On December 23, 2008, Dr. Joseph Mercola, owner of the popular holistic website mercola.com, issued a statement, “Important Cod Liver Oil Update,” in which he rescinded his long-standing recommendation to take cod liver oil. The Weston A. Price Foundation received dozens of inquiries about this statement and it is for this reason that we have devoted much of this issue to the subject of cod liver oil.
Mercola’s official pronouncement is a strange mixture of true statements and illogical sequelae, conflicting reasoning and unexplained omissions. While it is unfortunate that Mercola has joined establishment voices against vitamin A, what concerns us most is not the fact that Dr. Mercola disagrees with us, but that he misrepresents the WAPF message on the importance of vitamin A in the modern diet.
The following is a point-by-point rebuttal, with Mercola’s statements in bold.
Mercola Statement: For years, I have recommended cod liver oil as a dietary supplement to support healthy vitamin D levels. However, based on more recent findings, I am updating my recommendations regarding cod liver oil, as it may not serve you as well as previously believed. My previous recommendation was based on the fact that cod liver oil contains vitamins D and A in addition to healthy omega-3 fats. These vitamins are essential for most everyone who cannot get regular sun exposure year-round.
WAPF Response: It is a true statement that vitamins A and D are essential for “most everyone” but contrary to the implication that follows, we do not get vitamin A from sunlight. Mercola is correct in stating that cod liver oil may not serve us as well as previous believed. That is because most cod liver oil today has had a large part of the vitamin D removed during processing. We warned our readers about this situation in an article on the manufacture of cod liver oil in the Winter 2005 issue of Wise Traditions. This is why we recommend only those brands of cod liver oil that contain adequate vitamin D (as well as adequate vitamin A).
Mercola Statement: But more recent research has discovered that the ratios of these two vitamins may be of paramount importance in order to extract optimal health benefits, and unfortunately, modern cod liver oil does not supply these vitamins in healthy ratios to each other.
WAPF Response: A detailed explanation of this research was compiled by Chris Masterjohn and published in Wise Traditions, Fall, 2005 (Vitamin A on Trial: Does Vitamin A Cause Osteoporosis?). The Weston A. Price Foundation was the first organization to provide the public with this important information. We noted that most—but not all—cod liver oil does not supply vitamins A and D together in the right ratio. Mercola avoids telling his readers that we can still obtain cod liver oil that contains adequate vitamin D, a fact with which he is surely familiar since he seems familiar with all the other information on cod liver oil posted at westonaprice.org.
Basically, adults need about 1000 IU vitamin D daily to avoid vitamin A toxicity. This can be supplied by a dose of a recommended brand of cod liver oil that provides 10,000 IU vitamin A, which is a completely safe dose of natural vitamin A. Our recommended brands of cod liver oil are listed in our shopping guide and posted on our website.
Mercola Statement: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VITAMINS A AND D IN COD LIVER OIL
At least 2,000 genes, or nearly 10 percent of your genes, have been identified that are directly influenced by vitamin D, which in turn impact a wide variety of health issues, from preventing the common cold and flu to inhibiting at least sixteen different types of cancer. There’s even evidence linking vitamin D to the process of brain detoxification of heavy metals such as mercury.
Widespread vitamin D deficiency has also been strongly linked to the childhood epidemics of autism, asthma, and diabetes, both type 1 and 2. Vitamin A, which is essential for your immune system just like vitamin D, is also a precursor to active hormones that regulate the expression of your genes, and they work in tandem. For example, there is evidence that without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. But if you’re deficient in vitamin A, vitamin D cannot function properly either.
WAPF Response: These statements are all true. The information about the importance of balance between vitamins A and D comes from our website.
Mercola Statement: There are many problems with modern cod liver oil but one of the primary ones is that there is no standard definition of what constitutes cod liver oil. Manufacturers are free to add or subtract as much vitamin A or D as they see fit.
WAPF Response: This is a true statement to which we have alerted our readers in several places on our website. When it comes to cod liver oil, it is important to read the labels!
Mercola Statement: In fact cod liver oil was discovered in the sewers of England several hundred years ago by starving children who drank it and scientists noticed they did not get rickets. Cod liver oil is in fact a highly processed food that was never consumed by humans prior to this.
