Buyer's Guide to the
Best Cod Liver Oil

Looking for the best cod liver oil supplements?

Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and a natural source of vitamins A & D. It's 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 ensure you're getting the best product that will meet your needs.

Determining the type of fish used to make the product, the amount of omega 3 fatty acids per dose and purity levels are all important factors behind a high quality product:

Five Steps for Choosing the Best Cod Liver Oils

  1. Fresh Fish Source - Choose products that source their fish from clear, unpolluted water. The 'hot zone' for this is primarily off the Norway coastline where they've been fishing for arctic cod for thousands of years.

  2. High Omega-3 Concentration - Ensure your product provides a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. Many products provide a minimal amount of EPA and DHA due to the fluctuating amounts found in assorted fish species.

  3. Certificate of Analysis - Check to see if your product comes with certified testing by a third-party laboratory to ensure your product contains exactly what listed on the ingredient label. The products should also be tested to show if they contain any possible traces of detectable contaminants. Some companies will provide these test results for you to see; either directly on their website or by request.

  4. Buy direct from the Source - You should only buy from companies that specialize in producing these types of oils. While many nutritional supplement companies have fish oils in their product line, the majority of these products are produced by only a handful of companies that 'private label' their products for other companies.

    I prefer to get my products direct from companies that specialize in producing fish oils. If you're interested in learning more about a specific product, research the company that produced it to learn more about their manufacturing standards and testing procedures.

  5. Be Aware of Price 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 will usually provide more health benefits.

Soft Gel and Liquid Cod Liver Oils

Just like other omega-3 supplements, you can get these products in liquid and soft gels. Depending on your specific health needs, there are advantages and disadvantages to each one:

1. Liquid Form

Bottled liquids are the most common form of this supplement. Make sure any liquid products you purchase are packaged in dark bottles to prevent light exposure. Some people prefer glass bottles due to possible exposure to BPA's found in some plastic containers.

The average omega 3 fatty acid concentration you'll get in a single tablespoon of cod liver oil is about 500 - 600 mg. of brain-building docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Most liquid products come bottled in 2 sizes:

  • 250 ml

  • 500 ml

I prefer the larger 500 ml. bottle because it works out to a better price per milliliter compared to the smaller bottles. Prices for 500 ml. bottles can average around $40. Average cost for a 250 ml bottle ranges from $20 to $25.

You can get this product in a number of different flavors. One of the most popular is lemon flavored cod liver oil. You can also buy it in orange and strawberry flavors.

I've tried Carlson Cod Liver Oil in lemon and orange flavor. I didn't notice any fishy after-taste and the flavoring helps make the product go down a lot easier. I think these flavors are great idea and make it easier to give your children fish oils. My son, Jeremy, likes getting his daily teaspoonful of fish oils. For some reason, he still likes to 'chase it' with a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice.

2. Soft Gel Capsules

Soft gels are a convenient way to get fish oils since you don't need to refrigerate the bottle after opening and you can pack a few soft gels in your backpack or handbag before going out for the day.

You'll find most brands are commonly available in 1000 mg. soft gels and may be mixed with Vitamin A, D and E.

The main disadvantage with soft gels is you need to take more of them to get the same amount of ingredients you would get in a teaspoon of the liquid oils.

Guide to Buying Cod Liver Oil

Liquid and Soft gel Cod Liver Oil

Liquid vs. Soft Gels: Which is Better?

When I first started buying fish oils, I used to always buy the soft gels. I didn't like the idea of swallowing a spoonful of fish oil. But I soon realized that I could get more omega 3 fatty acids per spoonful, compared to a handful of soft gels.

Here's a breakdown of what you get per dose and the price per dose. I got these results from the Nordic Naturals website. The results are quite interesting....

Comparison of Liquid and Soft Gel Cod Liver Oils
Ingredients One teaspoon
of liquid oil
Two soft gels
of oil
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 625 mg. 250 mg.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 410 mg. 164 mg.
Vitamin A 650 - 1500 iu 260 - 600 iu
Vitamin D 1 - 20 iu 1 - 8 iu
Other Omega 3's 225 mg. 90 mg.
Vitamin E 30 iu 27 iu
Cost per bottle $40 for a 16 ounce bottle $20 for 90 soft gels
Cost per serving 42 cents per teaspoon 44 cents per 2 soft gels
How long each bottle
will last
96 servings of one teaspoon 45 servings of 2 soft gels

You can see that the main advantages of buying cod liver oils in liquid form is you get more ingredients per serving and one bottle will last longer.

You may a higher cost upfront, but the cost per serving is lower than soft gels.

The one advantage of soft gels is the convenience factor. As I mentioned before, you can pop a few soft gels in your backpack and take them whenever you want. Also some people may not like taking fish oils by spoon, even if the product is flavored. For these types of individuals, the soft gel form may be more suitable.

How to Choose the Best Brand

Carlson Labs Cod Liver Oil

You can find these popular marine oils at your local health food store and various on-line retailers.

Some of the major label nutritional supplement companies offer their own brand of cod liver oils; however, most of these products are produced by a third-party manufacturer.

I prefer to use products made by actual cod liver oil manufacturers, such as Carlson Labs and Nordic Naturals.

For your convenience, I've provided this list of a few popular supplements currently available:

  • Carlson Labs Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

    - This is one of the most popular products currently available in North America. You can get it in 250 & 500 ml bottles. Each 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 this product.

    - 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. is currently selling this product for $32.44 so you save about 31% off the Suggested Retail Price.

  • Garden of Life Cod Liver Oil

    - 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 supposedly contains Icelandic cod liver oil and comes in a lemon-mint flavor. Each single 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 as it's unlikely you could 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 Arctic Cod Liver Oil

    - Nordic Naturals produces a genuine Norwegian fish oils. This product contains 180 soft gels containing 1000 mg. The ingredient label suggests a daily serving of 3 soft gels per day which means this bottle will last about 60 days. Each serving of 3 softgels provides EPA - 246 mg, DHA - 375 mg, Other Omega 3 - 756 mg. As you can see, 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 you get per serving. These soft gels are currently selling on for under $35 a bottle.

  • One of the biggest sellers on is Carlson Labs Norwegian Natural Vitamin E Cod Liver Oil This particular fish oil has almost 150 customer reviews with many positive comments.

Choosing to use the best cod liver oil supplement will help ensure you and your family get the benefits you seek. This natural marine oil can provide the nutrients you need for optimal health and vitality.

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