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What to Take Instead of Cod Liver Oil

take-instead-cod-liver-oil

I’m going to say something almost unforgiveable among us Weston A. Price groupies. Prepare yourself.

I have not met a single pregnant woman who could stomach fermented cod liver oil during her entire pregnancy. At some point in there, she just couldn’t take it. Maybe it was the smell. Maybe it was the taste. Maybe it was her overly active gag reflex.

And even if you’re not pregnant, you may still struggle with taking it. You know who you are. Put simply, fermented cod liver oil is beyond you — even when taken in capsule form.

Yes, it’s a superfood. Yes, you’d love to take it daily and get all the nutritional benefits it can offer. Do you? No.


What should you take instead of cod liver oil?

Here’s how I answered this question for myself.

Nutritional Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

First, I took a look at the nutritional benefits of cod liver oil. It’s most important virtues seemed to be:

  • It’s a fish oil, so it’s a source of Omega-3s.
  • It’s from an organ, so it’s high in the perfect trifecta of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, & K-2.

These vitamins are absolutely essential for increasing fertility, reducing pregnancy risks, boosting our immune systems, and having healthy, strong bones.

Second, I asked myself one question:

What other whole food supplements can provide these same nutritional benefits?

The truth is, there is no one powerhouse supplement as effective as fermented cod liver oil.

None.

But I believe that with a judicious application of supplement combining, we can at least know that we have our bases covered despite being unable to stomach cod liver oil.

Instead of Cod Liver Oil #1: Krill Oil with Astaxanthin

Unlike cod liver oil, Krill Oil is actually sustainable (see: Why I started taking Krill Oil with Astaxanthin). It’s also rich in phospholipid Omega-3′s and naturally non-toxic (no heavy metal worries here!)

(Where to find Krill Oil with Astaxanthin.)

Unfortunately, krill oil is just a “fish” oil and does not have the added benefit of being from an organ. Therefore, it’s not a rich source of vitamins A, D, and K-2. For those, we’ll need to look elsewhere.

Instead of Cod Liver Oil #2: Dessicated Liver Capsules

Liver is a traditional superfood, and extraordinarily rich in B vitamins, folate and vitamin A. If you’re not eating liver twice per week (or taking a daily dose of cod liver oil), then it’s a good idea to supplement with raw, dessicated liver capsules.

These babies are tasteless, easy to swallow, and really good for you (particularly when made from the liver of grass-fed cows).

(Where to find desiccated liver capsules made from grass-fed cows).

Now all you’re missing a great source of vitamins D and K-2.

Instead of Cod Liver Oil #3: High Vitamin Butter Oil

High-vitamin butter oil is a little like ghee, but it’s been centrifuged to concentrate the vitamins. If you’re not taking fermented cod liver oil, it’s an absolutely essential supplement. That’s because (when made from grass-fed cows) it’s an excellent source of vitamins A, D, and K-2.

(Where to find High Vitamin Butter Oil made from grass-fed cows.)

But what if you can’t stomach High Vitamin Butter Oil?

While HVBO is more palatable than fermented cod liver oil, it’s still hard for some people to swallow.

So, if you’re like me and prefer taking pills to swallowing oil, then this is what I recommend:

Instead of Cod Liver Oil #4: Whole Food Vitamin D3 by VitaCost

If you’re going to take a vitamin D supplement, you should at least try to stick to one that’s made from actual food (rather than an artificial form of vitamin D that’s synthesized in a lab) and does not contain a single, isolated nutrient. VitaCost’s Whole Food Vitamin D3 contains a food-based form of vitamin D, along with a myriad of raw, cultured probiotics and enzymes derived from fruits & vegetables to help aid in the vitamin’s absorption.

(Where to find Whole Food Vitamin D.)

Instead of Cod Liver Oil #5: Vitamin K2 Complex

Don’t confuse vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. K2 is an essential nutrient that can only be found in animals eating grass or through certain fermented food (like natto, gouda, and brie). While I prefer to get mine from well-sourced food, I also use a natto-derived K2 supplement to cover my bases.

(Where to find natto-derived K2.)

SUMMARY: What to Take Instead of Cod Liver Oil

Put as simply as possible, I believe that from the list above, you can take either one of these combinations and have your non-cod-liver-oil bases covered:

  • Krill Oil with Astaxanthin, Dessicated Liver Caps, High-Vitamin Butter Oil
  • Krill Oil with Astaxanthin, Dessicated Liver Caps, Whole Food Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2 Complex

Now, is any of this endorsed by the Weston A Price Foundation? No. I’m just telling you what my family’s done as we’ve journeyed through years of trying (and failing!) to take our cod liver oil.

Hope it helps!

(photo credit: bizzzarro)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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126 Responses to What to Take Instead of Cod Liver Oil
  1. joyce wang
    January 21, 2014 | 10:41 am

    thanks for the write up it’s very helpful. i am not pregnant and i can stomach it everyday so it’s hard for me to imagine that when i wanna get pregnant again i wouldn’t be able to but this is always helpful in case it turns out that way. thanks.

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/12/23/important-cod-liver-oil-update.aspx

    dr mercola apparently stopped recommending cod liver oil as of 2008, he says :

    My previous recommendation was based on the fact that cod liver oil contains vitamins D and A in addition to healthy omega-3 fats. These vitamins are essential for most everyone who cannot get regular sun exposure year-round. But more recent research has discovered that the ratios of these two vitamins may be of paramount importance in order to extract optimal health benefits, and unfortunately, modern cod liver oil does not supply these vitamins in healthy ratios to each other.

    what do you think about this?