WAPF Response: Reference please?? In fact, for thousands of years, traditional peoples from Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Russia, North America and the South Seas have valued the oil from cod and other species of fish and shark. Medical research on the benefits of cod liver oil dates back to the 1700s. The notion of cod liver oil running through the sewers of England is ludicrous—if cod liver oil is a new, highly processed food, how did it get into those English sewers hundreds of years ago? How could it have been manufactured before it was even discovered?
Mercola Statement: PRIMARY JUSTIFICATION FOR WHY YOU SHOULD AVOID COD LIVER OIL
There have been two recent meta-analyses done. The first one showed that people who took vitamin A supplements in cod liver oil, or in supplements, had an 18 percent increase in death rates.
WAPF Response: Mercola is referring to a meta-analysis by Bjelakovic and others published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2007 Feb 28;297(8):842-57), cited in the Cannell study and discussed in depth on page 23. This analysis looked at selected randomized trials involving adults given beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. By manipulating the data in a certain way, the researchers claimed they found an association with supplement consumption, including vitamin A consumption, and increased mortality. Actually, only two of the studies included in the meta-analysis involved vitamin A given alone, neither of which even mentioned cod liver oil. Both were small studies and in neither did the authors claim that vitamin A had any effect on mortality. By referring to the meta-analysis rather than the individual studies, Cannell was able to avoid mentioning the fact that the two small studies offered no useful information about the effect of vitamin A on mortality.
Mercola Statement: The other study showed that unlike third world countries where vitamin A supplementation appears to decrease infections, vitamin A supplementation in developed countries like the U.S. actually increases infections.
The researchers believe this is due to massive nutritional deficiencies in the third world because most of their calories are from grains and they simply don’t have an opportunity to consume as many fresh fruits, vegetables, butter, eggs and other vitamin A-containing foods that those in the developed world do.
In fact current research could not find any vitamin A deficiency at all, but approximately 5 percent had vitamin A toxicity. The converse is true in the third world where vitamin A toxicity is virtually unheard of, yet vitamin A deficiency is pervasive.
WAPF Response: As discussed in the sidebar “Does Vitamin A Increase the Risk of Infections?” in Chris Masterjohn’s article “The Cod Liver Oil Debate,” the analysis cited by Mercola did not even look at vitamin A supplementation in the U.S. but was a meta-analysis that pooled the results of nine studies conducted in India, Ecuador, Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana, Mexico and the Republic of Congo. Several of these studies have suggested that vitamin A may reduce the incidence of respiratory infection in malnourished children but increase it in well-nourished children, but none of them present evidence that the effect of vitamin A depends on vitamin A status or that vitamin A is helpful in the Third World but harmful in the developed world.
A number of studies included in the meta-analysis showed vitamin A to have no effect on respiratory infections while nevertheless reducing severe diarrhea by over 20 percent, gastrointestinal-associated mortality by over a third, infection-associated mortality by half, and measles incidence by 95 percent. The general picture that emerges from the scientific literature is that vitamin A consistently reduces mortality from severe infectious diseases but has a more complicated relationship to lower respiratory infections that we still do not completely understand.
Mercola Statement: Additionally new research has shown that vitamin D protects against cancer. But a paradox was found as those with higher vitamin D levels did not seem to have this benefit. A bright Harvard researcher carefully analyzed the data in the study that showed this and found that when he removed the people with high vitamin A and vitamin D levels, those with normal vitamin A levels and high vitamin D levels continued to have reduced risk of colon cancer. So those that did not take vitamin A had the protective effect from higher levels of vitamin D.
WAPF Response: In this report, which was based on data drawn from the Nurses’ Healthy Study and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, 2007, total intake of vitamin D from foods and supplements was associated with a lower risk of colon cancer when total vitamin A intakes were below 5,000 IU, but not when total vitamin A intakes were above 5,000 IU. The vitamin D intakes in this study, however, were very low. Even the 20 percent of people consuming the most vitamin D consumed an average of less than 600 IU. If the participants were receiving a lot of sunshine, the thousands of IU from that source would likely have diluted any effect of the vitamin D, so the strong association at low vitamin A intakes suggests they were not receiving much sunshine. Basic adequacy of vitamin D status would require over three times the highest intakes consumed in the study.
