Important Update on Cod Liver Oil

Important Update on Cod Liver Oil

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An independent analysis of Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil suggests that it may not live up to its claims. But is the analysis sound? Get the nitty gritty details and my recommendations.

best cod liver oil
One of the best ways to get a daily dosage of cod liver oil is in capsule form. obewon/iStock/Thinkstock

As many of you know, I’ve long been an advocate of cod liver oil. In addition to being a good source of long-chain omega-3 fats like EPA and DHA, it’s rich in vitamins A and D, which are difficult to obtain elsewhere in the diet.

For several years I’ve recommended Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO) from Green Pasture. I took this product myself, and my wife took it throughout her pregnancy and while she nursed our daughter, Sylvie. I recommended it to my patients, readers, podcast listeners, and friends and family.

About a year ago, I received an email from a new company called Rosita Real Foods regarding a new cod liver oil product (called Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil, or EVCLO) that they were bringing to market. Leading up to the launch of their product, they sent out a series of emails explaining how it is manufactured, processed, tested, and produced.

I was impressed by their transparency: they provided test results for fatty acids, vitamins, dioxins & PCBs, rancidity, and oxidation by-products on their website, along with a list of institutions that performed the testing as well as the dates of the tests.

As soon as the EVCLO product became available, I ordered some. I noticed right away that it smelled, looked, and tasted fresh. This, together with Rosita’s transparency and third-party testing, was enough to convince me to switch over to EVCLO and begin recommending it to my tribe.

Independent Analysis of Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Last weekend I received an email from Kaayla Daniel, a nutritionist who has been involved with the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) for many years. She had grown increasingly suspicious of the Green Pasture product recently, and she requested that the WAPF conduct independent analysis of it to determine whether it lived up to its claims. The WAPF voted not to conduct this testing, so Kaayla took matters into her own hands.

My take on the recent report on Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil.

The result is a 110-page report with test data from multiple independent laboratories both in the United States and abroad with expertise in testing marine oils and nutrient levels. You can read the full report for free here. But in short, these were the conclusions from her report:

  • One of the three batches of FCLO that were tested was found to be rancid, based on free fatty acid values.
  • Levels of vitamins D, A, and K are lower than Green Pasture claims on its website.
  • DNA testing of the livers purportedly used to make FCLO suggests that it is not made from cod, but from Alaskan pollock. Oils from Alaskan pollock liver have a different nutritional and fatty acid profile than those from cod livers (which explains the next finding).
  • While all other cod liver oil products contain more DHA than EPA, FCLO contains more EPA than DHA. This EPA-to-DHA ratio is consistent with what you would find in Alaskan pollock liver oil.

Kaayla’s report certainly raises a number of issues that deserve attention. However, I do have some concerns about the data she presents. They arose out of research I did over the weekend, as well as discussions with colleagues in the fields of biochemistry, nutritional science, and lipid science.

Are the Fat-Soluble Vitamin Tests Results Reliable?

Testing for fat-soluble vitamin levels is incredibly complex and not yet standardized. I am concerned that the approach to quantifying them in Kaayla’s report was oversimplified. This is based on communications I’ve had with Dr. Chris Masterjohn, a nutritional scientist and an expert in fat-soluble vitamins.

Chris has noted that there are likely at least half a dozen (if not more) vitamin D compounds in cod liver oil, and it may be that the preponderance of biological activity comes from compounds other than vitamin D3 or D2. (This is the case with cow’s milk, where most of the vitamin D activity comes from 25(OH)D and very little comes from vitamin D.)

In fact, one vitamin D expert has remarked that a scientist could spend an entire career simply characterizing the factors responsible for the vitamin D activity in cod liver oil. Clearly there’s a lot more to this than comes across in Kaayla’s report.

This may explain why Dave Wetzel, the owner of Green Pasture, has been attempting to quantify the fat-soluble vitamin content of FCLO for many years but has never been entirely successful. It seems that there are many different vitamin-D-like or vitamin-K-like compounds in FCLO (and other cod liver oils) that cannot be easily measured with current analytical methods. Measuring the biological activity of vitamin D compounds by feeding the substance in question to rats may be a better method of determining vitamin D content than quantifying the levels of D2 and D3. (Green Pasture did this kind of testing in 2009, and the results indicated that FCLO contained roughly 400 IU of vitamin D per tsp, which is in line with what you would expect for cod liver oil.)