  2. Nathalie
    January 21, 2014 | 11:17 am

    Great article. Very informative. I kind of cheat a little. A cod liver oil capsule every other day, and I eat liver once a week. Not enough obviously, but getting used to the cod liver oil going into my system, and able to tolerate a couple days in a row of the capsules now without any problem. So I’m slowly working up to the every day cod liver oil habit.

  3. Matt
    January 21, 2014 | 11:17 am

    I take Carlsons lemon cod liver oil capsules. It has a great lemony’finish’ (ok- burp) as opposed to fishy.

  4. Tara Pantera
    January 21, 2014 | 11:34 am

    I get the cinnamon tingle gel from RLF…this particular batch is DISGUSTING. I mixed it with equal parts of homemade elderberry syrup, take it with my nose plugged and eat something immediately after…I don’t let go of my nose for a solid 2-3 minutes…GUH-ross. Because of this, I don’t take it regularly enough. :( I hope I still get the benefits of it even though I only “remember” to take it a couple of times a week. :-/

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 12:42 pm

      And this… this is why I wrote this post!

      SOLIDARITY.

    • Krissy
      January 23, 2014 | 4:46 pm

      I just called Green Pastures a couple weeks ago as two bottles of the cinnamon tingle FCLO(July manufacture date) I had bought had to be thrown out as they tasted so rotten! We have been taking it for years, and am aware of the differences; however, this was really terrible! Dave informed me that they had a problem back then with the cinnamon they were using.

      • Krissy
        February 9, 2014 | 5:21 am

        Oops, it was actually a May date when I double checked on the second bottle. Not sure on the first bottle as it had been thrown away.

  5. K
    January 21, 2014 | 11:35 am

    Why not just take unfermented cod liver oil? Like Carlson’s Lab?

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 12:43 pm

      Most often, it’s because it has synthetic forms of vitamin A & D added.

  6. Sonii Nagel
    January 21, 2014 | 11:49 am

    I have to say I love cod liver oil ! I took Carlson’s lemon flavor for years, purchased through Vitacost, then we switched to Dr. Mercola’s krill and my husband asked me to switch up back !! This was three bottles later and he said his skin was dry and his heals were cracked and he (who hates all my supplements) asked for it ! I am on Nordic Naturals Arctic and loving it. Both my older two daughters were pregnant recently and took Carlson’s through pregnancy. I just don’t think you can beat the Vit A and the omega threes ! I had four kids and growing up they took the emulsified cod liver, Twin labs, I think and there were years all four had perfect school attendance and we never used antibiotics. Something to that old time Cod liver oil :)

  7. Danielle
    January 21, 2014 | 11:51 am

    You mentioned toxins from fish oil. I just finished a bottle of fermented cod liver oil from one of the best brands. I did not have better vitamin D results and was shown to have toxins (mercury & copper). Could this be from the FCLO?

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 1:55 pm

      Possibly! Was the brand certified mercury-free?

  8. Traci
    January 21, 2014 | 11:55 am

    I used to take Krill Oil until I realized it was causing me to really ache – like I was 100 years old or something. I didn’t know that was going on until I read another woman who said she and her husband were feeling the same way and she stopped taking it to do a test (she used Mercola’s Krill Oil). She got a lot better and took it again to see if the achiness came back. It did. I’ve had the same experience so now just take fish oil from Vitacost. I’m sure it isn’t the best but financially, it fits into our budget. And FYI, I haven’t been sick in years but do lots of other things WAPF would be proud of. :)

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 12:45 pm

      Was it the Krill Oil with Astaxanthin?

      • Traci
        January 24, 2014 | 7:25 am

        Yes, it was Nutrigold’s Krill Oil. And no, I am not allergic to any foods whatsoever. I’ve had tests run to see if I have any food sensitivities (with a ZYTO Scan – is weird but interesting!) and nothing showed up on it remotely close to seafood. And honestly, the technician running the device commented I have less sensitivities to foods than most people she sees. So really have no idea why I was so sensitive to the Krill Oil but once I read the other lady’s comments, I realized it may be my problem too and sure enough, it was. Obviously everyone just has to see for themselves and probably this won’t happen to most people.

    • Dana
      January 21, 2014 | 2:10 pm

      Are you allergic to shellfish? Krill are tiny shrimp. You’re presumably getting none of the proteins if the oil is purified, but it still might be enough to affect you.

      Even if you’re not allergic, you could be on the way to it. One of my brothers spent his entire childhood happily eating shrimp (we’re Cajun) and then when he was 18 developed an allergy.

    • Cora
      January 23, 2014 | 12:45 am

      I too, took krill oil with astaxanthin and I ended up with extremely tender breasts and was very sore in the vaginal area. Although I am going through menopause and had not had a period in almost a year, taking krill oil with astaxanthin brought one on. Once I stopped taking the supplement, it was still a good month before I felt back to normal. I researched and found that astaxanthin can affect some women hormonally. It sure messed me up! I have arthritis in my knees and was hoping to find relief with krill oil & astaxanthin. I am now going to try salmon oil.

  9. Caitlyn
    January 21, 2014 | 11:59 am

    I did not struggle with taking fermented cod liver oil at all during my last pregnancy, I won’t say I liked the taste, but enjoyed that I could actually hold it in my mouth for as long as I needed to before getting some water to swallow it down. Brewers yeast on the other hand… gag me a river.

  10. Juliette
    January 21, 2014 | 12:00 pm

    I don’t get it – I use green pastures FCLO in capsule form and it’s fine- doesn’t really taste very strong . Why can’t you all stomach an FCLO capsule? Did you get nauseated after swallowing during your pregnancy? I am not pregnant and have no issues with this. I also take the liquid form of flaxseed oil and the solid form of coconut oil every morning with a spoon so maybe I’m just really acclimated to choking down unorthodox oil supplements …. Anyway, I suppose I don’t understand why pill forms would bug you?