In order to truly indict intakes of over 5,000 IU of vitamin A as excessive, evidence should be provided from a population consuming adequate vitamin D. As soon as someone begins taking vitamin D supplements at the levels recommended by Dr. Mercola and the Vitamin D Council, they are no longer a member of the vitamin D-deficient population studied in the Nurses’ Health Study so the results of that study do not apply to them. It must be emphasized, moreover, that correlations never show causation. We can use the observations in this study to hypothesize that high vitamin A intakes antagonize the beneficial effects of vitamin D intakes when vitamin D intakes are very low, but in order to demonstrate this premise, studies must be performed showing that increasing vitamin D intakes or decreasing retinol intakes reduce the risk of colon cancer compared to controls.
Mercola Statement: Other research is now showing a connection between high levels of vitamin A and osteoporosis. In fact many Scandinavian countries that regularly supplement with cod liver oil have rampant osteoporosis even though they are getting adequate amounts of oral vitamin D.
WAPF Response: We have thoroughly addressed the problems of osteoporosis in Scandinavian countries in an article published in the Winter 2005 issue of Wise Traditions (Vitamin A on Trial: Does Vitamin A Cause Osteoporosis?). The vitamin A in this study does not come from cod liver oil but from milk and cereals to which vitamin A is added. In the context of a vitamin D-deficient diet, consumption of high levels of synthetic vitamin A was associated with a higher risk of osteoporosis. Although human and animal evidence strongly suggests that vitamin A can only exert harm against the backdrop of vitamin D deficiency, it also suggests that the body’s requirements for vitamin A are even higher than once thought.
Mercola Statement: Dr. John Cannell, head of the Vitamin D Council, along with fifteen other researchers, recently released an article “Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic” in the November issue of Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology. In this paper Dr. Cannell raised questions about the efficacy of cod liver oil due to its highly variable and frequently excessive amount of vitamin A. Typically modern cod liver oil contains far less vitamin D than it used to, due to the deodorization process used today which removes much of this essential nutrient.
WAPF Response: Most of this paper is a review of studies showing the benefits of vitamin D in protecting against various illnesses, including respiratory infection. This paper does not present any information whatsoever indicating that cod liver oil is toxic and, in fact, admits that vitamin A can significantly reduce the incidence of acute lower respiratory tract infections in Third World children.
A portion of the review article is an attempt to explain why a 2004 study providing 600 to 700 IU of vitamin D and 3,500 IU of vitamin A in the form of cod liver oil and a multivitamin failed to meaningfully reduce upper respiratory tract infections when studies from the 1930s found that cod liver oil could reduce the incidence of these infections by 30 to 50 percent. The authors of the recent commentary suggested that the older studies were more effective because cod liver oil in the 1930s contained much more vitamin D. They suggested that modern cod liver oil is low in vitamin D because the deodorization process removes the vitamin while manufacturers fortify the oil with only a fraction of the original amount. As an example, they cited cod liver oil made by Nordic Naturals, advertised as containing only “naturally occurring vitamins A and D,” which has only 3 to 60 IU of vitamin D per tablespoon but between 150 and 12,000 times as much vitamin A.
This conclusion is essentially the same as the conclusion reached by the Weston A. Price Foundation and the research of Chris Masterjohn; we have continually pointed out that vitamins A and D work together and that without vitamin D, vitamin A can be ineffective or even toxic. We do not recommend Nordic Naturals regular cod liver oil or any brand of cod liver oil that is low in vitamin D.
But it is completely inappropriate to conclude from this 2004 study that cod liver oil is toxic because of its vitamin A content. Similar reviews could be put together showing the benefits of vitamin A and cod liver oil in numerous studies—see the sidebar below for a list of recent studies showing a wide range of benefits from cod liver oil. Obviously the solution is to use the type of cod liver oil that people took in the 1930s, which did not have most of the vitamin D removed by modern processing techniques.
