If you are looking for the best cod liver oil supplements on the market there are some quality considerations to keep in mind. Fermented cod liver oil is a traditional extraction of cod liver oil and holds some unique benefits.
But, because the fermented kind can be more challenging to find, other high-quality cod liver oil supplements are reviewed for you in this post as well.
Also, find out some impressive health benefits of cod liver oil, brands of cod liver oil and their features, how to take it, and precautions to take when using cod liver oil in this post.
Best Cod Liver Oil Supplements Overview
Cod liver oil is very nutritious, but the quality can vary substantially from brand to brand. To get the best cod liver oil supplements, you should pick those that are ideally from fermented cod liver oil.
This is because the fermentation process does not degrade the fragile omega-3 fats and helps to retain all nutrients and cofactors. It also enhances the amount of vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K that are naturally present in cod liver oil.
Cod liver oils, simply put, are superior to other fish oils nutritionally. And cod liver oil contains the triglyceride molecular form of omega-3 fatty acids, which are absorbed much more easily than ester forms that are common on the market today.
Cofactors included in cod liver include pro-resolving mediators which help to dampen inflammation via a healthy immune response according to Dr. Bland’s research.
Generally speaking, fermentation also increases the antioxidant content of foods, and cod liver oil is no exception.
There are also some high-quality fish oil products that use raw cod liver oil or naturally purified cod liver oil which are a close second in quality.
Another important criterion for cod liver oil is that it contains natural vitamin A and vitamin D from the source liver. And synthetic vitamins don’t work as well as natural ones.
Best Cod Liver Oil Overall: Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil
For decades, Green Pasture brand cod liver oil has been the gold standard for fermented cod liver oil. This natural cod liver oil is fermented from sustainably sourced cod in the Bering Sea and also is MSC Certified for sustainability.
Because of the natural fermentation process, the vitamin content varies from fish to fish. That is why you won’t see a vitamin amount listed on the label. It is considered the best cod liver oil for arthritis because of its unique fermentation process.
- 88 servings per bottle, 2 ml per serving
- $0.44 per serving at the time of this post on Amazon, $0.32 on Swanson’s Vitamins
- Comes in cinnamon and unflavored varieties
- Raw fermented cod liver oil
- No other ingredients
- MSC certified
- Because of the fermentation process, no refrigeration is required
- A bit more expensive due to its natural process
Best Cod Liver Oil with Butter Oil: Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil / Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend
Very similar to Green Pasture’s Fermented Cod Liver oil, but Green Pasture Blue Ice Royal Butter Oil has the advantage of also containing butter oil. Reviewers love this for dental health and report that it reduces teeth sensitivity and even may help restore enamel and prevent cavities according to research. Weston A. Price’s early work showed that the combination of butter oil and cod liver oil reduced cavities markedly.
Please note that Blue Ice® Royal Blend Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Concentrated Butter Oil Blend is now referred to as Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Concentrated Butter Oil Blend.
- Contains fermented cod liver oil liquid and butter oil
- Both capsules and oil are available
- Sustainably sourced from the Bering Sea near Alaska by Alaskan Leader Seafoods.
- MSC Certified
- Green Pasture Products guarantee the quality of their products
- Great for kids and adults
- The serving size is 2 capsules
- The cost is $0.38 per capsule at the time of this post on both Amazon and Swanson’s Vitamins
- Has less omega-3 fats than most because it contains butter oil
Best Cod Liver Oil Capsules: ARMORICA Fermented Cod Liver Oil
Armorica Fermented Cod Liver Oil is another reputable brand that is high quality and fermented in a natural way through lacto-fermentation to retain all the benefits and nutrients of this precious cod liver oil. A feature that makes this product stand out is that it is in a slow-release capsule to prevent fishy taste and fish burps.
- Cold-processed, Lacto-Fermented, and Raw Cod Liver Oil
- $0.25 per capsule
- 60 servings per container
- Natural omega-3 fatty acids along with vitamins A, D, and K and pro-resolving mediators, and other cofactors
- No synthetic ingredients
- 3rd party tested for safety and purity
- Unflavored but most people find it has a mild and pleasant taste
Best for Clinical Benefits: Jigsaw Health Cod Liver Oil
Jigsaw Health Cod Liver Oil stands out as one of the best cod liver oil supplements because this brand discloses the amount of vitamins, minerals, as well as pro-resolving mediators that it contains. It is Marine Steward Council certified, meaning it is also certified sustainable. Also, this cod liver oil supplement is one of the highest-rated on the market today.