Is FCLO Really Rancid?

If FCLO were truly rancid, we would expect to see very low levels of EPA and DHA in the oil. Once fatty acids (like EPA and DHA) undergo peroxidation, they cannot be regenerated from their peroxides. However, on page 102 of Kaayla’s report, the lab results show that FCLO has approximately 315 mg/tsp of DHA and 685 mg/tsp of EPA, for a total EPA/DHA content of 1,000 mg. According to Rosita’s website, EVCLO has approximately 1,200 mg of EPA/DHA combined. So, while the batch of FCLO tested in Kaayla’s report contained less EPA/DHA than EVCLO, it still contained a substantial amount—which would not be expected if the oil were rancid as claimed.

The claim that FCLO is rancid was based on high levels of free fatty acids found in the oil. Kaayla suggests that this is an accurate way to determine rancidity in marine oils. However, according to most lipid scientists, hydrolysis of triglycerides and other esterified lipids into free fatty acids is completely unrelated to oxidation and is therefore not an accurate measure of rancidity.

Instead, TOTOX, anisidine, MDA, and TBA/TBARS are better indicators of whether an oil is rancid. In Kaayla’s report, FCLO received good scores from all of the labs on TOTOX, and all but one lab (which was not able to obtain a result at all) on anisidine. Two of the labs reported normal TBA values. One lab reported a TBARS value that was high, and another reported an MDA value that was 10 times higher in FCLO than in other cod liver oils.

These results are somewhat mixed. The majority suggest that FCLO is not rancid, while two of the test results suggest that it is. I think more investigation is needed on this before any firm conclusions are drawn.

Variability in Test Results from Lab to Lab

There was significant variability in test results from lab to lab and test to test. The samples Kaayla sent in for testing had manufacture dates ranging from 2012 to 2014. It’s conceivable that Green Pasture changed its production methods during that period of time, which could explain the variation in the results.

Another possibility—and one that is likely—is that the variability is at least in part explained by different methodologies and techniques used by different labs. Unfortunately, this is difficult to verify and investigate further because Kaayla was not able to name the labs in her report (due to legal agreements).

Though this seems to be common practice in this field, I feel that the omission of the names of the labs that performed the analysis weakens the reliability of the findings. Given the known complexities involved in this kind of testing, as well as the variability between labs, it’s unfortunate that we can’t ascertain which lab did which tests. This isn’t a criticism of Kaayla, because I imagine it was beyond her control, but I do see it as a downside.

Summary and Recommendations

Kaayla’s report does raise some concerns, but clearly there is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye. Rather than viewing her report as the final word, I hope that it’s the spark for an informed and forthright investigation into the issues that she has raised.

Green Pasture has issued a preliminary response here. Interestingly, it makes some of the same points I have made in this article (that biological activity may be a better measure of vitamin D content than quantifying D2 or D3 levels, and that free fatty acids are not an accurate measure of rancidity in marine oils). They are also working on a more detailed response, which I look forward to reading.

One of the lingering issues that Kaayla raised in her report is the finding that the livers used to make FCLO were not from cod, but from Alaskan pollock. I certainly hope Green Pasture addresses this in their upcoming response.

Frankly, I feel that I don’t have the information I need to make a clear decision about whether to continue recommending FCLO. I am in touch with several people with expertise in marine oils, lipid science, and nutritional biochemistry in an attempt to better understand the implications of Kaayla’s report. I will report back to you as I learn more.

In the meantime, I do feel confident in recommending EVCLO from Rosita Real Foods. As mentioned above, they are transparent about their manufacturing process, they post independent lab results (including the names of the labs that performed the tests) on their website, and their product smells, tastes, and looks fresh. They also have an extensive FAQ with answers to many questions about their product and process.

How Concerned Should You Be If You’ve Been Taking Green Pasture FCLO?

Kaayla’s report identifies some issues that deserve further attention, including lower-than-reported levels of vitamins A, D, and K, possible rancidity, and a different ratio of EPA to DHA than would typically be found in cod liver oil.