During the first half of the century, cod liver oil was the focus of a worldwide health initiative. Parents were urged to give cod liver oil to their children by doctors, by government officials, by teachers and principals in schools, and even by their ministers in churches. A large portion of adults in America born before the Second World War received cod liver oil as children and this practice contributed to a high level of health, intelligence and physical development in those lucky enough to receive it. In Europe in many countries, children received a daily ration of cod liver oil, especially during the war years. In the UK, for example, the government issued cod liver oil to all growing children until the early 1950s. The cod liver oil used during this period was obviously not toxic, but contributed to the good health of a whole generation of people. Surely the answer is to provide the current generation with the benefits of the same kind of cod liver oil.
Mercola Statement: Dr. Cannell and other prominent researchers believe the vitamin A contained in most cod liver oil is excessive, and can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin D by inhibiting the binding of its active form to your DNA, effectively preventing its ability to regulate the expression of your vitamin D-responsive genes.
WAPF Response: According to a comment posted on the Internet, Dr. Veith, the second author of the paper and a prominent vitamin D researcher, does not agree with Cannell’s outright ban of cod liver oil. Dr. Veith is ultimately concerned with the possibility of vitamin A toxicity, but he stated that one teaspoonful per day of cod liver oil is not of concern (onibasu.com/archives/nn/105447.html).
While Mercola states earlier that vitamins A and D are synergistic, he now states that vitamin A antagonizes the actions of vitamin D. The Vitamin D Council report claims that the vitamin A in cod liver oil is excessive and antagonizes vitamin D by inhibiting the binding of its active form to DNA and thus prevents its ability to regulate the expression of vitamin D-responsive genes.
Vitamins A and D are both precursors to active hormones that regulate the expression of genes. The body possesses certain enzymes that convert each of these in a two-step process to their active forms: vitamin A is converted to retinol and then to active retinoic acid while vitamin D is converted to calcidiol and then to active calcitriol. While directly consuming either retinoic acid or calcitriol would be unnatural, consuming vitamins A and D, together, as in cod liver oil, is perfectly natural. The enzymes involved in these conversions are responsible for producing incredibly powerful hormones and are therefore highly regulated.
In order for vitamin D to activate the expression of its target genes, it must bind to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and then combine with the retinoid X receptor (RXR), which is activated by a particular form of vitamin A called 9-cis retinoic acid. Researchers from Spain recently showed that vitamin D can only effectively activate target genes when its partner receptor is activated by vitamin A.
Mercola Statement: The Weston Price Foundation, of which I am an advisory [honorary] member, holds a contradictory view. They believe vitamin D can only effectively target genes when its “partner receptor” is activated by vitamin A. If vitamin A is absent, certain molecules called co-repressors bind to the receptors and prevent vitamin D from functioning. It is their position that cod liver oil is still a highly recommended supplement.
WAPF Response: Dr. Mercola is no longer a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation honorary board. Research does indeed indicate that vitamin D can only effectively target genes when its partner receptor is activated by vitamin A.
Mercola Statement: After reviewing the evidence, I am personally convinced that there is sufficient vitamin A in the current American diet to facilitate sufficient vitamin D activation. This does not appear to be the case in third world countries, where cod liver oil, or some other preformed retinol supplement, would still be useful.
WAPF Response: Please supply us with this evidence. Where does the average American get vitamin A in the modern diet? If vitamin A in the American diet is adequate for vitamin D activation, why are Cannell and Mercola obliged to recommend such high levels of vitamin D—levels much higher than those found in traditional diets—in order to bring serum vitamin D levels into the normal range?
Mercola Statement: MOST COD LIVER OILS HAVE EXCESSIVE VITAMIN A (PREFORMED RETINOL)
However, even the Weston Price Foundation acknowledges that there are dangerous versions of cod liver oil out there, even from some highly reputable companies like Nordic Naturals, which produces a cod liver oil that is clearly excessive in vitamin A as it only has 3 to 60 units of vitamin D per tablespoon but between 150 and 12,000 times as much vitamin A. It’s a delicate balance.
Both vitamins are essential to obtain optimal health benefits, however, the ratios can become dangerously unbalanced—much like the omega- 3/omega-6 balance, which has become inversed in our modern diet.
Nearly all brands of cod liver oil provide a token amount of vitamin D, typically a mere 400 to 1,200 IU of vitamin D per tablespoon but anywhere between 4,000 to 30,000 IU of vitamin A. This is clearly inappropriate. About the lowest ratio I have seen is ten times as much vitamin A as vitamin D but, as I stated above, it can be as high as 12,000 times as much vitamin A.