    • victoria
      January 21, 2014 | 8:33 pm

      I also consume green pasture FCLO with no problem. I take it everyday with all the rest of my supplements.

  11. Spatz Lawler via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:02 pm

    I take Carlson’s Fish Oil, its lemon flavored and I actually chew it because it doesn’t taste like fish at all. I chew it with my chewable vitamin C (which is sweet) and combined it like I’m chewing on lemonade :)

    http://www.luckyvitamin.com/images/product/xlarge/83654.jpg

  12. April
    January 21, 2014 | 12:03 pm

    I ordered liver pills from radiant life bc of the hype and it made me sick as a dog. They would not give me a refund and I was nausea and and the verge of throwing up I was pissed!

  13. Cathy
    January 21, 2014 | 12:03 pm

    Hi there, just a quick note to let know that I actually DID take the FCLO capsules with butter oil all during my entire pregnancy- I actually took 5 of them a day! They didn’t bother me at all. Of course, that’s my experience, but since everyone’s pregnancy is different, I just wanted to throw out there that it IS possible to be able to take them. I also drank over a quart a day of raw milk- couldn’t get enough! My doctor was pretty much horrified, but near the end was amazing at how great my blood and lab work was. My iron levels even went UP prior to going into labor. Ok, I am done with my brag moment, but really its just a reflection of how whole, real foods can make a powerful difference in your pregnancy health. Cheers to all!
    -Cathy

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 12:38 pm

      See, the problem with this is that to get to the recommended dose via capsules, a pregnant or nursing woman needs to take twenty capsules a day.

      Twenty! It was far too cost prohibitive for me to take the capsules, and I couldn’t stomach just the oils.

  14. Brandis L Roush via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:06 pm

    I like… actually I crave the cinnamon tingle CLO (and I’m 4.5 months pregnant, so far so good). But I know even that flavor makes some people gag, and my kids think it’s too spicy. I’m glad to see an alternative, honestly, because I never believed that FCLO was the mecca some treat it as. My kids manage to stay healthy without it, because I got tired of forcing them to take it and buying bottles of new (expensive…) flavors that would just sit in the fridge because we all hate them.

  15. Sarah L Sweetman via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:14 pm

    No problems at all. I take the FCLO/Butter Oil blend capsules from Green Pastures. My daughter takes it as well. Neither of us mind the taste and there is no fishy burping like I had with some other brands.

  16. Mikhaila Noller via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:18 pm

    I buy the gel and keep it in the back of the fridge. I take me dosage by scraping it off on my teeth and swallowing like a pill. Not awesome taste, but I’ve taken way worse stuff!

  17. Alison Westermann via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:18 pm

    Hmm interesting. I couldn’t stomach the blend while pregnant but had no problems taking liquid clo and bo seperately…

  18. Lisa
    January 21, 2014 | 12:19 pm

    Can I just take regular cod liver oil? What am I missing if it’s not fermented that I couldn’t get from fermented food? Thanks

  19. Tiffany Valls via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:22 pm

    The cinnamon tingle solves the taste problem – it’s like big red gum. Plus krill oil is bad for the ecosystem. Not a great recommendation.

  20. allison
    January 21, 2014 | 12:22 pm

    Let me introduce myself – I took fermented cod liver oil pregnant. With my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies I didn’t get morning sickness or all day sickness or whatever. I wasn’t nauseated by it…but then again I chased everything with a slice of orange and it helped tremendously.
    That said, it did repeat on me (I burped a bunch). I second the recommendation for cinnamon tingle.
    I can’t take the desiccated liver pregnant or not…but I can eat liver no problem – dunno what it is but when I open that bottle my body just says no.

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 12:45 pm

      Nice to meet you!

  21. Tiffany Valls via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:24 pm

    Brandis – even this blog post says nothing compares to it though you can mix things to try and get the necessary vitamins that you get from the fclo. She is claiming it IS the mecca everyone claims it is.

  22. Carrie Kienle via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:27 pm

    We’ve only tried the chocolate one and 2 out of my 3 kids ask for it everyday and love it. I don’t mind it either!

  23. Ryan Burrill via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    Instead of not taking cod liver oil one could simply choose health over being a whiny little biatch! :) oh but maybe youve found another super food that has mega doses of molecularly intact, bioabsorbable vitamins D, K2, A, just to name the most difficult to get vitamins in industrial western society….

    The only reasonable alternatives (meaning their nutrient density and QUALITY!) are wild caught fish eggs and wild caught/biologically-appropriately-fed organ meats, fats and marrows…

  24. Rashmi Michael via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:41 pm

    I tried the Krill oil that you recommended from Radiant Life and it just made me pile on weight like nobody’s business! I know for sure it was the krill oil because the day I strated it I noticed the weight going steadily up, and the day I stopped it after using it for a month and a half my weight started coming down. Maybe it just doesn’t suit me, but what a scare! :-( Also, my gynae is not sure about astaxanthin for pregnant women, she says it is better avoided. I’m not pregnant though, but it’s good to know.

  25. Elizabeth
    January 21, 2014 | 12:54 pm

    I actually took fermented cod liver oil gel throughout my last pregnancy and didn’t have a problem. Just found out last week I’m pregnant again :) and still taking my oils. Maybe the gender will be different this time and I won’t tolerate it ;)

  26. Wild Lantana via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 12:57 pm

    I’m still waiting for the shocking part???

