchased more of it.)  Unfortunately many of the beneficial elements of the traditional fish oil were lost in all of this processing and what had been a sacred food became something highly processed and marginally healthy (source).

In the course of the processing the vitamins are somehow removed from the fish oil and then added back at a certain level.  Have you ever noticed that the label of a fish oil bottle says exactly how much vitamin A, D and other nutrients is in each capsule or ounce?  Do you think things in nature are like that?  With each and every fish liver having the exact same level of vitamin A?  Of course not!  What was a sacred food with all of the constituents found in nature balancing each other out is now a highly processed supplement with only the ingredients that are thought to be health giving and in levels that support various theories as to what is best.  (My father recently went to his cupboard to examine the vitamin levels in his cod liver oil from a major brand and was shocked to discover that the recommended dosage may contain no vitamin d at all!  It has vitamin D in a range of 0-20 iu per tsp of the product. )   Cod Liver Oil is famous for being high in vitamins A and D!  He clearly hadn’t checked the label but just took for granted that if it said Cod Liver Oil it would have plenty of A and D.

If you have read the GAPS book you know that Dr Campbell-McBride recommends the Fermented Cod Liver Oil for gut healing. The Weston A Price Foundation recommends that everyone consume cod liver oil daily.  One great thing about this fermented cod liver oil is that it is a whole food so the risks of toxicity from getting too much of any one nutrient is greatly diminished.  Also it is a raw animal food and our American Diet is extremely low in these, yet all traditional cultures consumed at least some of their animal foods raw.  It is also a fermented food and full of lactic acid bacteria, the consumption of which is essential for gut health and healing.  There are stories that Dr Price carried a bottle of high vitamin cod liver oil with him and, along with butter oil, administered it to gravely ill people and they recovered.  (I have read this story in more than one place but can’t find a source for it now so if anyone knows where it is I would appreciate it.)

Anecdotally I had the experience a few months ago of healing a sinus infection very quickly with mega doses of it.  I had a cold that just lingered but it was the holiday season and I was neglecting my health figuring it would last 7-10 days like most colds do and not feeling like I had the energy to give it much attention.  Then one day I woke up and realized I felt worse than I had and my sinuses were in pain.  I was very unhappy to realize that I had a sinus infection!  I recalled hearing that FCLO can stop a cold if you take big doses at the first sign.  This wasn’t the first sign but I decided to give it a try and see what happened.  It was a Saturday and I took 2 tsp with each of the 3 meals I ate that day.  The next day I woke up feeling significantly better.  I repeated the 2 tsp dose for 3 more meals and by supper time felt almost completely better.  If I recall correctly I then backed off to my regular 1 tsp a day dose and within a couple of days all traces of my cold were gone.

Incidentally the Dr I recently brought my youngest to (Enzyme Therapy) suggested that she should begin taking her FCLO (fermented cod liver oil) on an empty stomach to better absorb it.  Since I am doing this for her I have also made the switch for me and I seem to need less of it when taking it on an empty stomach so this is a money saving option for those who are concerned with saving money (who isn’t?)  

As for dosage here is what the Weston A. Price Foundation says (source)

“the dosage for the high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil is provided as follows:

  • Children age 3 months to 12 years: 1/2 teaspoon or 2.5 mL, providing 4650 IU vitamin A and 975 IU vitamin D.
  •  Children over 12 years and adults: 1 teaspoon or 10 capsules, providing 9500 IU vitamin A and 1950 IU vitamin D.
  • Pregnant and nursing women: 2 teaspoon or 20 capsules, providing 19,000 IU vitamin A and 3900 IU vitamin D.”

Dr Natasha suggests in the GAPS book doubling this for those in need of gut healing.  We did take double this when we first started GAPS but now are now each taking the appropriate dose for our age and situation according to this list. The WAPF further notes that some find that they get equal benefit from 1/2 of this recommended dose. I suspect that is probably more true for people who take it on an empty stomach according to what I recently learned.

 

Do you take Fermented Cod Liver oil?  Why or Why not?  Have you noticed any benefits from it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments! 

Many of my blog posts contain affiliate links. Purchasing through an affiliate link allows me to keep blogging and sharing what I learn with you. It is a bit like leaving a tip for service and is very much appreciated.
 