First of all, this is clearly an insufficient amount of vitamin D for even the smallest child. This is in part due to the government recommendations, which are FAR too low to offer any health benefits; the recommended daily dosage being no more than 200 to 600 IU, depending on age. Meanwhile, researchers have since established that the therapeutic dosage is anywhere between 2,000 to 10,000 IU per day, depending on your weight and other factors, such as skin color and level of regular sun exposure. (Some people may require, and can safely take, as much as 20,000 IU daily.)
WAPF Response: A dose of 1000 IU vitamin D daily is adequate to avoid problems with vitamin A in adults. If the ratio of A to D in cod liver oil is 10 to 1, then it is easy to obtain a safe amount of vitamin A along with an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Mercola Statement: Consuming such high amounts of vitamin A as contained in cod liver oil and most multi-vitamins, while not getting nearly enough vitamin D, combined with the fact that most people are deficient in vitamin D to begin with, could potentially cause vitamin A to become toxic.
WAPF Response: We agree with this statement and have consistently warned people not to use multivitamins and not to take brands of cod liver oil that are low in vitamin D.
Mercola Statement: The concern Dr. Cannell and the other researchers have is that vitamin A in cod liver oil is excessive and actually antagonizes vitamin D by inhibiting the binding of its active form to DNA and thus preventing its ability to regulate the expression of vitamin D-responsive genes.
WAPF Response: As stated earlier, vitamin A can be toxic when vitamin D is absent. Vitamin A does not antagonize vitamin D—both are needed for optimal assimilation. It would be amazing if vitamins A and D were antagonistic since they are so often found in the same foods.
Mercola Statement: The Weston Price Foundation’s strong belief is that vitamin A is not at all toxic but is necessary for optimal vitamin D function. However they believe there is sufficient vitamin A in the diet of most Americans, especially if they are taking a multivitamin.
WAPF Response: If Dr. Mercola is so familiar with all the information on cod liver oil on our website, how can he make this fundamental misrepresentation of Dr. Price’s research? Our primary message is that vitamin A levels are far too low in the modern American diet compared to primitive diets. Indigenous peoples consumed very high levels of vitamin A from organ meats, insects, fish eggs, fish heads, liver and fish liver oils, as well as from butterfat and egg yolks from grassfed animals. Since most of our animals are raised in confinement today, and many of the vitamin A-rich foods are unacceptable to modern palates, we recommend taking cod liver oil on a daily basis. We have never recommended taking a multivitamin. Likewise, we have never stated that vitamin A is “not at all” toxic.
Mercola Statement: In the third world this is not the case and they would likely benefit from vitamin A supplementation.
WAPF Response: Why would the average Westerner have more sources of vitamin A in the diet than people in the Third World? At least in the latter, people who are not literally starving are more likely to eat organ meats, fish heads, insects and other sources of vitamin A. But it is certainly true that children in the Third World have greatly benefited from vitamin A supplementation. Why would children in the West be any different?
Mercola Statement: The Weston Price Foundation does not agree with Dr. Cannell’s conclusion that cod liver oil itself may cause vitamin A toxicity, however they also do not recommend taking any cod liver oil that is low in vitamin D. Yet even their recommendations, in my opinion have far too low amounts of vitamin D to be clinically useful. But more importantly it appears that the high amounts of vitamin A may limit the effectiveness of vitamin D even if more is taken in addition to that received in the cod liver oil.
WAPF Response: As shown in the sidebar below, “A Preliminary Look at the Effects of Cod Liver Oil on Vitamin D Levels,” we are seeing good serum D levels in people taking balanced cod liver oil without supplemental vitamin D; Cannell and Mercola are recommending very high levels of vitamin D supplementation to get the same results. We have a genuine concern that such high levels without supporting vitamin A could suppress the immune system and be toxic in other ways. Too much vitamin D can result in calcification of the kidneys, arteries, joints and other soft tissues.
