Cod Liver Oil Products/Brands with Nutrient Levels

© Copyright Bee Wilder, Revised February 19, 2012

– Revised March 3, 2011, to delete taking 2 tablespoons per day of Garden of Life Cod Liver Oil.
– Revised March 15, 2011 to add Premier Quantum Norwegian Cod Liver Oil.
– Revised September 21, 2011 to add the New Formula Garden of Life Cod Liver Oil bottle, with changes to the daily amounts to take.
Revised February 19, 2012 to add Twinlab Norwegian Cod Liver Oil.

NOTE: Most people today are not able to meet all of the requirements for making vitamin D on their skin even in the Summer Months - see "Requirements for Making Enough Vitamin D from the Sun" below - therefore, most people need to take cod liver oil which contains omega 3, and vitamins A and D all year.

Table of Contents


Factors That Affect Vitamin D Levels

  • Antioxidant levels, with natural animals fats being the best antioxidants for humans, i.e. butter, unrefined coconut oil, lard, tallow, chicken and goose fat, fish fat, etc., along with 2,000 to 3,000 omega 3 and 20,000 - 30,000 IU vitamin A (retinol) per day - to understand the difference between natural and unnatural fats see Unnatural Fats & Oils Damage the Entire Body.
  • Diet in general which needs to contain "proper nutrients," i.e. moderate protein, and low-carb, along with high "good" fats as noted above. Note: Carbs are any foods not classified as protein or fat. See Healthy Diet. If a person had candida/yeast they would follow the diet outlined in How to Successfully Overcome Candida
  • Supplements taken - see these basic Supplements to Take that are important for everyone. If the person has candida/yeast they would take Candida Supplements.
  • Eliminating as many toxins as possible, particularly in foods.
  • Age.
  • Skin color (see below).
  • Current tan level.
  • Latitude and altitude (elevation, i.e. distance from the sun), with the Equator being the highest sun exposure.
  • Cloud cover and pollution.
  • Ozone layer.
  • Surface reflection, since reflection off water or ice and snow intensifies sun exposure.
  • Season.
  • Time of day.

Requirements for Making Enough Vitamin D from the Sun

In order to achieve optimal levels of vitamin D from the sun, all of these requirements are important:

  • Sun exposure must be done daily when not taking vitamin D supplements.
  • A minimum of 40% of the body surface (skin) needs to be exposed to the sun.
  • Exposure must be to prime midday sun (10:00 AM to 2:00 PM) when the UBV rays are strongest; UBV are the kind of sun rays that produce vitamin D on the skin.
  • Most people require 800 to 1,200 IU vitamin D minimum daily, in addition to vitamin D found naturally in foods. About 100 to 200 IU of vitamin D is produced for each 5 percent of body surface exposed.
  • Light skinned people need 20 minutes of sun exposure daily, while dark skinned people need 90-120 minutes daily.
  • Natural skin oil is critical to the absorption process since vitamin D is only formed on skin that has enough natural oil formed on its surface and if it stays on the skin long enough after exposure to the sun.

    Chlorine in swimming pools, baths and showers strip away natural oils, and washing with soap removes oils from the skin. Therefore immediately after washing with soap and/or exposure to chlorinated water, chlorine and soap residue should be removed by applying unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil all over the skin's surface. That will allow natural oils to start being built up on its surface, which takes about 24 hours after removing residues, so you should plan your sun exposure accordingly.

    Dr. Mercola claims that we need 48 hours "after proper sun exposure" in order to absorb vitamin D containing oils from the skin surface, so do not wash with chlorinated water, nor go into a chlorinated swimming pool, or wash with soap for two (2) days.

    But remember, in order to get enough vitamin D you need daily exposure to the sun when you do not take vitamin D supplements.

This is why it is difficult, to almost impossible, for most people today to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure. Therefore taking cod liver oil is recommended all year, except for those "rare people" who are able to fulfill all of the requirements above.

Some people may worry that if they are in the sun a lot they will overdose on Vitamin D. However this doesn't happen, and here's why. When you're exposed to the sun, the UVB rays creates vitamin D on your skin, while the UVA rays in the sunlight will tend to destroy excessive levels of vitamin D circulating in your body. That means that even "if" you are taking vitamin D and also getting it from the sun, the UVA rays in sunlight won't allow you to have too much vitamin D.

When You Can Get Enough Vitamin D from the Sun

If you are one of those "rare" people who can meet all of the requirements above for making vitamin D on your skin, take the following:

Winter Months: Take cod liver oil in the Winter months when it is not possible to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure. Cod liver oil contains omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) and vitamins A and D. All of these nutrients work together and are important to obtain daily.

Summer Months: Take fish oil, which contains only omega 3 (EPA & DHA), along with vitamin A (retinol) when you "are" able to obtain enough vitamin D from sun exposure (see below). Vitamin A must be taken in addition to fish oil; buy a vitamin A product that does "not" contain vitamin D, found in halibut, cod, or shark "liver" oil capsules. Do not take other forms of vitamin A, which require conversion to the true form called "retinol" that some people aren't able to do. Fish livers produce "true" vitamin A (retinol) that does not require conversion in the body.