However, it’s worth pointing out that I have numerous patients whose health noticeably improved after taking FCLO. I’ve heard similar reports from hundreds of readers and podcast listeners, as well as from women who went through my Healthy Baby Code program. In fact, my wife would count herself among this group, and if you search around on the internet, you’ll find testimonials from many people with similar stories.

So, while I do think this report warrants more investigation, I don’t think it is cause for panic. I will continue to investigate this issue and update you when new information becomes available.

Dr. Chris Masterjohn, a nutritional scientist with expertise in fat-soluble vitamins, published his preliminary thoughts on Kaayla’s report. It’s worth reading.

Now I’d like to hear from you. What has your experience been with FCLO? Have you tried EVCLO? Did you notice a difference in how you felt after switching? Let us know in the comments section.

476 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. All I have to say is that my husband and I took this product for the first time this AM.
    Result: Incredible burning of the throat for an hour. Nausea, and a feeling of general illness. Anyone else have such reactions?

      • Jenny,
        My husband and I took our first dose yesterday morning.. Same issue.. Intense, almost intolerable burning in the throat for both of us. Nausea as well. My husband`s throat issue cleared up in about an hour. I was well into the night before all residual effects were resolved. I am quit concerned and am not sure what to do about this reaction.

    • I read somewhere that they said it’s because it’s fermented and most fermented foods leave a little of that feeling in the throat. We never take it alone. That’s the worst part to me, the burning throat.

  2. Well, I have been involved in the fish oil business for the last 20 years, and especially the manufacturing of Cod Liver Oil (CLO). Two facts are indisputable. One. All CLO must be purified through molecular distillation or they will not pass Prop 65 for PCBs. Two. All CLO have higher DHA than EPA level, typically 14% DHA and 9% EPA. Any oil where EPA is higher than DHA is typically sourced from Sardines or Anchovies or Pollock.

  3. Fermentation (which is awesome) ..

    This could be throwing people off as well – just
    about everything fermented smells bad etc. ..

    People may think they’ve got a rancid product,
    but just be smelling the fermentation (many
    fermented products are fantastic).

    • My sister and I have been taking FCLO for over 2 years now and just last week received new bottles. We actually enjoy the taste oddly enough as does my 3 and 4 yr old. This last batch was definitely rancid tasted more like mold than fermented as we are very into fermenting. Yes it is an acquired taste and lifestyle. After our taste buds were thrown for a loop we will be trying something new for a while. Hopefully Green Pastures will get it together before we return as customers or should I say if we return…

  4. For whatever this is worth, my stomach is extremely sensitive to rancid oils. Consuming a rancid oil or oil product can put me in the bed with terrible stomach pain. I take Green Pasture FCLO almost daily and have NEVER suffered in the slightest. With my stomach as a barometer, I still am confident that the FCLO is safe, and as a witness to my family’s unusual good health, I believe it is doing us good.

  5. Has there been any update to the original post? Has Green Pastures posted a response yet on the point about the authenticity of their cod livers?

  6. As a non-liker of fatty fish (yep, even Salmon) this is such a tough issue…for every article on why supplementing is good and what kind to do, there’s a counterpoint article.
    Green Pastures has recently (9/23/15) responded and will be further clarifying their product (cliff notes: pollock and cod are in the same family and their new labels will include the species name that is in each bottle). I appreciate this new transparancy.
    http://www.greenpasture.org/fermented-cod-liver-oil-butter-oil-vitamin-d-vitamin-a/fermented-cod-liver-oil-labels/

  7. We found Green Pastures back in 2007.

    I started my son on it when he was 4/5 for dental reasons. We went to the dentist and he was clear of any cavities and looking good. I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to prevent him from getting any caries if I could. We try to eat outside the market as much as possible and shop FM when we can, ect…

    Between 2011 and 2012 we had to buckle down and save some money towards a big purchase. I cut out the fish oil for the whole year. By the end of the year he had 4 small cavities.

    The cost of the dentist was more than it would have been for the fish oil. As well, now he has a fear of needles as one of the top cavities required a roof needle and he screamed to high heaven and jerked with the needle in his mouth.

    If he needs any more repairs at this point we will have to have him put under and gas costs much more than the local + repairs.

    After all the repairs were done I immediately put him back on his fish oil. It is 2015 now, and my son turns 12 in two days and he is still clear- finger crossed.