- $0.25 per capsule on Fullscript and $0.33 per capsule on Amazon
- The serving size is 3 capsules per day
- 60 servings per bottle
- Naturally occurring vitamins A and D as well as 175 mcg of pro-resolving mediators per serving
- This includes 14-HDHA, 17-HDHA, and 18-HEPE
- 800 mcg natural vitamin A
- 240 IU natural vitamin D
- 900 mg omega 3 fats per serving
- Natural vitamin E added to maintain freshness
- Not fermented, but very highly rated and retains the pro-resolving mediators
Best Small Company Cod Liver Oil: Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil Liquid
Rosita Cod Liver Oil is a reputable yet small cod liver oil company that uses the traditional method of cod liver oil extraction without heat or chemicals. Sustainably caught cod from fish in Norway. This highly rated brand is purity and safety tested as well.
- $12.99 per ounce with 5 ounces per bottle
- Unprocessed cod liver oil
- 3rd party testing for heavy metals and contains pure cod liver oil. These results are posted online.
- Meets WHO and European standards for safety and purity
- Tastes like pure cod liver oil
- More expensive than most
Best Tasting: On Target Living
On Target Living Cod Liver oil gets rave reviews for taste and even people who dislike fish oil find this one appealing. Like most previously mentioned brands, this one is also MSC certified for sustainability and also by Kosher Agency KSA. Many reviewers love this fish liver oil because it helps their hair, skin, and nails grow well.
- $0.42 per serving (per teaspoon) and 100 servings per bottle
- Organic lemon flavor
- Highly rated by over 1,000 reviewers
- From the Bering Sea in Alaska
- 540 IU vitamin D per serving from cod liver
- 810 IU vitamin A naturally occurring from liver oil
- 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids, including 425 mg of DHA and 425 mg of EPA
- Does not specify if it is fermented
Best Cod Liver Oil for Vitamins: NutraPro International Virgin Cod Liver Oil
In only ½ teaspoon, Nutrapro International Virgin Cod Liver Oil contains around 2500 IU of vitamin A and 250 IU of vitamin D. This makes it the best for getting a good amount of vitamin A in a small dose. It also has a potent amount of omega-3s with 600 mg in just half of a teaspoon. And, it gets great reviews for its mild taste and freshness.
- Transparency: The company lists its third-party testing on its website
- Comes in 4 flavors: unflavored, peppermint, lemon, peppermint, and lemon
- $0.44 per serving at the time of this post
- High in vitamins A and D
- Very absorbable because it is in triglyceride form
- Not fermented but the company states that it is purified using an “effective and gentle” manner.
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil
Nordic Naturals Artic Cod Liver Oil is a reputable brand worth mentioning on this list because it is Friend of the Sea certified and made in a factory that is zero waste.
- Comes in orange, strawberry, lemon, and unflavored
- $0.42 per serving on Amazon, $0.29 on Swanson’s at the time of this post
- 340 mg EPA and 510 mg DHA per teaspoon
- Clean Eating Magazine’s Clean Choice Award
- Very absorbable omega-3s because of their triglyceride form
- Not from fermented cod liver oil so it may not have pro-resolving mediators
Best Budget Cod Liver Oil Capsules: Swanson’s Pristine Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
If you want a high-quality cod liver oil on a shoestring budget, Swanson’s Pristine Norwegian Cod Liver Oil is a great one. At only $0.08 per capsule, you can help your body get the essential nutrients it needs. To get to a typical dose, you will need 3 capsules, but it is still only $0.24 at that dose, making it the best bargain. It also comes exclusively from Norwegian codfish that is cold-pressed, so all nutrients and cofactors are retained.
- $0.08 per capsule and $0.24 per typical serving size
- 60 gelcaps per container so you should buy more than one bottle for a month’s supply
- Free shipping on orders over $50
- 100% pure cod liver oil from Norwegian cod liver
- Cold-pressed for high-quality oil
- Vitamin A 13% DV per capsule
- Vitamin D 5% per capsule
- EPA 100 mg per capsule and DHA 70 mg per capsule
- Not fermented but next best because it is cold-pressed
Another cod liver oil worth mentioning is Standard Process Cod Liver oil because the brand has decades of quality products and a high reputation. The purity of the products from Standard Process is unmatched. And it is a great bargain if you buy it on Fullscript compared to Amazon.