  27. Gretchen
    January 21, 2014 | 1:00 pm

    What about alternatives for those of us with seafood/fish allergies? I’ve tried taking fish oil supplements of various kinds but they all either made me vomit or break out in hives. Is there an alternative to the krill oil? How about flax seed oil? That’s the only omega-3 supplement I’ve been able to find that I can actually take so far. I would love your feedback on more options though!

  28. Julie Dike via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 1:00 pm

    I took FCLO capsules right through pregnancy, had a big healthy baby, and later read that FCLO is associated with fewer instances of low birth weight. Never could stomach the liquid. Keeping the capsules in the fridge or freezer can help you avoid the taste.

  29. Pat
    January 21, 2014 | 1:01 pm

    My mother used to give us kids cod liver oil (and rose hip syrup) every day – as far as I can recall, it was the norm in post-war Britain.

    I would not encourage people to take krill oil, because krill is the foundation of the ocean food chain, and the creatures of the ocean need it far more than we do. Obligatory for them, optional for humans.

  30. Lane
    January 21, 2014 | 1:01 pm

    Sounds like a bit of an over statement. My wife just had her baby. She had no trouble with green pasture’s cod liver oil the entire time she was pregnant. No biggie.

  31. Food Renegade via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 1:06 pm

    Julie Dike — My only problem with taking the capsules is that to get to the WAPF recommended dosage of Vitamin A for pregnant & nursing mommas from FCLO capsules, you have to take 20 capsules per day! That’s an awful lot AND very expensive.

  32. Food Renegade via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 1:09 pm

    Ryan Burrill — I think you misinterpreted the post, or missed the part where I wrote (in big, bold letters): “The truth is, there is no one powerhouse supplement as effective as fermented cod liver oil. None.”

  33. Jan
    January 21, 2014 | 1:42 pm

    Before Christmas, I started taking two FCLO capsules a day, per the bottle’s instructions. I bought the capsules to start with, because I thought they would be easier to travel with. What IS the WAPF recommended dosage? (Don’t need it for pregnancy or fertility, just optimal health and Vit. D3 deficiency.)

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 1:51 pm

      Enough capsules to equal a teaspoon. I think that comes to what? 10 capsules?

  34. MamaCassi
    January 21, 2014 | 2:16 pm

    thank you. i’ve done fermented cod liver oil for years now, but as you point out the cost effectiveness and amounts needed for pregnancy can be limiting. i find i tend to give it more to my children (who love their cod liver oil) and not taking it as well as them especially when pregnant when texture is strongly offensive.

    my Vit D was low this year so i ended up making liver pills to take and supplementing w/ vit D as well. this balance has definitely been better for me in the early stages of pregnancy. i don’t have morning sickness or major food aversions (frying onions and bacon are not good for some odd reason) but i do think it’s important to find something that works for you.

    and if it’s not the high doses of FCLO needed, then knowing other options is SO HELPFUL!!!

    Thank you!

    • Kristen
      January 21, 2014 | 3:06 pm

      You’re welcome!

  35. Bet Bateman via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 2:36 pm

    If we consume krill we are taking from the bottom of the ocean’s food chain and that is why penguins are dying from lack of krill??

  36. Food Renegade via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 2:59 pm

    Bet — I addressed this issue in my post about krill oil. You can read it here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/why-i-started-taking-krill-oil-astaxanthin-2/

  37. Joy Easley via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 3:11 pm

    I took Nordic Naturals cod liver oil capsules for years, starting with my first pregnancy 9 years ago, but just placed my first order for Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil capsules. But 20 capsules for pregnant & nursing mamas?!? :o My naturopath says 4–That’s a huge difference…

  38. Food Renegade via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 3:16 pm

    Joy Easley — The WAPF recommends 2 tsp. of fermented cod liver oil per day for pregnant & nursing mommas. That’s 20 capsules, last I checked.

  39. Joy Easley via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 3:21 pm

    Just read your krill oil article, which assuaged my worries about sustainability and affecting the food supply of whales and other sea creatures that depend on krill to survive. Dr. Mercola also recommends krill oil over cod liver oil, but I hadn’t switched because of the sustainability factor, so thank you for addressing that issue. :) Do you take this krill product in place of FCLO altogether or in addition to it? Wondering if it comes in liquid form, too, for my 21-month-old? I’m betting the taste is better than FCLO, which would be a huge help in getting it into her. ;)

  40. Bet Bateman via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 3:42 pm

    We have over fished many species and now we will over fish krill. The death of penguins due to lack of krill is just the tip of the ice berg

  41. Food Renegade via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 3:45 pm

    I take it in place of FCLO, in combination with the other supplements linked to in the article I shared above about what to take instead of FCLO. I don’t think it comes in liquid form, but you could check. Because it’s from shellfish, though, you may want to hold back and/or carefully monitor giving it to your young one. If you want a truly tasteless fish oil (in oil form) that’s unlikely to send up any red flags for giving to kiddos, you may want to check into the raw ratfish liver oil brought to the US by Archie Welch. I’d have recommended it in my post, but I don’t think his supply is adequate enough yet to meet a large demand (and that name! RATfish? Not a strong selling point, LOL). You can read more about it here: http://www.ratfishoil.org/ Joy Easley

  42. T Hudson
    January 21, 2014 | 3:47 pm

    I was taking fermented CLO at the beginning of the year with no problems, but quit after the bottle ran out. I just didn’t want to spend $50 a bottle. However, my weight began to shoot up with no lifestyle changes at all. (I’m going to be 40 in July.) Could the weight gain be linked to no longer taking the oil? I would be interested in your opinion. Thanks!