    He takes it every day, although I must remind him, I take the butter oil daily as well. The investment in oneself is more valuable than we realize when we are making it.

    And while there are valuable questions regarding this research, for our family it has prevented years of undesirable side effects of the Standard American Diet from caving my sons mouth. Because while we do alot of organics we cant cut out all out all GMO all together.

    While the majority of my adults friends children have had many dental trips, if not complete mouth rot due to malnutrition my son has had just one trip to the dental chair. I have seen some horrors of the mouth. Just unreal.

    Years ago(2008 or so) I told one of my friends she might want to try the GP fish oil for her kids, she told me it was too expensive. Her children are on state medicaid and they have constant dental issues, but since she doesn’t have to actually pay for it, she sees medicaid as the cheaper cost.

    We also have our son on garden of life kids vitamins, and eat more than 60% organic. He has been on goat milk his entire life. Every now and again we will pick up some organic whole cow milk. The above with the fish oil makes a complete nutritional regimen for his health.

    So things aren’t perfect, for us I believe Green Pastures has made a difference.

  8. It’s my personal opinion that ANY “data” ripping another person, service, or product MUST be taken with a grain of dalt in our current online environment that includes “reputation management.”

    Reputation management may be used to pump up one product while tearing up the reputation of another based on deceit, sly wording, and outright lying.

    ANYONE can use a search engine and research this new, dishonest industry called reputation management.

    Do your own research, learn all of the facts, keep your OWN counsel (don’t accept brainwashing put forth by a “title”) and make your own decisions.

    Face it, our modern times are full of people trying to “corner the market”, “get rich quick” and “retire at a young age” who look with sour grapes at anyone else in their field. They see it as “taking my money” when they haven’t earned the trust and respect to get that income.

    I would stay far and away from any product recommended by an vile and dishonest ripping of someone else apart. How can they be trusted if they cannot rest alone on the integrity of their product?

    • All of which is completely irrelevant to this report and article and blog post since Kaayla did not write that info for the purpose of recommending any products.

    • I agree with you. I would really question the motives of the company that is spear heading this negative campaign against Green Pastures and do they stand to gain when customers turn from GP to their alternative product? The whole thing has always “smelled” to me since the beginning of this smear and discredit Green Pastures campaign. I have used the Green Pastures Blue Ice royal butter/FCLO product for quite a few years with absolutely no untoward side effects and IMO if something isn’t broke, it doesn’t need fixing.

  9. Science works. Pseudoscience, parascience, the paranormal, superstition, religion, as well as holy books don’t work because they brainwash our minds into believing in myths and committing atrocities to boot…as ISIL (aka ISIS), Boko Haram, al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and the like, have been doing for years.

    Let’s follow science. This squabble concerning FCLO versus EVCLO is easily solved by using logic—not common sense, alas, an expression even used by some scientists; common sense kills and has no science behind it. Logic tells us to take either one first and then the other because (1) the prices are about the same, (2) our body will tell us which one it likes better, and (3) we’ll be supporting two small businesses that want us to be healthy and thus avoid taking drugs or being hospitalized. Let’s not get blinded by moola to not see the big picture here.

    What’s wrong with fermented foods? Fermented fish has been eaten for thousands of years—bagoong (Philippines), fesikh (Egypt), garum (Ancient Rome), hákarl (Iceland), hongeohoe (Korea), igunaq (Inuit peoples), kusaya (Japan), lakerda (Greece), ngari (Manipur, India), pla ra (Thailand), rakfisk (Norway), surströmming (Sweden), tepa (Yu’pik people, Alaska), prahok (Cambodia), pekasam (Malaysia)….

    How many people have died after eating any of those 15 fermented foods? Very few in many millennia. How many have died after taking FCLO or EVCLO? None. Hospitalized? A few, perhaps none. ?