- $0.58 on Fullscript and $0.96 per serving on Amazon at the time of this post
- Natural lemon flavor
- 3 softgels per serving
- 300 mg DHA and 210 mg EPA per serving
- Contains glycerine, sunflower oil, and rosemary extract as well
- 600 mcg of vitamin A and 2.3 mcg (92 IU) of vitamin D per serving
- Sourcing and extraction methods aren’t mentioned on the Standard Process website
Best Budget Liquid Cod Liver Oil: Engelvaer Piping Rock Cod Liver Oil
Engelvaer Piping Rock Cod Liver Oil is a very highly rated cod liver oil that won’t break the bank at only $0.17 per serving. For such a great cod liver oil, this one is 3rd party tested and gets 4.8 stars from 69 reviewers.
- Made from pure Norwegian cod liver oil
- GMP certified company
- Highly rated product
- $0.17 per serving
- 4,585 mg of Cod Liver Oil per serving
- 320 mg EPA and 410 mg DHA per serving
- Non-GMO and Gluten Free
- Laboratory tested
- Comes in a natural lemon flavor or unflavored
- The extraction method isn’t mentioned
Best Cod Liver Oil for Vitamin D: Now Brand Extra Strength Cod Liver Oil
Now Brand Extra Strength Cod Liver Oil is worth mentioning because this brand has hundreds of reputable products that stand the test of time. This particular cod fish oil is a great bargain too. With almost 4000 reviews and 4.8-star ratings, customers love this product.
- $0.08 per capsule and $0.24 per typical dose
- Provides 400 IU vitamin D per capsule (from cholecalciferol and cod fish liver oils)
- 300 mcg of vitamin A per capsule (added retinyl palmitate and natural vitamin A from cod liver oil
- Soy free
- Kosher and Halal
- GMP certified company
- No synthetic vitamins
- The extraction method for these cod liver pills is unknown
Cod Liver Oil Benefits
Cod liver oil supplementation goes back all the way to the ancient Romans and was used by Hippocrates.
The healthy types of omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oils are:
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is important for brain development and maintenance
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is helpful in keeping the heart healthy and joints healthy
Known to decrease inflammation, especially when fermented, cod liver oil may help prevent strokes, heart disease, arthritic conditions, and more.
Natural cod liver oils also contain antioxidants and also have natural amounts of choline which is a nutrient that helps with brain health.
Last but not least, the omega-3 fats from cod liver oil are easily absorbed because it is in the triglyceride form. In contrast, many purified fish oils aren’t easily absorbed because they are in ester form. This means that cod liver oil is better absorbed than most kinds of fish oils on the market.
Related post: Cod Liver Oil vs Fish Oil: Which is Best?
How to Choose the Best Cod Liver Oil
A good cod liver oil contains between 1000-5000 IU of vitamin A per teaspoon or around 20-100% of the RDI. The tolerable upper limit of vitamin A is 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) per day.
You will notice that some of the best cod liver oils do not list the amount of vitamin A because this nutrient can vary a lot from fish to fish.
Cod liver oil is also a natural source of vitamin D. However, don’t rely solely on cod liver oil for vitamin D deficiency. Make sure to check your blood levels of vitamin D regularly.
But cod liver oil can be helpful because it typically contains around 200 to 400 IU of vitamin D per teaspoon.
Is There Too Much Vitamin A in Cod Liver Oil?
Research indicates that cod liver oil has a safe amount of vitamin A. This is because it is balanced with other healthy antioxidants and vitamin D. For example, one study found that women had better bone density with higher amounts of cod liver oil in their diets.
People eating a high-protein diet also have higher vitamin A requirements, so cod liver oil is especially healthy for you if you eat more protein than the average person.
However, if you are pregnant, you should first check with your healthcare provider before supplementing cod liver oil.
Is Cod Liver Oil Safe?
Fish can contain heavy metals and contaminants, so it’s reasonable to wonder if cod liver oil is safe. Fish oils can contain toxins like persistent organic pollutants or mercury.
This can be an issue due to the water quality where the fish live.
