TPM Tidbit: Is Fermented Cod Liver Oil Really That Magical?

August 28, 2012 in Categories: , by

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You didn’t get to hear my discussion about fermented cod liver oil with Stacy on The Paleo View podcast because we cut the discussion for the sake of time (we are trying very hard to reign in our podcasts and keep them to about an hour).  I will summarize for you. 

Stacy:  “Femented cod liver oil is magical.” 
Sarah:  “Ew, gross!”
Stacy:  “You really should try it!” 
Sarah:  “Ew, gross!”
Stacy:  “You really should try it!”
Sarah  “Ew, gross!”
Stacy:  “You really should try it!”
Sarah:  “Sigh.  I know.”

Fermented cod liver oil is strongly touted by some pretty smart people, like Chris Kresser, Diane Sanfilippo (in her awesome book Practical Paleo), and the Weston A Price Foundation.  Green Pastures brand is reputed to be the best (Diane only recommends Green Pastures brand). Given that I am still recovering from a recent lichen planus flare, what did I have to lose?

I was unable to find fermented cod liver oil in stores near me.  In fact, they looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if they had it at my local Whole Foods, even though I tried to explain that fermentation was less likely to damage the fragile omega-3 fats while also retaining all the fat soluble vitamins compared to other fish oil processing methods.  So, I ordered it online from amazon.  I thought I was ordering the straight orange-flavoredGreen Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil(I wanted to stay away from the stevia which is added to the Artic Mint and Cinnamon Tingle flavors), but I ended up with orange-flavored capsules (the capsules are made from plant cellulose and don’t contain magnesium stearate, which I am trying to avoid right now). 

In just four doses, I have noticed an improvement in my skin (glowing!) and my lichen planus lesions have shown noticeable improvement too (yay!).  The capsules are completely painless to take (although more expensive than the straight oil, which I will probably buy next time) and I haven’t had any fish oil burps (this is important!).  I intend to keep taking this supplement for a while, but already I can see why it has such a good reputation. 


I just wanted to mention that CLO should be taken with a high fat meal to optimize absorption of the fat soluble vitamins :)

I need to start taking this, too! But I really dont think I can stomach the straight up oil. Price excluded ( I will gladly pay more for caps), is there any other major benefit to taking it in pure liquid form?

Try this: half a glass of warm (not hot) water and add the amount of oil you need. Now drink it in one go.
Somehow the warm water makes the oil much easier to swallow and deal with in general. No burps or fish-oil smells afterwards.

Hmmm. I wonder if I am taking too much? I got 2 bottles of the emulsified ginger when they were on sale for $15 a pop. I started at 1/2 tsp which is about 2g and have worked myself up to a full tsp a day which is 4g. If I am reading the labels right then your two capsules equal 1g and I am currently taking 4x that. It’s hard to know how much to take since they don’t/can’t put the vitamin values on there. Not to mention the differences between emulsified vs capsules vs BO blend. The blog says between 1/2 tsp and 1.5 tsp. I think I will scale back to 1/2 tsp and see if my skin still feels soft. It’s been less than a month and I am already more than half way through my first bottle. Would love to stretch this out and save $ but still get the benefits. I definitely notice the difference in my skin since I started taking it.

Sold! I’ve been listening to The Balanced Bites podcast and wondering why Diane and Liz are so obsessed with the stuff. Add your vote and it sounds like something to try.

(Love your podcast too! You and Stacy have comforting voices.)

I know this is an old post, but I was wondering why you would be leery to try the cod liver/butter oil blend with autoimmune issues. I have autoimmune problems and I just ordered the cod liver/butter oil blend. Now I am nervous. Should I avoid taking it?

Does the butter oil aggravate autoimmune issues? I have been searching on the internet, but I can’t find anything linking the two together. I am a little worried about taking it now. I guess I could try it out and see how I react.

I got some of the emulsified ginger when it was on sale too. And some capsules as back up just in case I couldn’t stand it. Each time I’ve taken the liquid the experience has improved. I think it looks disgusting, so I spend a lot of time stirring it before I get brave enough for that spoonful. But this morning I decided I’ve crossed a huge barrier. While I can’t honestly say I like it, it’s not bad. I don’t see any magic benefits, so I’m counting on inner healing instead

For the emulsified ones (ginger and a few others), they’ve added many ingredients to make it more appetizing. So you DO need to take more in order to get the same amount of desired nutrients (A, D and EFAs). So while it is much cheaper, you need to take much more (almost twice as much). And not the money savings it can appear to be at first glance. Now, if it’s the ONLY one you or your kids will take, take it! But do take note of the added ingredients.

For our family, Cinnamon Tingle is the ONLY way to go! I know it has the stevia in it, but we couldn’t handle the orange at all.

Fermented cod liver oil is more about the fat soluble vitamins than it is about the omega-3 fats.

I think the consensus is that taking fish oil for the omega-3 fats is not very helpful (they tend to oxidize in storage and depending on how they were processed/stored, if they are highly oxidized by the time you consume them, they can actually cause inflammation instead of resolve it) and that it’s better to eat whole food sources of omega-3 fats like oily cold water fish. has a great article about it.

Hallo, wo haben Sie die Skate liver oil gekauft? Im apotheke? War es teuer? Ich kann es nicht finden, und die Green Pastures ist sehr teuer uber Amazon… Danke! (thought I might practice my german 😛 )

Translation: Where did you buy the fermented skate liver oil? At the pharmacy? Was it expensive? I cannot find it, and Green Pastures is very expensive when ordering over Amazon… Thanks!