  43. A Burman
    January 21, 2014 | 4:43 pm

    Thank you for this article. After reading the WAPF website about cod liver oil and looking at their recommendations, I decided on one of the Good selections due to price and not knowing if I could stomach the fermented cod liver oil. I went with Sonne’s Old Fashioned Cod Liver Oil which I purchase from Vitacost. I am pleased that it is not any stronger than the taste of tuna to me. The bottle says it is molecularly distilled. I googled this and found this webpage on the subject: http://www.omegavia.com/molecularly-distilled-fish-oil/. It sounds like a good process to me, but I am not a scientist.

  44. Joelle Jenkins Einerson via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 5:17 pm

    Thank you for posting! I’m 14 weeks and haven’t been able to stomach FCLO

  45. Andrea Ennis via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 6:06 pm

    I laughed when I read this earlier. I had no problem taking my FCLO infusion before pregnancy, but have not been able to get it down at all. I’ve had no nausea my entire pregnancy but it just has no appeal LOL but I plan to try again as soon as baby comes! I’m 37 weeks so not much longer :)

  46. Joy Easley via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 6:22 pm

    Andrea and Joelle, try the capsule form of FCLO from Green Pastures to bypass the taste issue. :)

  47. Food Renegade via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 6:52 pm

    For those wondering why we don’t just take capsules, it’s a combination of two things. 1) Sometimes when you’re preggers you can’t keep the capsules down. And 2) To get the recommended dosage that WAPF encourages for pregnant & nursing mothers (2 tsp. daily), you’d need to take 20 capsules! That gets really expensive, really quickly. Then factor in trying to keep 20 capsules down, and you see why many might want alternatives.

  48. Jacqueline Gross Garretson via Facebook
    January 21, 2014 | 9:11 pm

    4 months with my third and happy to say I’m taking my cod liver oil daily. I take it at night before bed which makes it easy to keep down. Thanks for the suggestions in case I can’t stomach it at some point.

  49. abby
    January 21, 2014 | 10:38 pm

    what is the difference between fermented and reg cod liver oil? I tried the fermented and couldn’t take the taste. I was thinking of ordering the capsules but realized its so much cheaper not fermented. just wondering if its easier to stomach the non fermented?

  50. Stefani Russell via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 12:28 am

    Oh my gosh I had no idea I was supposed to take that many capsules D: I’ve only been taking two to four daily and I’m nursing!! Sad day. I’ll have to leave the pills for my husband and buy the liquid form. :(. Question though. I have been taking both the high vitamin butter oil and fclo because of the book “Cure Tooth Decay”. Does that sound right to you? Because it sounded like that’s not normal to do

  51. Jennifer Murphy-Buck via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 2:14 am

    Following

  52. Joy Easley via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 2:46 am

    Oh yeah, I forgot about the 20 capsules thing–Damn. Good thing I ordered 3 bottles, plus a bottle of liquid for the baby! I’m betting that she won’t like the taste (though she was happily taking her regular cod liver oil until just recently), so I’ll probably wind up taking the liquid after all. ;)

  53. Courtney Brown via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 3:37 am

    I really appreciate this article. Breaks it down nicely, and I am among the people who have a hard time stomaching oils and especially dislike seafood. But, if the life extension k-2 is too expensive, do you think other brands are okay, or are there specific forms/things about other K2 supplements I should avoid?

  54. Kelly
    January 22, 2014 | 6:52 am

    Just wanted to let everyone know..the vitamin D whole food supplement you are recommending not only contains soy, but gluten.

  55. Kelli R
    January 22, 2014 | 9:59 am

    Every time I try fclo, I always end up with little welts/hives all over. Same thing happens with the fermented k2. Thinking it might be an amine sensitivity…still researching that though. Wonder if anyone else has a similar response??? Can take the krill oil with no problems and the desiccated liver as well. Thanks for the timely post as I was wondering if there is a better fish oil other than the krill.

  56. Lydia Brooke Carr via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 10:58 am

    I am 35 weeks pregnant, and I have been taking it the whole time, somehow. Just thought I would weigh in :) Our family takes the Oslo Orange, mixed with a little cider. My kids cheer when it’s time to take it – probably because it’s the only time they get anything resembling juice! I take it along with the skate oil, which is supposed to be synergistic (and is less expensive than the butter oil. Plus I eat lots of butter). I chase it with homemade elderberry syrup, then sit down to breakfast. I’m thankful it hasn’t been hard to take. Magnesium supplementation made a huge difference in my ability to stomach things and in my level of nausea at the beginning.

  57. Haley Martin Kunz via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 4:08 pm

    Thanks for writing this! I’m 10 weeks, and havent taken my fclo/hvbo regularly. The smell and texture are enough to turn my stomach just thinking about it. I am taking 3 oz of raw liver pills a weeks, so i wouldnt need to take the desiccated live capsules. I’m trying to figure out how cost efficient would it be to start with the krill oil and the hvbo. So my question is about dosages of the two to equal the nutritional benefits of 2 teaspoons fclo/hvbo? I’m not sure how to work the dosages

  58. Haley Martin Kunz via Facebook
    January 22, 2014 | 7:15 pm

    Thanks for writing this! I havent taken my fclo/hvbo regularly. The smell and texture are enough to turn my stomach just thinking about it. I am taking 3 oz of raw liver pills a weeks, so i wouldnt need to take the desiccated liver capsules. I’m trying to figure out how cost efficient would it be to start with the krill oil and the hvbo. So my question is about dosages of the two to equal the nutritional benefits of 2 teaspoons fclo/hvbo? I’m not sure how to work the dosages

  59. Dennis
    January 23, 2014 | 9:54 pm

    I take several of the capsuls daily with no problem.