    “Time is a great teacher but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.” —Hector Berlioz

    • you forgot to take consideration of all the toxic industrial waste pollutants that have entered food chain since the start of the industrial revolution. Triillions of tons of pollutants annually for over a century. So, comparing historical reference to oldworld cultures that consumed raw fish to todays fish, is not apples to apples. I prefer a product that is tested by independent labs as well has just advertising claims, since these types of supplements are not regulated by any government agencies. Its not about ripping anyones reputation, its about backing up a products claims with real independent scientific testing and published reports. That my friend is “COMMON SENSE”

  10. I had to stop taking Green Pastures FCLO because I realized that it was affecting my ability to think clearly. I believe brain fog is the term. After I stopped taking it (the unflavored capsules) this cleared up. I now use EVCLO from Rosita Real Foods and I much prefer it to the FCLO. I haven’t had my vitamin D level checked since I made the switch so I can’t comment on that yet. But the Rosita product is much easier to take with no side efffects.

  11. So here is the thing: After reading every available aspect of this controversy:Kaylas report, Chris Masterjohn (who is a leading P.H.d. expert on fats???!!!), Chris Kressers commentary, Sally’s rebuttal, Wetzels so called expert Scientists in his defense etc. et. al.

    My question is after all this there is no conclusive evidence of whether or not this product is Rancid.

    How is this possible?

    Is there no truly definitive test to tell if a oil-like substance is “Rancid” whatever that truly means?

    This is almost beginning to have an air of absurdity and comedy to it.

    “It is rancid”

    “No it is not, just look at what these lab values state”

    “Well those lab values are wrong”

    “Which lab did you use”

    “I can’t tell you”

  12. Interesting to read your thoughts on this. Personally, I find her whole report quite unscientific. She has gone out with the sole purpose of trying to prove fermented cod liver oil is rancid. Instantly, this loses all credibility, as she will obviously interpret her results in a bias way. The, coupled with the many errors in her report mean it has shown very little. I’ve had a good look at her report and put my findings down here (http://www.thehealthcloud.co.uk/green-pastures-rancid-report-analysis/)

    Would be interested to know your thoughts on it.

  13. I am pretty shocked at the lack of concern about health when such a grave concern about a widely consumed product is raised. This is a rancid product, there is no other conclusion.

  14. I read that WAP has financial ties to Green Pastures and I have to admit – if this is true – it concerns me – seems like a conflict of interest situation / follow the $$$. I really trust WAP info and recommendations, but this debate and situation has me wondering. I would love your opinion on this. Thanks!

    • Financial ties are being mentioned as the reason for the stance taken on many blogs and various articles. Weston A. Price disclosed the annual amount received from Green Pasture Products, which was 1.1%. I don’t believe an amount of that quantity can possibly be labeled as a “financial incentive” for WAPF to endorse this product. The Foundation endorses the product because the product was one of the first of its kind to be raw and unadulterated, and was an answer to many consumer concerns about all other fish oil products being highly processed, heat treated, and containing synethic nutrients. David Wetzel spent a considerable amount of time and expense prior to starting his business to learn what the commercial fish and cod liver oil companies were doing, so he could produce a product that delivers in nutrient-density as well as safe and non-toxic. That’s why WAPF endorses this product.

      This page appears to be down ATM, but here is the link to WAPF’s discussion on this topic:

      http://www.westonaprice.org/action-alerts/fermented-cod-liver-oil-concerns/

  15. It would be wonderful if you were able to get the oil added to the Thrive Market website along with other supplement brands you recommend like magnesium, etc. thanks!

  16. Hello, for further information regarding your post on your blog. I do not believe in the company Green Pasture. It does not seem transparent. It lacks many independent lab tests. In addition, the mislabelling clearly shows the lack of transparency and professionalism of this company. In discussing this ‘bomb’ with some members of my family. I asked what my grandfather who was a cod fisherman of atlantiqu, and others were with the liver. It seems that was storing the livers of cod in wooden barrels. The oil was then used for health (ingested) or spread to the fields as fertilizer or used to launch boats in the spring.

    It is a pity that all research on this subject is difficult.

    Good day

    • Silly Me, I thought that this is what Dave Wetzel did. Soak the COD livers in a wooden barrel on his farm in Nebraska. Add is some cinnamon oil and some stevia and then bottle that stuff.

        • I read that same article and it sounds to me that the other company doesn’t actually manufacture the FCLO, but are the bottlers/enscapulators and final quality check.

          This whole thing has political in-fighting written all over it. Currently, my take is that Daniels has some personal issue with Sally Fallon (I don’t find Daniel’s report credible much at all). Perhaps there is some merit in Daniel’s attack on Fallon, who knows, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to hash this out in public.