Thank You! -PattyLA


22 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post, I was just looking at this yesterday and trying to figure out whether to take capsules, plain or this stuff. As I am LOD, cinnamon is a red flag. Amazon reviewers said the plain stuff smelled/tasted awful. Have you had any experience with the plain stuff?
    Hilary

    • Hi Hilary,
      Actually we take the plain. I recently got the cinnamon and my dh says he likes it best but for the rest of us I don’t dare use a flavor so we take plain. I just take it straight. The girls can swallow pills so I fill up empty caps and give it to them that way. Cheaper than buying the prefilled caps and since it doesn’t have any stabilizing agents they need to only take 3 caps to make 1/2 tsp worth instead of 5. In the past we have taken it floated on the top of a shot glass of strongly flavored juice. That also went down easy and the girls looked forward to it as a treat.

  2. I tried to. Goodness I tried to….but I really got so tired of gagging the stuff down (and I rarely have trouble eating anything!) and the fishy (pardon me) “burps” were horrid and lasted hours.

    I’m not going to argue the possible health benefits. But when I have to work that hard to get them down, something is wrong. We’re supposed to listen to our bodies and mine was saying “no.”

    • Kathleen I’m sorry it was so difficult for you to take it. Did you ever try it in capsules or floated on juice? Over time I got to where I tolerated it better and better and now I take it straight w/o a problem.

      • Oh yes, I tried capsules, liquid (flavored and not), plain, with juice, with jelly…I think sometimes we WAPF fans get so caught up in “doing it right” that we forget one of the fundamental principles: listen to YOUR body. The few times I actually tolerated FCLO was while fighting an infection, such as a cold or sinus problems. But I simply can’t take it every day. I came away realizing that is not what my body needs. On a similar vein, recently, I began craving liver. Several weeks in a row I made beef liver and onions–so delicious! My oldest son and I fought everyone else in the family to eat it. (Not that the others fought very hard!) Then it became repugnant. Didn’t (and still don’t) want it. As long as we listen to our body’s craving for healthy foods, we be doing our body a favor. Note: this does NOT include cravings for sugar, deep fried foods, refined foods, etc.

        • You are right that listening to your own body is very important! I just think that people reject things that taste bad to them because we are so used to everything tasting good. I have had the experience of craving liver as well, but for me it continued to taste bad to me while I ate large portions of it because of my craving. Weird! I will force myself to eat liver occasionally and despite it tasting bad to me it does make me feel better and give me more energy.

  3. Hi, thanks for a great post! I was just wondering if you could reccommend a good brand of fclo. I live in Ireland and am having difficulty sourcing a high quality product. Many thanks, Shelagh

    • The Weston A Price article that I posted lists sources for cod liver oil all over the world. Check there for one that you could order from.

  4. Hi Patty,

    I have read in many places that fermented cod liver oil should be taken with the high vitamin butter oil to maximize effectiveness. Unfortunately, I am off all dairy, including ghee, so I can’t take the butter oil. Do you know of a substitute for the butter oil? Just curious…I have researched a bit but haven’t found anything. Thanks!

    • Vitamin K2 is assumed to be the ingredient that is in butter oil that works synergisticly with the cod liver oil. That can be found in high levels in natto. It is also found in fermented cod liver oil but not in any other cod liver oils because of how they are processed. Some have taken K2 pills to make up for missing the butter oil. Raw animal fats are important for human health and if you aren’t getting raw butter then finding other sources of raw animal fats is important for health. The FCLO is raw but a very small dose is usually taken. I have eaten raw tallow in the past when dairy free and really found myself craving it.

  5. Hi there,

    Thanks for the insight. I never thought to eat raw tallow or fats before. I will try it though…only a little bit as my body still does not digest fats well at all. I SO wish that I could eat butter and ghee…maybe someday!! Thanks again.

    • I find that raw fats are easier to digest than cooked. You may find the same thing. They come with the enzymes intact to help you digest them.

  6. Hi,

    I’m on Repairvite powder and diet, plus following FODMAPS list due to gut irritation from many foods. I find I have trouble digesting fats. If I eat high fat content things, even fat in bone broth, I get some “indigestion” signs. What do you recommend to help digest fats? I have just ordered the FCLO and hope I’ll be able to take it. I saw the raw fats suggestion above, but would like to be able to digest small amounts of fats in my foods/supplements. I seem to do fine with olive oil, flax oil.

    Thanks.