In order to be assured that your cod liver oil is safe, make sure to find one that has GMP certification or has heavy metal analysis and analysis for other toxins for their products.
Why Choose Fermented Cod Liver Oil?
Fermenting cod liver oil is a traditional way of extracting the oil from cod livers. By naturally fermenting in a brine, the fat rises to the top where it can be extracted. This process retains all the nutrients, antioxidants, and cofactors of this healthy type of oil.
Fermentation also helps break down any toxins in cod liver oil, making it naturally more safe than other types of fish oil. Generally speaking, fermented foods have more bioavailable nutrients than non-fermented foods as well.
The natural process of cod liver oil fermentation increases its antioxidant status. This helps make the oil more nutritious but also more stable and prevents this healthy oil from becoming rancid according to research.
Notably, fermented cod liver oil also contains amino acids that are not present in other types of cod liver oil. Including 2-phenylethylamine, tyramine, and tryptamine.
Some people have sensitivities to these amino acids, but most people generally gain health benefits from them and they can boost their mood. However, these compounds can cause sensitivities in some people and should be avoided if you are on a rare medication called an MAOI inhibitor.
Frequently asked questions
What strength of cod liver oil is best?
Generally speaking, it is good to get around 1000 mg of cod liver oil daily, or around 300 mg of EPA and DHA each per day.
Is cod liver oil the same as fish oil?
No. Cod liver oil is more nutritious and better absorbed than most fish oils.
How long does it take cod liver oil to work?
Cod liver oil can take a few weeks to have its optimal benefits. Your baseline diet and intake of other supplements will also impact how much of a difference you will notice in your health. Generally, avoiding sugar and processed foods is a good idea and will help optimize your response.
Is cod liver oil omega 3?
Yes. Cod liver oil has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids that have numerous health benefits.
Are there any side effects of cod liver oil?
Rarely. You should avoid cod liver oil if you are allergic to codfish. Some people get fish burps, but high-quality cod liver oil makes this less likely to happen.
When to take cod liver oil capsules? morning or night?
You can take cod liver capsules or fish oil capsules whenever it fits best into your routine. Some people do better if they take small doses several times a day. This can minimize any fish burps or upset stomachs.
Can you combine fish oil and cod liver oil?
Yes. Taking both fish oil and cod liver oil can optimize the amount of omega-3 fats you get in your diet. Just make sure to follow the dosing instructions on the label and discuss taking these supplements with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your supplement routine.
Should I take cod liver oil or omega-3 for arthritis?
Both are helpful for arthritis, but cod liver oil is better absorbed and more nutritious so cod liver oil may be more beneficial for both Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Do men or women have more benefits from cod liver oil?
Both stand to benefit from cod liver oil. In fact, traditionally, children also take cod liver oil so it is healthy for them too. It reduces inflammation, may help strengthen bones, and help prevent heart disease. Cod liver even reduces the chances of frailty.
Cod liver oil may also help the body make a normal amount of testosterone.
Are there cod liver oil benefits for women?
Yes. In fact, vitamin A from cod liver oil may reduce heavy menstrual periods and support hormonal health in women.
Also, cod liver oil may increase the body’s natural production of estrogen and progesterone.
Can I get vitamin A toxicity from cod liver oil?
There is some controversy about taking cod liver oil because it may raise your vitamin A levels to toxic levels.
Realistically though, this has never been reported.
Less than 10 cases of vitamin A toxicity occur per year, according to research, and usually happen when people take separate vitamin A supplements.
As long as you eat less than 10,000 IU per day of vitamin A (the tolerable upper limit), you won’t get too much.
You would have to get more than 2-5 servings of cod liver oil daily to get too much vitamin A.
This tolerable upper limit of vitamin A gives a range of safety around it as well, and according to data from the National Health and Examination Survey, a third of Americans don’t even meet the bare minimum requirements of vitamin A. In other words, deficiency of vitamin A is a much bigger problem than toxicity.
To learn more about vitamin A, visit Weston Price.
Is cod liver oil good for skin and hair?
Yes. The omega-3 fats and vitamins are very healthy for skin and hair. Many people report thicker hair and less loss of hair. Additionally, they report brighter and younger-looking skin when taking cod liver oil.
Is it better to take cod liver oil in a capsule or a liquid form?
Both forms are equally as good to take.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.