Sunscreen & Sunblock Products are Toxic

Excerpts from Sunblock Can Actually Increase Your Cancer Risk by Dr. Mercola.

The rising rate of skin cancer has put using sunscreen and sunblock right up there with flossing your teeth when it comes to healthy habits. In 2002, 50 percent--approximately 1.1 million cases--of all cancers in the United States were skin cancers, of which nearly 10,000 cases were fatal. It is easy to understand why many people have become fearful of the sun's warmth and glow.

However, it is not commonly appreciated, especially among traditional medical doctors, that the food you eat is far more important to the development of skin cancers than sun exposure.

At the beginning of 1900 we had very little processed vegetable oils in our diet. When vegetables oils are processed and refined and consumed in large amounts they can cause major health problems.

Most vegetables are very high in omega-6 fats. In the last 100 years the U.S. population has gone from consuming virtually no vegetable fats to consuming more than 70 pounds per year. Fats from corn oil, safflower, sunflower, sesame and other oils are virtually 100 percent omega-6 fats.

This high consumption of omega-6 fats totally distorts the important omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, and this ratio is one of the keys to obtaining any type of cancer, but especially skin cancer.

So not only will we benefit from consuming additional omega-3 fats, but it is vital to reduce the omega-6 vegetable oils as much as possible. Ideally, the ratio should be 1:1, but most Americans have a 15:1 ratio. The Japanese are the longest-lived culture on earth, and their ratio is about 3:1.

If you don't believe me on this one, I encourage you to check out one of the top cancer journal articles Cancer Res 2000 Aug 1;60(15):4139-45: "Epidemiological, experimental, and mechanistic data implicate omega-6 fat as stimulators and long-chain omega-3 fats as inhibitors of development and progression of a range of human cancers, including melanoma."

Ten years ago an Australian study showed a 40 percent reduction in melanoma (skin cancer) for those who were eating fish--and this was without any attention to lowering omega-6 fats.

Two years ago, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review showing that the omega 6:3 ratio was the key to preventing skin cancer development.

So, do I recommend you pop some fish oil pills and go out and get as much sun as you would like? Absolutely not.

You must exercise caution. At the beginning of the season go out gradually, perhaps as little as 10 minutes a day. Progressively increase your time in the sun so that in a few weeks, you will be able to have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer.

Remember never to get burned, that is the key. Remember also never to use sunscreen or sunblock products. You can creatively use your clothing to block the sun's rays during your build-up time or use safe oils on your skin like unrefined coconut oil, which actually helps the skin build up natural oils.

The bottom line is: please avoid getting sucked into the hype that sunlight is dangerous. It is only dangerous if you are clueless about fat nutrition, which most medical doctors are. If you choose to ignore your omega 6:3 ratio and stay out of the sun, you could limit your risk of skin cancer, but is that worth the risk of getting MS, breast or prostate cancer? I think not.

The only risks from UVB rays are overexposure, which doesn't occur if you avoid getting sunburned and eat a healthy diet. All sun screen products contain toxic chemicals that absorb through your skin, and interfere with your skin's ability to make vitamin D. Even more important, toxic chemicals add to your toxic burden which increases your cancer risk because it causes damage on a cellular level.

Unrefined Coconut Oil Sunscreen is Safe & Healthy

Excerpts from The Coconut Diet and Skin Health.

One of the most interesting facts about people who live in tropical climates like the Philippines, where the people are constantly exposed to the rays of the sun year round, is that skin cancer is almost unheard of in these places. Here in the US we are constantly warned about the dangers of exposure to the sun, and yet the sun helps our bodies produce much needed nutrients for our skin, such as Vitamin D, which has been shown to prevent cancer.2

Once again we see that coconut oil is probably one of the main reasons people in tropical climates can spend so much time in the sun and not suffer from skin cancer. Coconut oil has wonderful antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage. Also, when coconut oil is consumed and used topically on our skin, it helps our bodies absorb other nutrients more effectively as well, such as Vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant nutrient that protects the skin.

Therefore, the safest and healthiest sunscreen to use is unrefined coconut oil - see How Do You Identify a Good Quality Coconut Oil? by Dr. Bruce Fife, an internationally recognized expert on the health and nutritional aspects of coconut and related products.

Recommended Daily Amounts of Omega 3, and Vitamins A & D

  1. Vitamin A:  20,000 IU - 30,000 IU
  2. Vitamin D:  800 IU - 1,200 IU
  3. Omega-3:  2,000 mg - 3,000 mg [EPA plus DHA]

Examples of Nutrient Variations in Cod Liver Oil Products

Unfortunately, as you can see from the brands listed below, levels of nutrients vary greatly from one brand/product to another.