Hello Laura,

I only found the ones on Amazon. As you said it is really expensive so I thought about importing it. I checked the the toll restrictions of Germany but it is forbidden to import food supplements because they are beeing treated like medicine. I could import it over a pharmacy, but I suggest that the import fees + value added tax would boost the selling price higher than it is on Amazon. :-(
I tried ordinary Omega 3 and have been feeling much better in combination with the Paleo AI Protocol (Fibromyalgia and some allergies) – so I am really thinking about accepting the high price on Amazon just to try it and make me feel better.


Nadine- Thanks for posting this. I too live in Germany and struggling to find may things I need for my Paleo lifestyle. I know I can’t import dugs or supplements anymore via my APO box and was trying to decide which option was the best via Thanks!

I actually found my Green Pasture products through a company called: Peaceful Planet in RI. I received my products within (3) days and they were the best cost that I could find….

Hi Laura,
you can order the FCLO through . The company is from the netherlands, but they can ship from a German adress (but email them first). They also sell skate liver oil capsules and FSLO in a mix of coconut oil, FCLO + Butter oil (cinnamon and plain)

I am trying to figure out if it’s really magical enough to justify the price! We are a family of 5. Just this one supplement would eat up about 3/4 of our food budget! I have been searching for a more affordable option, but haven’t found anything thus far. I think I’ll have to take my chances with whole foods.

So your saying its possible to go off meds if u eat a certain diet? What causes someone to get a leaky gut in the first place when it seems as though most other people don’t? What about raw milk a lot of people say it helps? What exactly is the problem with rice corn buckwheat or beans? And a lot of other advice about this tells you to eat eggs tomatoes bell peppers

Yes, I am saying that many people can go off meds completely by fixing their diets and lifestyles. The answers to your questions are quite involved (and all will be addressed in my book). Most of the answers can be found in the Eating Paleo menu and the Autoimmunity menu.

Research about GMOs.
Pesticides use to be put on the plants, then we were able to wash it off ingesting some pesticides. NOW ?
On a C-Span debate, the anti-GMO’s debater told how the pesticide is put into the DNA of the plant so when insects eat the veg., the pesticide splits open the insect’s stomach to kill them. That is what it is doing to us. IT CANNOT BE WASHED OFF !!
People are getting Leaky Gut, Crohns, serious stomach problems, etc…
I have and my health improved dramaticly.

Hey, just found your site and am bookmarking! Nice post. I have not read the entire thread of replies, though i did read the original post. I’m trying to weigh the pros/cons of regular CLO vs. FCLO. I’ve been taking regular for months and months, but am now starting to hear the rumblings of FCLO being much better, although WAPF recommends taking regular CLO with raw butter or a high fat meal. Do you have any info/references regarding the advantages either way? Fortunately, for us, we can get raw milk with plenty of cream and can make our own butter. Which i realize is not available for many and FCLO would be the obvious choice. Anyway, don’t mean to ramble…just interesting. Lemme know what you think!

I think a quality CLO is also a very good choice, especially if FCLO is hard to find. FCLO is a little more concentrated and the idea behind the fermentation is that it protects the vitamins and fats from damage (it is also heavily supported by WAPF). There’s also likely a probiotic effect. Every batch of FCLO is probably a little different. Chris Masterjohn (who writes extensively for WAPF) recently said that he thinks there might be as yet undiscovered nutrients in FCLO because when you ferment something, there are so many new nutrients that can be formed. I think if you’re getting raw grass-fed butter and cream, there’s no need to get the FCLO butter oil blend.

The information that would be very useful about FCLO, is the gentle purification process. How do they remove the unwanted solids, how do they separate the final product? Is the process done under nitrogen or carbon dioxide gas to minimize any oxidation? Processing temperatures? The lack of this information implies the manufacturer is hiding something. My current fish oil is produced using short path distillation, using vacuum and low temperatures. This process is used when thermally labile or reactive compounds must be separated, and allows separation/purification of many compounds that cannot be separated without decomposition using conventional techniques.
Additional information about the conditions under which the FCLO is manufactured, would really help to establish the credibility of the claims being made.

It would also be extremely useful to do an HPLC-MS analysis of the FCLO to separate and identify the myriad of molecules thought to be present and providing the efficacy.

I recently purchased Green Pastures FCLO and butter oils combo, but then decided I needed to follow the AI protocol. Since the bottle said contains:milk (the butter oil) I stopped taking it. Do you think the benefit of this product would outweigh the trace amount of “milk”?? Thanks!

Okay then… Maybe this is a dumb question, but if you’re eating as much organ meat as I think you are, (and maybe I’m confusing you with Stacy, you have similar voices, sorry) then why are you taking FCLO?

I am Celiac/Hashi’s and have been taking the FCLO since September 2013. With all my medical bills it is something I will have to remove from my diet. Can I get the same benefit from liver and how much should I eat to compensate for the missing FCLO? Also once I cut out the FCLO where can I get my Vitamin D from? I live in the Boston area and the sun isn’t coming back strong until around May. Does liver contain Vitamin D? I am trying to eat fish daily (sardines/salmon) which I know contains D but how much should I be eating so I don’t have to supplement?

I was told by my eye Dr to start taking fish oil for my chronic dry eyes that are starting to become infected every few months (she wants to put me on Restasis) What FCLO do you recommend & how much per day? Thank you so much!

I was researching for healthier bones and teeth watching the older generation getting hip fractures and teeth breaking so I was researching and came across FCLS/Butter Oil Capsules.
People who took this combination were saying how it amazingly healed their gums and teeth. I too am trying to find and take the oils to head off any future problems.

Maybe someone has said this (SO many comments!!). But just a hint: I use a capsule filling machine (eBay $30) and fill capsules (Amazon, like $6) with the liquid fclo from green pastures. Never. Taste. A. Thing.
I save a TON of money.

What size capsules do you use? How many capsules are you getting out of the Green Pasture liquid vs capsules?

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