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October 02, 2009


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BJ Green

Thanks for the article. I had never heard of this brand of cod liver oil but from your post and other readers comments it seems like it is really good.

JJ Smith

Cod liver oil...interesting...don't think it's the most healthy thing to take in. There's no doubt that fish oil is good for you though. You can eat tons of fish oil capsules and it won't harm you. They are good for sources of omega-3 and the best place to find them is in fish, surprise, surprise. Tuna, salmon, mackerel, and halibut are just some examples of fish you should consume. Tilipia is good. Catfish is good. But neither one contains omega-3s. It's usually found in fish that live in colder regions. Think Alaska.

Calm PRT

Thomas Bond

As a natural health writer and researcher for many years, I've been amazed by a constant stream of readers to my website, who email me to ask why I don't recommend things like Flaxseed Oil or Cod Liver Oil for omega-3.

There seems to be an endless supply of doctors and dietitians who have not read the science and keep recommending these products to their patients and readers. These "authorities" mention supposed mercury content of fish oil(it has been removed from almost every brand on the market in the U.S.), or merely say that plant-based omega-3 fats are "more healthy" than fish oils from polluted oceans, etc. The facts are in fact to the contrary.

Plant based omega-3's are only 18 carbons long and must be lengthened to either 20 or 22 carbons to make EPA or DHA to be used by the body to reduce inflammation. Even healthy bodies cannot perform this conversion efficiently. Only 2% or slightly more of the ALA omega-3 from flax or walnut and similar plant sources can be converted into EPA long-chain omega-3. And, research consistently shows that the other long-chain omega-3 called DHA is simply not made at all in many people from the ALA from Flax or other plants. Less than .05% of flaxseed oil omega-3 fats will be converted into DHA Docosahexenoic Acid in the human body.

By contrast, fully 12% of the fats in fish oil are already DHA, and 18% of the fats in fish oil are already EPA Eicosapentaenoic Acid -- right there in the capsule, before they enter the body.

The other marine sources of long-chain preformed omega-3 fats are blue-green algae, muscles, oysters, and krill oil. The most concentrated EPA and DHA sources include anchovy, sardines, herring, mackerel and some of the other oily types of wild fish. Farm raised fish are poor sources.

The evidence for this poor conversion of plant based omega-3 fat is conclusive. It amazes me how many so-called experts don't do their homework.

And, of course Cod Liver Oil should never be confused with fish oil. They are not even close to the same thing. Cod liver oil is taken for vitamin-D and vitamin-A, not for omega-3.

But thanks so much for your interesting article on Cod liver oil. Wonderful details. I too can remember my father taking this foul tasting stuff back in the 1950s... yech!

Ken Charles

I agree with Luis comment above. There is increasing concern about the possible toxicity of fish oils, due to the increasing pollution of the seas. A better alternative is cold pressed flaxseed oil, which has the highest concentation of omega 3 oils. I put up with the disgusting taste because it is a great benefit to my arthritis.


As a kid I hated the pungent smell of cod liver oil. Today, sixteen renowned experts, including professors Walter Willett and Ed Giovannucci of Harvard, Dr. John Hathcock of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, have issued an unprecedented warning consumption of cod liver oil and Vitamin A result of toxicity. Besides the warning on the consumption of cod liver oil, the experts recommended above to healthy children of 1000 IU / day vitamin D for every 25 pounds of body weight. In some cases more than ten times the current recommendation for children by government and professional organizations.

John Evans

We are indeed seeing a resurgence in cod liver oil and other fish oils. The “Man With a Fish on His Back” would not have heard of omega 3 fatty acids, but perhaps he knew something about the benefits of cod liver oil for arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Apparently cod liver oil was consumed by the Vikings twelve centuries ago and was also used as a lubricant when transporting their long boats across the land using logs.

We now know that the two omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, of which cod liver oil is such a rich source, perform a wide range of important physiological functions which, along with other effects, moderate inflammation and promote cognitive ability.

It seems ironic that interest in the health benefits of fish oils is growing at a time when awareness of environmental problems associated with fish farming, sustainability and contamination is also increasing.


I was so glad when they got these in liquid caps instead of having to swallow it from a spoon. My parents made me take it once a week, worst day of the week for sure..


I can taste it as I write this comment ugh how gross. I think those bottles should be collectibles now. I'm gonna call my grandma and see if she has any hiding somewhere.

Linda A. Linday, M.D.

Thank you for the excellent article. We have published more recent research using a modern lemon-flavored cod liver oil (given with a multivitamin-mineral) to decrease upper respiratory tract infections in young children (see www.drlinday.com).


I remember my great grandma giving me cod liver oil. It was one of the worst tasting memories that I have. It is amazing that this product is still going after over 100 years. This is a testament to their ability to change their marketing with the times.


Yes, I remember that cod liver oil was the real deal. Still hear people talk about it all the time. This is the first time I have seen that advertisement.

I have never tried "straight" cod liver oil, but I'll bet it wasn't a favorite among kids. Hard to believe that the original formula can still be found. Interesting read. Thank You.

Stroller Roller

I can remember tons of cartoons and old movies where I would hear about Cod liver oil being given to children. Used to gross me out by the reactions I would see in the faces of the characters on those old shows.

Another one that I used to hear a lot about was Castor Oil, but I don't know if that was a vitamin type thing (like the cod liver oil) or more of a remedy for some kind of ailments. I could google it, but it just came to mind while I was reading this post.

There's no doubt them fish oils are good for you though, if I skip on mine for a few days I can definitely feel the difference. Of course taking the pills, even though they are a bit stinky, has to be easier than choking down a big spoonful like they did back in the day.


This article really brings me back to my childhood! We had a spoon a day of the original white emulsion and then graduated to the orange flavoured version...somehow I dont think the cod liver oil capsules are quite the same.


This is a great little article. I deal quite a bit in cod liver oil and sell it all over the world. Kids in Iceland still drink the stuff (well their parents make them)!!


Interesting. I know i had cod liver oil when i was younger. My grandma would force it down me!

ShaRon Doyle

I just want to thank you for this article. Indeed I remember Scott's Cod Liver Oil as a child (age 43). Now that I have children of my own, I have been on a witch hunt to found this product. I could only remember the man with the fish on his back. When I googled cod liver oil bottles achive, it was on you site. I printed out your article and headed to the pharmacy. The young man was not familar with this particular product, but oooh his father knew exactly what I wanted. By the way he kept your article.....TRULY THANKS!!!

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