  60. Erin
    January 24, 2014 | 5:38 pm

    I came to ask about the D3 supplement recommended in the article, too. Do you have a gluten-free recommendation? I used to take Bio-D-Mulsion on top of FCLO & BO but I’m in the market for a new D supp. Suggestions? Thanks1

  61. Juliette
    January 25, 2014 | 12:37 pm

    Hey wait, where does it say to take 20 capsules? The FCLO bottle from green pastures does not specify vitamin a and d content so I don’t know how the conversion is being made. And it says on the bottle only to take 2/ day! Would love to have link re this 20 capsule recommendation. Also where can you find FCLO in liquid (icky) form so that it is more cost effective?

    • Kristen Michaelis
      January 27, 2014 | 3:23 pm

      The WAPF recommendations for pregnant and nursing women recommend taking 2 tsp of fermented cod liver oil daily. That’s the equivalent of 20 capsules.

  62. Meagan @ Growing Up Herbal
    January 26, 2014 | 10:15 am

    Thanks so much for this post Kristen. I’ve heard a lot about Krill Oil. I do have two questions for you though.

    1. I just recently found out that cod fish are bottom feeders, therefore, depending on where they’re harvest from, they can have a large amount of toxins… yes in their liver… and then we get concentrated doses of that when we take cod-liver oil. Now, do you know how Green Pastures handles that? Is there something special about their cod fish or the fermenting process that corrects that somehow?

    2. If a person decided to continue with the fermented cod-liver oil because of all it’s benefits, I’d think a yearly detox would be beneficial (a must really) to get rid of any toxins they’ve picked up from the cod-liver oil. As in a metal detox using a gentle bentonite clay cleanse or something. What do you think about that??

    Thanks so much!!

  63. Edith
    January 27, 2014 | 3:03 pm

    You’ve NEVER met a pregnant woman who could stand Cod Liver Oil? Never? Statistically zero?

    You must not know many informed pregnant women…

    None of the listed alternatives compare to the perfect synergy of CLO, and some of them would end up being very costly. You’d do a better service to your readers recommending one of many flavored Cod Liver Oil over this patchwork of products…

    Sincerely,
    A 5-months Pregnant Woman Loving her Fermented Cod Liver Oil Born of a Mother Who Took Cod Liver Oil With Every One of Her Five Pregnancies

    • Kristen Michaelis
      January 27, 2014 | 3:16 pm

      It’s nice to e-meet you! And yes, I’ve never met one, as in ZERO of my pregnant friends have been able to stomach it through their whole pregnancies (myself included). I wouldn’t have written it if it weren’t true.

      By the way, what does being informed have to do with being able to keep down a certain food? While I think it’s fantastic that you’ve been able to stomach it, I certainly couldn’t (despite desperately wanting to!).

      And, I completely agree with you! Did you miss the part of the post in big, bold letters that said: “The truth is, there is no one powerhouse supplement as effective as fermented cod liver oil. None.”?

    • haley
      January 29, 2014 | 11:34 pm

      Hi Edith, just because my body can’t handle the foul taste and texture of fclo doesn’t mean that I don’t know any better. As if I haven’t thought of, and tried the flavored versions. My pregnant body must be ill-informed.

      Sincerely,

      A First Time, 11 week Pregnant Woman Who Doesn’t Need Your Humble Bragging Guilt Who’s Mother Took Cod Liver Oil As A Child.

      ps- Kristen, I understand if you delete this. But I COULD NOT with Edith’s comment. All sorts of WTF-ery.

  64. Jaclyn
    January 29, 2014 | 8:06 pm

    Totally gonna brag here: I haven’t had an aversion to fclo my whole pregnancy so far, and I’m at week 27! I have to swallow it down quickly with water, but I did that before I was pregnant. ;)

    Eating the foods I *need* to eat, however, has been more difficult, as I eat grain-free and it seems a pregnant woman can only eat so much meat and eggs. Any other suggestions?

  65. Juliette
    January 31, 2014 | 1:23 pm

    Where do you get the conversion for 2 tsp = 20 capsules?

    Thank you ! :-)

  66. Juliette
    February 1, 2014 | 1:37 pm

    Ah I just did the mg conversion on the bottle – you are right about 20 pills/ day. I’m only taking two right now :-/. I’m not pregnant however. How much does wapf recommend for adults who are not pregnant? Crap looks like I need to buy the liquid stuff if I want a better deal notwithstanding .

  67. Kelly
    February 3, 2014 | 4:27 pm

    Hi,
    1st off thanks for the article! It really hits home as I have bought and wasted a good deal of cod liver oil (fermented and non) over the years because I just can’t get it down day after day and eventually it sits in the fridge until it expires/ goes bad. I too had thought of finding something else to replace CLO but I was just too lazy I guess to figure it out so this is really a help. My question is though how much of each supplement you take to replace the cod liver oil? Also, I was thinking of replacing the desiccated liver with frozen pieces of beef liver as we have a ton from the cattle we processed this year and thought I’d just perhaps take double the weight of the dried version assuming that at least half the weight is lost during the desiccation process. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated.