    • It is likely that your difficulty digesting fats is related to your liver and gall bladder function. A work around can be to take ox bile. Bile is what your liver makes and concentrates in your gall bladder and it is necessary for fat digestion. Ox bile replaces the missing bile. It can also related to your stomach hcl level since high hcl levels tell your gall bladder to release bile. Do you take hcl with your meals? Some find that this is enough to stimulate digestion of fats while others find that they need ox bile too or instead. Fermented Cod Liver Oil is a raw fat and hopefully you will be able to digest it just fine but it may take some playing around with timing and some supplements to figure this out. Digesting fats is necessary to replenish your bodies fat soluble vitamin stores so it isn’t like you can just skip fat for the rest of your life and regain your health. Good luck figuring out what you need.

  7. Thanks for the info. I think I do have high Hcl because I was taking it recently to try and help things, as recommended by most, and I had a noticeable burning sensation in my stomach. So, I stopped. Now it seems I get that same sensation when eating fats, even the fat in bone broth. So, the ox bile could be the missing piece. Took the FCLO/BO without a problem today. Happy about that! :-)

    • You can also get a burning sensation when the hcl is high but not high enough. It has to do with how the stomach works. It is the high level of acid that tells the opening at the top of the stomach to close tightly. If you get close to enough acid but not quite enough acid it will cause acidic stomach contents to splash up into the esophagus while the stomach is churning to do it’s work in digestion. We all experienced that here and the solution was to take even more hcl. Sipping something acidic, like apple cider vinegar may also help in that situation to bump up your stomach acid level just enough to close the sphincter tightly. It may be that before you didn’t have any pain because you just weren’t making a significant level of acid at all and now it is increased but not quite enough. There really is a wide range of high acid levels that the stomach is designed to tolerate and it is quite rare for the problem to actually be too much stomach acid being created.
      Bone broth should increase your stomach acid so it really sounds to me that the issue is not necessarily the fat but instead that your stomach is beginning to function more normally but you are somewhat stuck in that transitional stage. We found ginger to be very soothing when we had that burning sensation and always kept ginger pills (just a capsule filled with powdered ginger) nearby while we were correcting our stomach acid levels.

  8. That makes sense. I get it! I did order some enzymes with ox bile but no Hcl, yesterday. Would that interfere with stomach acid levels if I try it? I have Bragg’s ACV. Is is best to take it before, after or with a meal? I’m thinking like 2 tsp in water. Actually, now that I think about it, I don’t have the burning sensation until after dinner, I’m fine much of the day with lighter meals. I also have a plain Hcl/pepsin tablet that is 350mg. It says to take it once a day. If so, maybe with dinner? When I tried it, I still had burning, so I thought it was too strong. Hmmmm….I could need even more then? Happy to think that things are starting to work better! I can actually hear my stomach gurgling sometimes, which to me is good thing!

    Thank you so much for your info. Gut healing is a delicate process, but I think the key to my recovery from Hashimoto’s.

    • Enzymes and ox bile will not change stomach acid levels. I think you should try taking some acv straight if you feel the burning and see if that fixes it within 20 min or so. Don’t put it in water since that will dilute it and make you need more acid. That you are fine with lighter meals makes me think it is even more that you just don’t make quite enough acid so just the bigger meals are a problem. Something about raising the acid level actually retrains your body to start making more acid on it’s own so this is usually a temporary issue if you treat it correctly. It may even get there on it’s own but a little help from you will probably make the process more comfortable.

      I have no idea why that one pill would say to take it once a day. You need HCL with meals that include protein. It may simply be a CYA type instruction from the manufacturer.

  9. I tried it this morning after breakfast, I had a little burning. I took 2tsp in water because that’s how I usually do it, but I will leave out the water from now on. Within about 20 mins it was gone. Amazing, thanks so much for the help! Do you think I should do the ACV after every meal, or wait to see if I need it? Maybe just if I eat substantial protein? Would you think 1 tsp is enough?

    Thanks again! :-)

    • I’m glad it worked! It if worked with water then you can keep doing it that way. You might try drinking some with every meal for a while just to prevent the burn and then at some point try going without and see how you do. You shouldn’t need it forever.

  10. Hi!
    I’m just researching where to buy FLCO, found a site in the UK (I’m based in Ireland) – the dose on the bottle is 2 per day, but in your article the WAP dose is 10 capsules!! That would make it super expensive and the bottle would only last 12 days. (Children over 12 years and adults: 1 teaspoon or 10 capsules, providing 9500 IU vitamin A and 1950 IU vitamin D.) Can you shed some light on this?

    Thanks

    Rebecca :-)

    • The bottle label is just to inform you what is in a 2 cap dosage. It is not to tell you how much to take. 10 caps is 1 tsp of the liquid. You need to determine your optimal dose.

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