There is no ideal product, however Arctic Cod Liver Oil by Nordic Naturals contains totally inadequate levels of vitamins A and D and it also contains orange oil and trace amounts of milk and soy, which are unacceptable.

Garden of Life is the closest to ideal, and it contains natural vitamins A & D.

Each product below contains notes on how much to take and additional supplements required. Please Note: Small amounts of vitamin E are added as a preservative.

Arctic Cod Liver Oil by Nordic Naturals

Arctic Cod Liver OilNot Recommended because it contains traces of milk and soy, and not enough vitamins A and D.

1 tsp. 2 tsp.
Vitamin A 1000-2000 2000-4000
Vitamin D 1-20 2-40
Vitamin E 5 10
DHA (Omega-3) 625 1,250
EPA (Omega-3) 410 820
Other Omega-3 225 450
Total Omega-3 1,260 2,520
Oleic Acid (Omega-9) 600 1,200

Ingredients: purified arctic cod liver oil, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), 100% natural orange oil. No gluten, yeast, artificial colors or flavors. May contain traces of milk and/or soy derivatives.

Garden of Life, Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil (glass bottle) - Highly Recommended!

There are two different formulas on bottles of Garden of Life Cod Liver Oil. Because of the differences in nutrient amounts, the recommended daily amount to take are different too! So please check the label on your bottle to determine whether it is the Old Formula or the New Formula and refer to the correct one below for recommended daily amounts.

  1. Old Formula Garden of Life CLO

    Available at iHerb - $10.68 US for 8 fluid ounces (235 ml), which is about 15 tablespoons per bottle.

    Revised March 3, 2011 to delete taking 2 tablespoons per day.

    Daily Dose: Take 1 tablespoon plus a fish "liver" oil capsule that contains 10,000 IU vitamin A & 400 IU vitamin D, i.e. halibut, cod, or shark - see iHerb.


    1 tsp. 2 tsp. 1 tbl.
    Vitamin A 5,000 10,000 15,000
    Vitamin D 200 400 600
    DHA (Omega-3) 453 906 1,359
    EPA (Omega-3) 320 640 960
    Total Omega-3* 962 1,924 2,319

    *Other kinds of Omega-3s are included. Ingredients: Icelandic Cod Liver Oil, natural lemon essence, natural peppermint essence, alpha tocopherol (vitamin E).

  2. New Formula Garden of Life CLO

    Available at iHerb - $10.68 US for 8 fluid ounces (235 ml), which is about 15 tablespoons per bottle.

    Daily Dose: Take 2 teaspoons plus a fish "liver" oil capsule that contains 10,000 IU vitamin A (without vitamin D), i.e. halibut, cod, or shark - see iHerb.


    1 tsp. 2 tsp.
    Vitamin A 4,500 9,000
    Vitamin D 450 900
    DHA (Omega-3) 400 800
    EPA (Omega-3) 447 894
    Other Omega-3s 594 1,188
    Total Omega-3 1,441 2,734

    Ingredients: Icelandic Cod Liver Oil, natural lemon essence, natural peppermint essence, alpha tocopherol (vitamin E).

Carlson Cod Liver Oil (glass bottle)

Available at iHerb, however, Garden of Life is less expensive (above).

Daily Dose: Take 1 tablespoon plus 20,000 IU vitamin A (without vitamin D) found in fish "liver" oil capsules, i.e. halibut, cod, and shark - see iHerb.


1 tsp. 2 tsp. 1 tbl.
Vitamin A 850 1,700 2,550
Vitamin D 400 800 1,200
DHA (Omega-3) 500 1,000 1,500
EPA (Omega-3) 400 800 1,200
Ala (Omega-3) 40 80 120
Total Omega-3 940 1,880 2,820

Other Ingredients: Lemon and/or mint flavored.

Premier Quantum Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Available at iHerb Discontinued at iHerb.

Daily Dose: Take 1 teaspoon plus another Fish Oil supplement (softgel or liquid) that contains only Omega 3 (EPA plus DHA) so the total Omega 3 for the two supplements is 2,000 - 3,000 mg.


1/2 tsp. 1 tsp.
Vitamin A 6,250 12,500
Vitamin D 625 1,250
DHA (Omega-3) 253 506
EPA (Omega-3) 175 350
Total Omega-3 428 856

Other Ingredients: Radiant Life confirmed that their oil only contains Cod Liver Oil and vitamin E.

Twinlab, Norwegian Cod Liver Oil, Unflavored, 12 fl oz (355 ml)

Available at iHerb.

Daily Dose: take 2 teaspoons per day with 1 Vitamin A softgel/capsule, 10,000 IU (no Vitamin D).


1 tsp. 2 tsp.
Vitamin A 4,615 9,230
Vitamin D 462 924
DHA (Omega-3) 369 738
EPA (Omega-3) 554 1,108
Total Omega-3 970 1,940

There are no other ingredients.

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