  68. Monique
    February 11, 2014 | 12:23 pm

    Hi I was wondering about your thoughts on taking fclo during the last 8 weeks of pregnancy. I read conflicting info saying it might increase risk of hemmorage. I have had scant bleeding through all of my deliveries.. But I didn’t start taking fclo until last year. My supplements are new chapter prenatal, fclo, thorne research d3 k2 (thoughts on this supplement?) I drink raw milk and eat grass fed beef when I can get it.. I just ran out and the next batch won’t be in until May ..boohoo…
    This is particularly important to me this tine because I have been diagnosed with a placenta previa with a suspected accreta (dashing all hopes I a hbac there)… But my risk of hemmoraging is already there :/. So I am 26 weeks along and if they take baby at 34 weeks… I should stop this week. Problem is I didn’t get my flu shot and I feel the fclo really helps with my immune system.. Sigh… Anything I should boost in my prenatal cocktail mix (I know your not a dr but guess what? Drs have no idea wth I am talking about with these supplements anyway, so I am already winging it!)…
    Concerning your post.. I put a teaspoon of oslo orange fclo in a shot of raw milk.. And shoot it back… No problems here! I cannot stomach the butter oil omg it’s stink feet… Makes me gag… But if you tell me to beef up on that.. I will find a way!!!! Oh and I do have a organic, pastured liver in my freezer so I think I might cut that up and take mini pills ;). Sorry about the length of this post.. Stressed & anxious and there isn’t a lot of info out there on nutrition and accreta!
    Thanks,

    Monique

  69. Daleen Amb
    February 18, 2014 | 11:03 pm

    I’m 33 weeks and I have taken my FCLO throughout, but I’ve met many people (non-pregnant) who couldn’t stomach it.

    My 3 yr old takes it without a problem (the unflavoured one).

    Not sure why some can take it and others are just totally grossed out? Anyone with a theory?

  70. Erika
    February 20, 2014 | 8:24 pm

    This is a Gem…. Thank you for the info! I’ve been making my own dehydrated liver capsules (local grass fed beef) and eating a lot of grass fed butter (Kerrygold)….. All to help my teeth after baby #4! Our family had a very difficult time affording the FCLO for all of us, so I began experimenting with the liver capsules/ butter regimen after reading Cure Tooth Decay. I can tell you from experience that it does help! I don’t experience any tooth sensitivity when I am taking them. I’ll look into the Krill oil as well, but I wanted to share my experience in case there were others out there who honestly couldn’t afford the FCLO.

  71. Daniela
    June 13, 2014 | 9:23 am

    Great post! Now my question would be how much to take of each

  72. Katheryn Barrett via Facebook
    June 17, 2014 | 10:12 pm

    The other options are less cost-prohibitive as well.

  73. Food Renegade via Facebook
    June 17, 2014 | 10:32 pm

    Indeed, they are Katheryn!

  74. jjackie patti
    June 18, 2014 | 5:22 pm

    I can’t do FLCO at all – have tried all the flavors and the capsules. It not only tastes horrid, but burns my throat for hours no matter what I chase it with. For me, it is painful enough that if it bestowed eternal life, it wouldn’t be worth it.

    The WAPF recommendations for CLO include a couple capsules that are tasteless. They’re labelled as “good” instead of “best.” That’s what I do.

    I don’t do butter oil. I buy organic butter from a local dairy that uses only pastured milk. I buy a pound at a time until it gets real dark and then I buy 40 lbs and stick it in my freezer. Much yummier way to get my D3 and K2 – I don’t have to “take” butter.

    I also buy D3 drops and K2 drops, which are nearly tasteless. Hubby will not take any supplement regularly, so I add these to soups, stews, braises, eggnog, potato salad, any food that has a liquid bit to it. He does not eat fish, so haven’t figured out a way to get much in the way of omega-3s in him, beyond the small doses in pastured meat and dairy.

  75. Becky
    June 28, 2014 | 4:07 pm

    I’m reading a lot of conflicting information about fish oils. I don’t eat fish and am trying to find the best way to supplement. I’ve read that the fermentation process actually causes the oil to become rancid, which is why it has such a strong fishy taste. But it seems that people only recommend the fermented types.

  76. Trudy
    August 1, 2014 | 9:47 pm

    Thanks for this! I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who has a strong aversion to fermented cod liver oil during pregnancy. Prior to pregnancy, I was eating a very high fat, nutrient dense diet. About 6 weeks into the pregnancy, all I wanted / could stomach were simple carbs and salty foods. :( I have been forcing myself daily to take the Blue Ice Infusion (one tbsp, since coconut oil represents 65% of the dose, I think). It’s supposed to be more palatable than straight cod liver oil, but dear lord! It’s horrid!! My hubby takes it no problem (I even have a flavored version)- but I hold my nose while I force it down and still gag. Then I burp it up forever afterward and have indigestion. It is literally the worst part of my day and I put it off as long as possible. For now I am making it work, but I honestly don’t know how long I can keep it up. So glad to know there may be some decent alternatives, albeit less optimal.

  77. Ally
    August 23, 2014 | 5:27 pm

    Thank for all this information. I’ve been taking Cod Liver Oil for a few months now — first the fermented kind with high vitamin butter oil from Green Pastures, and now the regular one from Carlson’s. Unfortunately, both kinds have caused me to develop small rashes on my upper cheeks. Any idea why this would be? I thought perhaps it was linked to the fermentation process, but switching to unfermented CLO has not helped. Any idea what supplement I could take to up my soluble vitamin A intake? I am taking it to help clear my skin. Thanks in advance!

  78. Erin Flannigan via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 7:02 pm

    I’ve never had a problem taking during a whole pregnancy. I just forget sometimes, but I don’t find it repulsive ever :) There you met one :)

  79. Nicole Alexy via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 7:12 pm

    I actually don’t mind the taste either.

  80. Shannon Smietana via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 7:43 pm

    Any input on a ‘beginner’ flavor?? I’ve never tried before but would like too

  81. Susanna Martin via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 7:46 pm

    I took it my whole pregnancy last time. But I took the capsules from Green Pasture.

  82. Emily Richie via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 7:50 pm

    I put the chocolate creme flavor in the fridge and took it a half teaspoon at a time and swallowed it like capsules. Worked perfect!

  83. Jillyn Allred via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 9:02 pm

    I struggle with any pill while pregnant :-/ horrible gag reflex.