          Daniel’s most recent rebuttal for her stance comes across as a very different tone from her report. Her report comes across as sensationalistic, whereas her recent rebuttal seems to me as more “real”, as in, we are seeing more of the real Dr. Daniels:

          http://drkaayladaniel.com/transparency-blackouts-doses-and-grand-tours-my-response-to-the-healthy-home-economist/

          I do have a major bone to pick with Mr. Wetzel… for offering an all-expense paid trip to Daniels for her to come check out his operation. Just like something Big Pharma would do, and he should be conducting business as unlike as Big Pharma as possible. This is clear, as Mr. Wetzel confirms this on his website. Her allegation that Wetzel changed his tune when she said she would come on her own dime is unclear to me at this point. Either she is making this up, or Wetzel neatly left that detail out of his response to her expose, as he said he was “met with silence”:

          http://www.greenpasture.org/fermented-cod-liver-oil-butter-oil-vitamin-d-vitamin-a/response-to-questions-on-fermented-cod-liver-oil/

          • Well, GP is not in the same league as Big Pharma, by a long stretch. As Dr. Daniel said, it was a hardship for her to come on her own dime. Inexcusable to not report on the rest of the story- i.e. to not get his side of the story. (Of course it would be his side and he would have a bias. But to NOT get that side is WRONG!)

            If you can’t get the whole story, then you shouldn’t be reporting. Yellow journalism really sucks. I have had this done to me. As a professional, she really was in the wrong for doing this. It’s not like he was offering her a vacation in Hawaii. Come on. Use some common sense.

    • I’ve been using Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil for a few years now. I like it, I feel good and have more energy when I’ve been taking it for a while. I haven’t had my D levels tested, but I don’t have any reason to do so either.

      The only thing I have found Green Pastures to not be totally transparent about is their entire production process. He says he uses “salt, fish broth starter and livers.” His trade secret is in the ‘fish broth starter’. Who knows what he has in it? That’s the only thing he is really being secretive about and I think he has every right to do so. It is a big thing that is protecting his company, his specialty. If he shares that then for sure we will see dozens of competitors pop up. Perhaps that wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but I don’t see why he should be shamed into sharing his recipe secrets.

      As for the claim that he has mis-led consumers by using pollock instead of cod, he says it is industry standard to occasionally substitute one species for another. He said 90% of the livers come from true cod and about 10% from pollock, depending upon market availability of fish. I bet if you tested a dozen different brands of cod liver oil, you would find the source of liver came from many different fish, not just true cod.

      I have to say I am surprised that so many folks are put off on the pollock thing. It *is* a cod, it lives and functions very similar to true cod (there are many species in the cod family). And it’s only 10% of the total volume of his production. Now, if he were using beef liver, chicken liver or some other non-fish liver, I would be furious. I would also be upset if he were using “big fish” livers, such as from shark or tuna, because of heavy metals or PCBs. *That* would be true deception, in my opinion. But he’s not, it’s just cod livers.

      I for one, am not put off by this. I have always thought of pollock as a type of cod, anyways.

      Mr. Wetzel’s response to Dr. Daniels article:
      http://www.greenpasture.org/temp/Blog%20Rebuttal.pdf

      • That’s Bs Josh… if someone says they are using Cod liver then that is what must be used. Not this or that because of seasonal demand. If he is substituting the Livers of Cod with Pollock livers, then he should be straight forward be honest and label it as such..Pollock is not Cod, and pollock is about 1/4 of the price. My question would be where else is he cutting corners; the butter perhaps, how does one know if the butter is from grass fed cows.
        We take the word of producers, small sins are punished by life. In business, especially the health food business never give anyone any reason to doubt your integrity.
        John

      • Actually the pollak makeup of types of fats, as is explained in several of the articles being promoted, is different from the cod makeup and does not have the same nutritional profile. WAP says the ratio of oil types is very important, and in fact having more Omega-6 then -3 is detrimental.

  17. Ya know, even without knowing this, I just do not trust cod liver oil that is not encapsulated. I mean, if you have to drink a bottle of red wine within a few days of it being opened to the air, then I can only imagine that even the best FCLO oxidizes quickly, too.

