Fermented Cod Liver Oil: why it is awesome and how you can win some

September 17, 2012

I am really pleased to report that I have made good on several of my goals for 2012, one of which was to help our family get into the habit of (drum roll please) . . .consuming fermented cod liver oil.

Yes I know, it sounds disgusting and no I did not divulge my evil plan to my family when we discussed our goals on New Year’s Eve.

Maybe you already know all about Fermented Cod Liver Oil (if so feel free to either skip this post or identify yourself in the comments so that if we have questions we can glean from your wisdom).  Perhaps you are like me and have been running smack into blog posts all over the place which talk about the amazing goodness of this stinky fish oil.  Perhaps you have decided to simply avoid this one little super healthy supplement (as I had).  Or perhaps you are reading this and thinking “what on God’s green Earth would cause someone in their right mind to willingly consume that?!  Well my friend, today is your day.  I’ll let you live vicariously though my family as we ordered, sampled and decided on our fermented cod liver oil (FCLO) of choice.

First I’ll touch on WHY we would choose to consume not only the oil from a fish but oil from a fish that has been fermenting.

Why in the world:

-Fermented Cod Liver oil is rich not only in Omega 3 but also is also naturally rich in fat solubile vitamin A and D.  Unless you have been living under a rock, you no doubt have been beat over the head with the fact that Americans don’t get enough Vitamin D (read more about Vitamin D here).  Just how much Vitamin A and D is present in FCLO is up for discussion.  While some sources claim that “one teaspoon of regular cod liver oil contains 5,000 IU Vitamin D” and that “only a half teaspoon of fermented cod liver oil you also get 5,000 IU.”  The Green Pasture company (which is currently the only company that makes cod liver oil using the traditional method of fermentation–more on that below) addresses this question here by essentially saying that a product that is not manufactured in a lab does not yield the same results every time.  FCLO is wonderfully healthy for you but the exact amount of Vitamin A and D cannot be determined with scientific numbers in the way that we would like.

-Because of the preservation of the FCLO oils though the slow lacto-fermentation process (without heat), naturally occurring vitamins and left undamaged. As stated by Holistic Kid, “This is evident by the deep rich color of FCLO as opposed to the pale yellow of conventional cod liver oil. This means that fermented cod liver oil contains the proper ratio of the essential fat soluble vitamins A and D – two nutrients that cannot be obtained through vegetable sources. Furthermore, because FCLO is a fermented food, the body can assimilate its nutrients with more ease and efficacy.”

How is it made?

Weston A. Price Foundation President Sally Fallon Morell spoke about the differences between regular high-vitamin cod liver oil and fermented cod liver oil by saying, “Throughout history, cod liver oil was traditionally processed via fermentation, and not processed with heat. She said that the fishermen would throw the livers into a barrel, add a little sea water, and then leave it to ferment. Today, almost all cod liver oil is processed by heating it. Except for Green Pastures new fermented cod liver oil, which is made the traditional way. (Okay, maybe they don’t actually use barrels and sea water but you get the idea.)”  Did you know that it takes 6 months to a year to make traditional fermented cod liver oil?  If you want to read more about why FERMENTED cod liver oil is better for you, here is some good additional info.

How does it taste?

To be completely honest I expected BAD things from my first FCLO encounter.  I mean seriously, we are talking about fermented fish liver, gross!  However, personally, my expectations were worse than my actual experience.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the taste but I don’t hate it either.  I had built it up to be SO bad that once I tasted it I said, “oh, that’s not so bad.”  It was the same for my husband.  In fact, I think his exact words were, “Oh, I could have that three times a day if needed.”  Now I can force myself to do something that I know is good for me but kids can often be a harder sell so I was very interested to see what they would think about this new elixir.  I was pleasantly surprised here as well.  By no means did they like it but they will tolerate it.  In the beginning I rewarded them with a few chocolate chips but over time they grew used to it and now it is simply a part of their evening routine.  In addition to the standard non flavored option, Green Pasture does offer a variety of FCLO favors including orange, cinnamon, mint and chocolate.  While they don’t negate all of the fishy flavor, we feel they can do a pretty good job at distracting you from it long enough to swallow and take a drink :) . Each person in our family has developed a personal perference.  Would you like to see the reaction of Hunter (who was 8 at the time) and Quinten (2 at the time) when they tried the non flavored fermented cod liver oil for the first time?   I caught their response on video.  In the video you will see Quinten give a little cough when he tries the non flavored version.  However, since that filming, we discovered that the chocolate cream is Quinten’s FCLO of choice.  He is the only one that prefers this flavor and the the gel consistency (there are some FCLO options that include a butter blend and are more of a gel/cream like consistency).  Quinten will literally come running when I ask if he wants some FCLO (and he would take seconds if I offered it).  My friend Kira reports the same phenomenon with her 3 year old son.

I think the bottom line here is that this is one product that you do not buy for the taste, but instead for the benefits.  However, if you are lucky, you may find that it isn’t as bad as you expect and some in your family may even like it!  Of course there is always the option to take it in capsule form (slightly more expensive but worth it in my opinion if it is the only way you will consume it).

This YouTube video about our “opposite game” also shows Ashlyn taking her FCLO.

Extra info:

How much should you take?

Holistic Kid adresses this question well in this post.

How to get kids to take it:

Holistic Kid offers advice in this area.

Green Pastures talks about it on their FAQ page.


The next step:

Are you ready to give fermented cod liver oil a try?  Green Pasture has generously agreed to give away 3 gift certificates for $44 to their website!  You have several ways to enter via the rafflecopter form below, good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


The credits: Thank you to Katie from Kitchen Stewardship for writing the blog post about FCLO that finally pushed me over the edge to try it.  Thank you to Green Pasture for being willing to do things the hard way and therefore create a better product that excels in quality and nutrition.  Thank you also for providing my family with samples of your product for the purpose of this review.

All feedback provided is honest and true.  Since receiving the samples, I have placed an order from Green Pasture to replenish my stock of FCLO.

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