    Having the fclo in a capsule was better than the plain gel though

  84. Autumn Ison Michaelides via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 9:16 pm

    Without issue I took a Green Pasture cinnamon tingle for the duration of a pregnancy, even through morning sickness. It probably helped that I had taken it for a couple of years beforehand.

  85. Keri Hessel via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 9:25 pm

    I only had a problem in the 1st trimester.

  86. Ashley Kelso Sherrill via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 9:33 pm

    I took the capsules. They were much better then the fish oil I’m taking now for my cholesterol. I burp it up for hours.

  87. Michelle Stock via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 10:17 pm

    FCLO is soo palatable! The cinnamon tingle from green pastures tastes great.

  88. Melissa Lewie Wetzel via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 10:38 pm

    I’m pregnant and use this brand. It is processed correctly so the oils aren’t rancid.

  89. Darcie Mayo via Facebook
    August 25, 2014 | 11:25 pm

    I ate right and exercised… didnt take cod liver oil and had two beautiful babies who are now almost adults.. why on earth take that juat because your pregnant? What’s the latest?

  90. Kris Boes Porter via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 12:26 am

    Took cinnamon tingle the whole time I was pregnant with no problem?

  91. Brandi Shaw via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 1:31 am

    Put it in a gel cap

  92. Brandi Shaw via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 1:31 am

    But your right it is vile tasting.

  93. Brandi Shaw via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 1:33 am

    Ashley Kelso Sherrill, I hear krill oil is really good omega and since it isn’t fish it’s usually burbless. Plus it’s also better for your triglycerides than plain ol’ fish oil caps.

  94. Julia Mosack via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 6:20 am

    I’ve been taking the Oslo orange my entire pregnancy.

  95. Liz Leona Kadri Gonzagowski via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 10:49 am

    1 tsp Fermented cod liver oil (unflavored) followed by raw honey every day…easy peasy! My 10 yo son will even take it! Your alternatives seem very viable as well. I don’t think Sally would object too profusely…lol

  96. Christine A. Lacey Papp via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 11:14 am

    I ordered fermented cod liver oil online but I got cinnamon flavored. I put it in a little bit of water. It’s not too bad!

  97. Joyanne Ludington via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 2:48 pm

    yep, I’m def one of those pregnant women. I opted for grassfed beef liver when I could get it (obviously did not often enough though), Omega 3/krill oil supps, and food-based D3 supps. Will go back on the FCLO once I pop and can have kp free arms again! :) Even burping up the Omega 3 capsules once they dissolved in my stomach and I burped them up made me want to lose my lunch a few times! Fish oil just tastes gross! :(

  98. Carly M Bautista via Facebook
    August 26, 2014 | 5:46 pm

    Yep caps from green pastures are great! I can’t stomach the gel at any time but my kids love it!

  99. Nina Rhoades via Facebook
    August 27, 2014 | 11:26 am

    I took it (and brewers yeast!) my entire pregnancy

  100. Rebecca Fuentes via Facebook
    August 27, 2014 | 2:01 pm

    I took TwinLabs mint flavors cod liver oil (it’s not fermented). It’s not the gross emulsified type, just the flavored. I would put it in water, drink it while taking my other vitamins just before bedtime and have a dark chocolate chaser.

  101. Javier
    September 16, 2014 | 8:53 pm

    I don’t understand if people are against polyunsaturated oils why is fermented cod liver oil ok?

    Polyunsaturated oils are VERY unstable, oxidizing quickly when exposed to oxygen, light and heat—even just sitting in a bottle, but also when they go into our bodies—and turning rancid. (including omegas) Also Fermented foods require a glucose source to create (metabolize) a by-product e.g. lactic acid that prevents the food from decomposing. The result is a pleasant sour taste that one would find with sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, etc. Cod liver oil has no glucose and cod livers have very little glucose (mostly protein, fat, water and some minerals). The livers and the oil simply go from fresh to rancid in a short period of time. If left to continue decomposing the oil will become putrid leaving a foul smell and taste.

    Furthermore, Cod, like Shark, are long-lived fish. As they go about living for years and years, and during that time, they accumulate environmental toxins.
    And the toxins are most concentrated in the livers. So when you drink Cod liver oil, you should expect environmental toxins! That just makes sense!

    Sadly, atlantic Cod is an over-fished and threatened species.

    Why not just eat more fish and liver and gain similar yet better benefits since it’s a food source?

  102. Jennifer
    September 18, 2014 | 12:14 pm

    Hi Kristin,

    I love your book! I give it as gifts regularly. I have an issue with FCLO – I could take during and after pregnancy and I eat foods high in Vit D. However, during and after pregnancy, my vit D levels were 36 and 40 – REALLY low and I was suffering from some other health issues from low vit D. How could this be?? I read from Dr. Mercola that vit A toxicity could prevent the uptake of vit D, but wondering if this has come up for you and you might have some insight. Thanks! Jennifer (now taking 5,000 of vit D3 from metagenics)

  103. Marissa
    October 9, 2014 | 3:21 pm

    I started taking the FCLO/HVBO caps this morning…my face is beet red. I also keep coughing and my throat feels tight. I looked it up online and it looks like my shellfish allergy might be causing it. If this is the case, krill oil obviously isn’t appropriate either. What are your thoughts on emu oil and HVBO instead?

  104. Traci
    October 11, 2014 | 8:40 am

    Do you know if there is a ratio of D3 to K2 that needs to be taken?

  105. Jeanette Dupree Meyer via Facebook
    October 18, 2014 | 10:33 am

    Cod liver oil, krill, fish oils, any of those….make my husband’s eyes bleed….I mean really bleed, flowing. No whites of his eyes at all. Have you ever heard of that?

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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