    But back to the issue, it is sad that companies lie to their consumers – especially when their products are bought by chronically ill people trying to pick and choose the best health products.

    Thanks Chris, for being the good health detective that you are.

    • I’m certainly not an expert on oxidation, but I have learned a thing or two over the years. The example you give about wine I believe is less about oxidation and more about further fermentation. As in, alcohol in the wine being converted/fermented to acetic acid (vinegar) by the processes of acetobacter. Vinegar itself has it’s own anti-oxidant properties.

      I agree that there is probably a small measure of increased oxidation in a liquid bottle of fish oil rather than capsules. But, assuming that the cap is replaced immediately after dosing it out, I would imagine this amount of oxidation is pretty small. And seeing that capsules cost 2-3 times as much as the liquid (per dose), the frugal side of me wins out over a small amount of oxidation.

      Oxidation and anti-oxidants get a lot of attention these days. Trust me, you *can* overdose on anti-oxidants. Our bodies need a certain amount of oxidation going on in the body and too many anti-oxidants can throw this off balance. The Standard American Diet (lots of sweeteners and refined flours) will give one an overload of oxidants, but for folks like myself who no longer eat the SAD, anti-oxidants are already present in my diet and supplementation can be tricky. I’ve experienced it myself and know others who have done the same. It’s all about balance.

      • Josh,
        This is very true! Antioxidants prevent oxidation, and thus reduce tissue damage. But too many anti-oxidants can interfere with oxidation. And our cells need oxygen. Not too much, not too little. Like you said, it’s about balance.

        Oxygen can kill bacteria. That’s why your doctor tells you to let cuts n’ scrapes “breathe” and why oxidative substances like hydrogen peroxide kill germs on contact. Hydrogen peroxide is also made within the body to kill internal germs.

        Combined with iodine in your body, hydrogen is highly oxidative; it also leads to the necessary production of thyroid hormones. Another win for oxidation.

        So anti-oxidants are good. But too much can interfere with oxidation. And oxidation is good. But too much can damage tissue.

        I’m just concerned when its food that is oxidizing, it goes rancid. I think this whole “PUFA uproar” has made me really anal about oils going rancid. How do you feel about PUFA’s (or fish oil since that is what the article is about) and rancidity?

        Thanks, you have eased my mind 🙂

  18. Chris,
    I have the baby code, read Sally Fallon’s books and Sean croxton etc etc. we are now pregnant and I had my plan: cod liver oil and eat liver or take dessicated cod liver pills everyday. Ordered my $60+ “green pasture” fermented cod liver oil orange flavor and could not believe how horrible it was!!! Threw it up and probably got 5 total servings down. Now I have not been nauseous or have issues with throwing up during my pregnancy. Most disgusting product ever and now I can officially feel ok throwing the bottle away. hoping my diet and the vitapearls are enough fish oil for my baby. Thanks for this info.

  19. A good comment from Dr. Masterjohn’s site.

    “Sean CarsonAugust 29, 2015 at 2:14 PM
    Well, I’d like to bring up a somewhat larger question that has kept me away from CLO in general, and that would be comparing some of the manufacturing differences between a couple of the top-tier flax oil producers (Flora and Barlean’s) vs your typical CLO and fish oil manufacturing. What I’ve found interesting is how much care the formerly mentioned manufacturers take to produce and bottle their flax oil: It’s produced in a light, oxygen, and heat free environment and then nitrogen flushed in the bottle. The purpose for all of this, of course, is that flax oil – which is mainly alpha-linolenic acid – is known to go “rancid” pretty quickly.

    So, this is what bothers me: How is it that ALA needs such careful extracting and bottling to prevent rancidity, whereas CLO, and I am mainly talking about the DHA and EPA components – which are super unsaturated and pretty much the most highly unsaturated oils consumed by humans – do not??

    EPA and DHA are much more unsaturated than ALA. They are found in cold water fish because with little UV exposure and such cold temperatures, they remain fluid and stable.

    So, when we’re talking about “fermenting” fish oil basically under circumstances that in no way resemble the kind of way quality flax oil is handled AND we’re talking about consuming those oils and putting them into a 98.6 degree body, I have a hard time swallowing it, if you know what I mean!”

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