My Carlson Cod Liver Oil Review – Is It The Best Cod Liver Oil?

carlson cod liver oil review


If you’re thinking of buying Carlson cod liver oil, you may be wondering if it’s the best one to get.

In this Carlson Cod Liver Oil review I’ll take a closer look at its fish source, amount of omega 3 fatty acids and other ingredients, as well as dosages and pricing.

This is actually a fairly popular omega-3 fish oil supplement you can find in many health food stores.

However, if you live in the USA or Canada, you’ll find there’s a slight difference in the ingredients between the Canadian and USA versions.


This fish oil is a great source of the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

There are a number of published studies showing the potential health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids.

What sets cod liver oils apart from other fish oils is it also contains a natural source of vitamin A and vitamin D.

While doing research for this product review, I learned that the company J.R. Carlson Laboratories, Inc. has been making nutritional supplements for the past 40 years. They offer a large line of vitamins, minerals and other products.



Carlson Cod Liver Oil Review of Manufacturer’s Claims:

The following information is based on product and marketing material I was able to get from Carlson Labs.

  • What’s their Fish Source? Carlson Labs claims to use cod caught in the cold, unpolluted waters near Norway. Marine species living in colder ocean waters are believed to have lower amount of exposure to environmental toxins and contaminants from thermal pollution. If this is true, then I would prefer an oil made from fish that haven’t been exposed to high amounts of mercury and other water-borne pollution. 

  • Carlson Labs claims they use only fresh fish liver extracted from each daily catch of cod to enhance the freshness and purity of their products.

  • How Fresh is this Product? Carlson Labs claims to use a nitrogen gas to maintain freshness. The gas is pumped into the bottle to replace the oxygen, which prevents fatty acid oxidation. This article explains the purpose and benefits of using nitrogen in the chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries.

    For this review, I purchased a bottle from my local health food store and it appeared to smell and taste fresh when I first opened it so I believe the nitrogen-flushing is an effective packaging method.

  • Is it Lab Tested? Carlson Labs claims to regularly test their products with FDA-registered labs that follow AOAC International protocols. Their products are reportedly free of detectable levels of mercury, lead, PCB’s and other contaminants.

    I tried contacting the company to verify their tests results but they have yet to reply to my requests. 


Carlson Cod Liver Oil Review of Actual Ingredients:

cod liver oil reviewSo what do you get in a daily dose of this supplement?

These types of oils provide a natural source of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A & D.

Cod liver oils from the past contain variable amounts of Vitamin A and D. The levels would actually depend on the natural amounts found in the cod livers themselves.

With modern manufacturing techniques, I’ve found most of them now provide more consistent amounts of these vitamins as I think they’re added during processing.

That being said, I did find a difference in Vitamin A and D ingredients used for the USA and CANADIAN versions.

Here’s a label from a bottle of Carlson Cod Liver Oil sold in CANADA showing the ingredient amounts you would get for a single 1 teaspoon (5 ml):


carlson cod  liver oil ingredient label

CANADIAN LABEL of Carlson Cod Liver Oil


As you can see, you get a total of 1100 mg of Omega 3 fatty acids which yields 500 mg of DHA and 400 mg of EPA.

You also get a 100% of the Daily Value of Vitamin D3 at 400 IU, 17% of the Daily Value of Vitamin A at 850 IU and 33% of the Daily Value of Vitamin E at 10 IU.

The ingredient label indicates that the Vitamin A and D are sourced directly from the oils.


And here’s a label of Carlsons Cod Liver Oil sold in the USA:

carlson cod liver oil ingredient review

USA LABEL of Carlson Cod Liver Oil


The USA version of contains a Vitamin A sourced from cod liver oils and retinyl palmitate and Vitamin D is from cod liver oil and cholicalciferol.


Why the difference? I believe this may be due to differences in natural health product labeling regulations between Canada and the USA.

In Canada, retinyl palmitate use is restricted in cosmetic products and it’s actually banned in Germany.  However, Health Canada and the FDA both consider retinyl palmitate to be safe when taken as an oral vitamin. 

vitamin aRetinyl palmitate is basically a synthetic form of Vitamin A (retinol from Vitamin A and palmitate from palm oil) and there’s ongoing controversy on why synthetic vitamins should be avoided.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims there may be increased health risks when retinyl palmitate is applied to skin through sunscreens, but I couldn’t find any information on the health dangers from ingesting it.

How much actual retinyl palmitate you actually get per teaspoon of Carlsons cod liver oil is hard so say, as it doesn’t show this on the label.

I think that this synthetic form of vitamin A is probably blended in with the natural forms found in the oils.

If you choose to use only 100% naturally pure oils, then you may want to look for an alternative product that doesn’t contain a synthetic form of Vitamin A….unless you live in Canada. 



Carlson Cod Liver Oil Review of Price for Soft Gels and Liquids:

You can get this product in soft gel capsules and liquid oils.

There are many pros and cons to cod liver oil capsules. Most people choose the liquid oils due to the higher omega 3 content.

With modern processing techniques, you can now get lemon-flavored cod liver oils so you won’t have to choke down that fishy oil taste.


Carlson Cod Liver Oil Soft Gels:

  • The soft gels are only available in 1000 mg. If you have difficulty swallowing this size of soft gel, you may have to resort to using the liquid oils.

  • Comes packaged in 100 to 300 capsules per bottle.

  • I found the price ranged from $12 to $30 per bottle, depending on quantity and where you buy them.


Carlson Cod Liver Oil Liquids:

  • The liquids come in two sizes: 250 ml and 500 ml bottles.

  • Are available in Lemon, Fruit Splash and Natural Flavors – the ingredient labels don’t indicate what they use for flavoring ingredients.

  • Suggested Retail Price for a 250 ml bottle starts around $22 and a 500 ml bottle can range from $40 – $50.

  • I found a 250 ml size bottle lasted me more than a month at one 50 ml serving per day (50 total servings per bottle).


In spite of the lack of Certificates of Analysis or other third-party testing results for consumers to review, this product appears to be popular with consumers.

More than 90% of customers who bought Carlson Norwegian Cod Liver Oil gave it a 5 Star Rating.

You can also get these fish oils especially made for children. Carlson Labs – Norwegian Cod Liver Oil for Kids is another popular item with many online retailers.

For more helpful tips on buying these types of products, please see my Guide to Buying Cod Liver Oils.

Which ever form of product you choose, I hope this Carlson Cod Liver Oil review will help in your purchasing decisions.



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