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Buyer’s Guide to the Best Cod Liver Oil
Looking for the best cod liver oil supplements? Here you’ll learn how to choose the best cod liver oils based on omega 3 concentrations, soft gels or liquids, purity and prices.
Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and a natural source of vitamins A & D. It was actually one of the first healthy oils used in households dating back to the 1930’s. If you want to add this nutritional supplement to your diet you want to make sure you’re getting the best product that’ll meet your needs.
Factors such as the type of fish used to make your oils, the amount of omega 3 fatty acids per dose, and the purity of the oils can all play an important part in the quality of product you’re paying for.
Five Steps to Choosing the Best Cod Liver Oil
1. Fresh Fish Source
You should choose products that get their fish from clear, unpolluted water. The ‘hot zone’ for this is off the Norway coastline where they’ve been fishing for arctic cod for hundreds of years.
2. High Omega-3 Concentrations
Does your product provide a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids? Some oils only provide minimal amounts of the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA due to the fluctuating amounts found in different types of fish.
3. Is there a Certificate of Analysis?
Has your product been certified by a third-party lab to guarantee what’s listed on the ingredient label? Certification also guarantees it’s been tested for any traces of contaminants. Some companies provide these test results on their websites or will send them to you by request.
4. Buy Direct from the Source
I prefer to buy oils only from companies that specialize in making cod liver oil. There are many nutritional supplement companies that have fish oils in their product line, but the majority of the world’s fish oils are produced by only a small handful of companies that ‘private label’ their oils for other companies to sell under their own labels.
5. Watch your Prices and Quality
While price may play a part in your decision, remember that low quality products may provide low quality results. Does the company provide proof that they follow strict guidelines for quality control and testing?
Rancid fish oils are one of the primary causes for many side effects from fish oils and the main reason is poor quality controls. I’ve found that premium quality cod liver oils are only a few cents more per dose and the extra cost may help ensure you’re getting a high quality product.
Choosing between Soft Gels and Liquid Products
Just like other fish oils, you can get cod liver oils in liquid and soft gels. Depending on your personal tastes and health needs, there are pro’s and con’s to each form:
1. Liquid Form
Bottled liquids are the most common form and you should make sure they come packaged in dark bottles to prevent light exposure. Some people prefer glass bottles to reduce any possible exposure to BPA’s found in some plastic containers.
The average omega 3 fatty acid concentration in a tablespoon of cod liver oil is about 500 – 600 mg. of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Most liquids come bottled in 2 sizes:
- 250 ml
- 500 ml
I like the 500 ml. sizes because I usually get a better price per milliliter compared to the smaller bottles. Prices for 500 ml. bottles can average around $40 and average price ranges for the 250 ml bottles are about $20 to $25.
You can also get these oils in different flavors. One of the most popular is lemon flavored cod liver oil. I’ve also seen them come in orange and strawberry flavors.
I’ve tried Carlson Cod Liver Oil in both lemon and orange flavor. I didn’t notice any fishy after-taste and I find the flavoring helps make the product go down easier. The flavorings are a great idea and may make it easier to give your children fish oils.
2. Soft Gel Capsules
I think cod liver oil soft gels are a convenient way to get fish oils because you usually don’t need to refrigerate the bottle after opening it and if you ever need to take the oils away from home, you can easily pack a few soft gels in your backpack or handbag before going out for the day.
Most soft gels are available in 1000 mg. soft gels and some come mixed with Vitamin A, D and E.
The main disadvantage with soft gels is you may need to take more of them to get the same amount of ingredients you might get in a teaspoon of the liquid form.
Cod Liver Oil Reviews
You can find these popular marine oils at your local health food store and various on-line retailers.
For your convenience, I’ve provided this list of what I think are some of the best cod liver oil supplements currently available:
One of the most popular products currently available in North America. It comes in 250 & 500 ml bottles.
A single teaspoon provides DHA – 250 mg and EPA – 200 mg, Vitamin A – 425 iu and Vitamin D – 200 iu. The company claims it contains 100% Norwegian cod liver oil. I found it has a pleasant lemon-flavor and I didn’t experience any after-taste or fish burps from it.
Suggested Retail Price for a 500 ml bottle is $46.90, however, you can get it at a discount on most major on-line retailers. Amazon.com is currently selling it for $32.44 so you save about 31% off the Suggested Retail Price.
One of the biggest sellers on Amazon.com is Carlson Labs Norwegian Natural Vitamin E Cod Liver Oil. This product got almost 150 customer reviews with many positive comments.
Garden of Life produces a wide range of nutritional supplements. I haven’t used this particular product, but I have seen it at my local health food store. It contains Icelandic cod liver oil and comes in a lemon-mint flavor.
One teaspoon provides DHA – 453 mg, EPA – 320 mg, Vitamin A – 5000 iu and Vitamin D – 200 iu. With such a high amount of Vitamin A per dose I’m wondering if they’ve added additional Vitamin A to the oil because it’s unlikely you’d get such a high standardized amount from every fish used to make the oil. Nevertheless, this is another popular cod oil product. Retails for $17.46 for an 8 ounce bottle and provides about 44 single servings.
Nordic Naturals is a genuine Norwegian fish oil. You get 180 soft gels containing 1000 mg.
The ingredient label suggests a daily serving of 3 soft gels per day which means a bottle will last about 60 days. Each serving of 3 soft gels provides EPA – 246 mg, DHA – 375 mg and other Omega 3 – 756 mg. The soft gels usually provide a lower dosage compared to liquid products.
I found the soft gels fairly easy to swallow and didn’t experience any fishy after-taste or burps. Suggested Retail Price is $39.95, however, you may find them at a lower price point. I actually paid more than $40 for a bottle at my local health food store which seems a little high for the amount of omega 3 fatty acids per serving. These soft gels are currently selling on Amazon.com for under $35 a bottle.
Search for more Cod Liver Oil at Amazon.com