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

***UPDATE: As of August 2015, I no take Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Here is why: http://realfoodeater.com/new-fermented-cod-liver-oil-dangers/

I have chosen to use THIS regular cod liver oil or a Vit D3 supplement instead.

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. (And I use the word “supplement” here very loosely – it’s actually FOOD!)


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 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). (update: we now use the Rosita’s brand of regular Cod Liver Oil)

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



Cod Liver OIl shots


Here’s the trick I’ve been using 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!

If you’re interested in eating more real, wholes food and are local to West Michigan, click here to join my food buyer’s club!

We also use ground up fruit/veggies in a capsule and gummy form to help stay healthy. Learn more about that HERE.



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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  4. Leave a Reply

    February 20, 2016

    Oh! You are so cute! I am a foodie, naturalist and mother of the greatest two little girls. My family has some harshly strict diet restrictions from a couple different illnesses and it can be a struggle having to prepare multiple meals for different individual palates (literally was my worst nightmare) and still be healthy and efficient. Well the baby dha by Nordic naturals (vegetarian is best for my daughter with eczema & allergies). It helps my daughter but it’s so darn nasty. She spilled a brand new bottle on the carpet and 4 months later the smell is still there. ***What I need to desperately know is if there is another flavor of something I can use to strongly flavor the oil? We can not use elderberry, citrus, nightshades, grains or pseudo grains, no raspberry, strawberry or melon to flavor. PLEASE help. Thank you.

    • Leave a Reply

      February 20, 2016

      Have you tried adding regular honey? I would think that would help?

  5. Leave a Reply

    May 6, 2014

    does anyone know what the dosage should be for the Carlson soft gel Cod Liver Oil Super 1,000 mg capsules for a 6 month old.Pls can someone help!

    baby reacts to the fermented cod liver oil so thats why we are trying the next thing.

    • Leave a Reply

      February 20, 2016

      Hi Debbie, try Nordic Naturals baby dha. It’s about $22 and has wonderful ingredients and great results. It’s specifically formulated for babies and nursing mothers and has a small dropper with dosing instructions in small mL increments. I buy mine at Amazon.com.

  6. Leave a Reply

    December 16, 2013

    Thanks for the info. I just got the green pastures stuff, and haven’t tried it yet. I wasn’t sure of the dosage for kids and adults. We do elderberry syrup as well. . . that’s a great idea to mix them. I have a question, my kids have fish allergies. I’m guessing cod liver oil would not be okay for those who are allergic to fish, since it’s from fish. Would you agree?

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa @ RealFoodEater
      December 21, 2013

      Hi Deborah – There is a “serving size” listed on the back, which is for adults. There are no “dosing” of it as it is considered a food and not medicine. I usually give my kids 1-2mls and my hubby and I usually take 2-3mls daily.

      As for the fish allergies, I have no experience with that. What sorts of fish are they allergic to and what kind of reaction do they get?

      I would think an Omega 3 and Vitamin D supplement would be a good alternative for them?

  7. Leave a Reply

    November 6, 2013

    This article was so informative and I am so happy to find a homemade elderberry syrup recipe!! I was wondering if you give the syrup and oil mixture everyday? Thank you 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa @ RealFoodEater
      November 6, 2013

      Thanks! Yes, we try to remember to take it every day. And you can give it several times a day if someone isn’t feeling well or feels like they are coming down with something! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Leave a Reply

    October 22, 2013

    We take Green Pastures FCLBO and my kids like the chocolate kind right on the spoon! *shiver* I take the capsules. 😉 Thanks for linking up to Wellness Wednesdays!

  9. Leave a Reply

    October 9, 2013

    I have been resisting this because it sounds so awful, but I really think my son needs anything that will boost his immune system. I have a question about this vs fish oil. This would essentially replace the need for fish oil correct? You would NOT do both? Also how awful is it? I mix my sons fish oil into yogurt or applesauce and he eats it no problem. Would the taste overpower those items? Thanks. We have been sick and are taking your elderberry syrup everyday trying to get better faster. 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Melissa @ RealFoodEater
      October 10, 2013

      Yes, you would not need to do both fish oil and this. It’s not very tasty. If you mix this into something, the whole bowl of it would be pretty bad-tasting (so yes, it would overpower it). The great thing is the serving size for an adult is 2ml, so for a child would be 1ml which isn’t much at all. I mix in a shot glass with the elderberry syrup and my kids will take it that way. They don’t LOVE it (although my 3 yr old will ask for it), but they get it down!

      • Leave a Reply

        October 11, 2013

        Also, per the westonaprice.org website, they have this to say about fish oils: “…fish oils do not provide fat-soluble vitamins, can cause an overdose of unsaturated fatty acids and usually come from farmed fish.

  10. Leave a Reply

    October 1, 2013

    This is a great idea. How do you get the FCLO to mix in with the syrup? I buy Green Pastures as well but it is always thick and chunky. Is that normal?

    • Leave a Reply

      October 1, 2013

      I wonder if you are using the gel? That would be thick and chunky and not sure how you’d mix it. If you are using the liquid, I take out of fridge and let it sit on counter for a bit and then SHAKE WELL before measuring some out. Hope that helps!

      • Leave a Reply

        October 3, 2013

        I have the peppermint flavor. I don’t think it is the gel but I will check. I keep mine in the fridge so I will try letting it sit out a bit. Thanks 🙂

  11. Leave a Reply

    Sarah Z
    August 22, 2013

    I’m considering starting this regimen with my kiddos now that they are back in school. Do you have problems with any after issues, like burping the fish flavor? That is the main thing holding me back. I’ve tried and just can’t take that lasting problem.

    • Leave a Reply

      August 25, 2013

      I generally have the “burping” fish flavor problem only for a few days when re-starting, but that’s all. I also know that when I store it in the fridge I don’t have this problem. I have read that to prevent “fish burps” you should also take it with cold water…..hope that helps!!!

  12. Leave a Reply

    August 5, 2013

    I found this after googling how to get kids to take CLO. We traipsed around our yard to see if we had any elderberry bushes around but we don’t. Ah well. Anyway, I noticed that you put the CLO in the syrup but do you also give them butter oil? I’ve never taken them separately so I didn’t know how it tastes and how kids would take it. I have never even attempted to give ours any CLO yet but I think I’ll have an easier time if I can get both oils in them at the same time. Can you give me an idea of how the flavor mixes with the elderberry syrup? Can you still taste the orange or does the syrup really cover up the flavor so I could possibly go with an unflavored? Also, do you all take elderberry syrup every day? I didn’t know if too much would cause any kind of toxicity issue.


    • Leave a Reply

      August 5, 2013

      We haven’t done butter oil, but we use grassfed butter on a normal basis so I’ve just gone with that. I think the elderberry syrup covers up the orange flavor so I’m guessing unflavored would be fine if they are going to take it with the elderberry syrup. We generally don’t take elderberry syrup during the summer unless we start to get sick (which doesn’t really happen during the summer for us)…. I am pretty sure taking it every day would NOT cause a toxicity issue (it’s a fruit, not medicine). Same with cod liver oil, although my kids are outside in the sun so much during the summer that we don’t take it during the summer either. Hope that helps! As always, check with a naturally-based practitioner if you have any questions!

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