Why We Take Cod Liver Oil (and how to get your kids to swallow it!)

When most people find out that we take cod liver oil at our house, the look on their face says it all.


And you know what? Their assumptions are right. It tastes nasty (especially the fermented type). Over time, I think I’ve just gotten used to it and can swallow it without too much problem.

But my kids? That’s another story. Up until recently I would try to figure out every possible way to get them to take it – bribery, chasing it down with chocolate chips and even PAYING them to take it…all were unsuccessful.

I since have found THE BEST solution that has proven effective in getting my kids to swallow it without running away or gagging – all 4 of them have taken it all week with NO problems. I’ll share my fool-proof tip down at the bottom. But first, you’ll need to know why you’d even want to go through the trouble of taking this awesome supplement.

What is Cod Liver Oil?

Cod liver oil is a dietary supplement which provides great nutritional benefits – especially Vitamin A and Vitamin D. This oil has been consumed for centuries, especially by those living near large bodies of water and in traditional European villages. In fact, it is rumored that the Vikings would have a perpetual barrel drum of fermenting cod livers outside their doors.

We use it for it’s myriad of health benefits – and we especially try to take it every day during the dreary and often sunless winters here in Michigan. Vitamin D is such an important thing and is one that most of us do not get enough of. We’ve noticed less sickness, better moods, shorter duration of sicknesses when we DO get a bug, and for me (sorry if TMI) I’ve noticed an absence of those nasty pre-period headaches and cramps. BONUS!

*Please note: taking cod liver oil is NOT the same as taking fish oil capsules: 1/2 Tbsp of cod liver oil has the same amount of elongated omega 3 fatty acids as does TWELVE  1,000mg fish oil capsules.

What are the Health Benefits?

Here are list of only SOME of the many things cod liver oil has been found to possibly help with:

- provides fat soluble vitamins A and D (Vitamin D is needed to help our bodies absorb calcium, is useful in preventing depression and for the treatment of osteoporosis)

- provides elongated Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA (EPA is needed for nerve transmission and retina formation, DHA can help treat/prevent depression)

- helps promote the absorption of calcium and magnesium (which in turn can help lower blood pressure)

- can increase bone mineral density

- reduces pain and damage in inflamed joints due to arthritis

- beneficial for helping to treat colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease

- when taken orally, helps maintain soft skin and minimize wrinkles

- a study in China found that cod liver oil protects against childhood leukemia

- provides accelerated wound healing  - Source

- results in decreased incidences of Type 1 Diabetes in babies of women who ingested cod liver oil during pregnancy  - Source

- “A Norwegian study of more than 68,000 women reported that female cancer patients who took daily cod-liver oil supplements had significantly reduced mortality (25% for all cancers, 45% for lung cancer) compared to women who did not take such supplements.”Source 1 and Source 2

- may be a great complimentary treatment for MS (multiple schlerosis) – Source

- effective in decreasing morning muscle stiffness, swollen/painful joints and overall pain intensity in those with Rheumatoid Arthritis  - Source

I also found these fascinating bits of info in an article about the manufacturing of cod liver oil – and how it was used in history as a superfood:

Cod Liver Oil in Britain

“The British desperately needed not only food but cod-liver oil. They had a history of being great cod-liver oil enthusiasts. For centuries before it was refined for ingestion, a blackish residue from livers left in barrels was used as a balm, as it still is in West Africa. In the 1780’s British medicine decided that cod-liver oil was a remedy for rheumatism, then a catchall diagnosis for aches and pains.

“During the nineteenth century, it was used to treat tuberculosis, malnutrition, and other poverty-related diseases. Between the wars, cod-liver oil became a major business in Hull and was used both for livestock and humans. During World War II, the British Ministry of Food, concerned about the effect of a tightened food supply on health, provided free cod-liver oil for pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five, and adults over forty.

“School nurses forcefully administered spoonfuls of the vile-tasting liquid, while adults were often given it with orange juice. All this oil came from Iceland, where it contributed to a secondary Icelandic trade that remained and prospered after the war.

“The British government, believing that the oil had produced the healthiest children England had ever seen, despite bombings and rationing, continued the program until 1971. It was finally discontinued because people refused to take the oil. Icelanders, however, still take it, as do many Americans.”

Source: Mark Kurlansky, Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, pages 154-155.  -Source

What are the Best Brands to take?

Our family has only used the high-vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pastures. Fermented is certainly tougher to get down, but because it is fermented, the nutrients are more concentrated and so you have to take less! The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends the following brands in the U.S (taken from Cod Liver Oil Basics and Recommendations).

In the United States

BEST (Available Online/Mail Order):

  • Green Pasture Products: Blue Ice High-Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil
  • Dr. Ron’s Ultra-Pure: Blue Ice High-Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil
  • Radiant Life: Blue Ice High-Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil
  • Natural Health Advocates: Blue Ice High-Vitamin Fermented Cod Liver Oil

GOOD (and available in Stores):

  • Carlson soft gel Cod Liver Oil Super 1,000 mg capsules
  • Nature’s Answer liquid cod liver oil
  • NOW double strength Cod Liver Oil capsules
  • Sonne’s Cod Liver Oil
  • Swanson double strength Cod Liver Oil capsules
  • Twin Labs non-emulsified liquid Cod Liver Oil

Here’s the trick I’ve been using! How to get it down!

This is the BEST trick I have come up with…during the winter months especially, I give all of us a Tablespoon of Homemade Elderberry Syrup to help prevent/treat the colds and flu. I have found that mixing the Elderberry Syrup with the squirt of fermented cod liver oil in a shot glass helps the kids get it down without any trouble! It actually tastes good! All 4 of my kids (plus my hubby) have remarked that they can take it this way.

Now, we use the liquid form and currently are using the Oslo Orange flavor. If you just cannot find a way to get that stuff down, they also offer capsules (more expensive) and even a gel form. I also know that some brands have several “kid-approved” flavors of emulsified cod liver oil. I have not tried that yet, but I know others who have had good luck with them.

Give it a try – tell me what you think. In the meantime, cheers to good health…and bottoms up!



Cod Liver Oil: The Number One Super Food - Weston A. Price Foundation website

The Advantages of Cod Liver Oil – Livestrong.com

Update on Cod Liver Oil Manufacture – Weston A. Price Foundation website


Disclosures: This blog post contains some affiliate links which can earn me a small commission if clicked or a purchase is made. Thanks! Also, I am not a physician, so please do not take my suggestions as medical advice. Please seek the advice of a qualified health practitioner.


This was shared at: Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Real Food Wednesdays, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Simple Lives Thursday, Wellness Wednesdays

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