Mercola Statement: Although it’s still unclear exactly what the balance should be, Dr. Cannell and most of the prominent expert researchers in this area believe that the ratios of these two essential nutrients likely should be reversed from those typically seen in cod liver oil, as you need far greater amounts of vitamin D as opposed to vitamin A.
WAPF Response: Reference please?? If Cannell is unclear what the balance should be, why is he recommending a ratio that is impossible to achieve in traditional diets? It may be possible in primitive diets to obtain an A-to-D ratio of approximately 1:1 from food, but certainly not 1:10. This can only be done with modern supplements.
Mercola Statement: After carefully reviewing the arguments on both sides of the issue I am convinced that Dr. Cannell’s approach is far more likely to be consistent with producing high levels of health and decreased illness.
WAPF Response: What’s needed is a study comparing the health status of individuals taking a balanced cod liver oil and those taking large amounts of vitamin D without cod liver oil, as recommended by Cannell and Mercola. Meanwhile, it would be wise to err on the side of traditional diets, which generally contained higher levels of A than D in terms of International Units.
Mercola Statement: MY REVISED COD LIVER OIL RECOMMENDATIONS
As the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency (which would benefit from cod liver oil) in the U. S. is much lower than the prevalence of subclinical vitamin A toxicity, while most everyone suffers from vitamin D deficiency, I no longer recommend taking cod liver oil for either adults or children. You’re likely getting the vitamin A you need if you regularly consume fresh vegetables high in this nutrient, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, and other colorful fruits and vegetables, and butter especially, if obtained from grass-fed cows.
WAPF Response: Here Dr. Mercola repeats the myth that we can obtain adequate vitamin A from plant foods. We have thoroughly explored this topic and shown that plant foods are a very poor source of vitamin A for humans, especially for babies and children, diabetics, and those suffering from thyroid and digestive disorders. (See Vitamin A Saga.)
Mercola Statement: Although you can obtain vitamin D from your diet, it is very difficult, and I believe it is very unnatural. It is my strong belief that we were designed to obtain virtually all of our vitamin D from exposing appropriate areas of our skin to sunshine. If this is not possible, the next best choice would be exposure to UVB rays from safe tanning beds, and if that is not possible then one should resort to a high quality vitamin D3 supplement.
WAPF Response: Why is it unnatural to get vitamin D from the diet? Is it more unnatural than taking vitamin D pills? What did our ancestors do during the winter months? Mercola was not there to sell them vitamin D pills or tanning beds. Even in the tropics, traditional peoples obtained high amounts of vitamin D from their food.
Mercola Statement: As it stands, it is my strong belief that you’re simply not getting the appropriate balance of vitamin A to vitamin D from cod liver oil, which is why I believe it is best to avoid it.
WAPF Response: With the right brands of cod liver oil, it is indeed possible to get the right balance of A and D and a myriad of well documented health benefits.
Mercola Statement: Please note that this new recommendation does NOT apply to either fish oil or krill oil, as neither of them contain the vitamins A or D, but rather are excellent sources of essential omega-3 fats. EVERYONE still needs a regular high quality source of these absolutely essential and vital nutrients.
WAPF Response: Dr. Mercola sells krill oil. Is this why he recommends it? The omega-3 fatty acids in krill oil are likely to be highly damaged from heat treatment during industrial processing. (See our description of krill oil manufacture in David Wetzel’s article, “Update on Cod Liver Oil Manufacture.”) In addition, there is a danger from over-dosing on omega-3 fatty acids, which can depress the immune system and potentially lead to cancer. By taking a high-vitamin cod liver oil, you can obtain adequate vitamins A and D without overdosing on omega-3 fatty acids.
Mercola Statement: Another potential point of confusion is that beta carotene is not a concern, as that is PRE vitamin A. Your body will simply not over convert beta carotene to excessive levels of vitamin A. So taking beta carotene supplements is not going to interfere with vitamin D.
WAPF Response: Several studies have shown that taking betacarotene supplements result in higher mortality. The body cannot convert beta-carotenes into adequate levels of vitamin A. To achieve optimum health, we need liberal amounts of preformed vitamin A from foods like liver, seafood, butter, egg yolks and cod liver oil, along with vitamin D from the same types of foods, not from vitamin D pills.
A Preliminary Look at the Effects of Cod Liver Oil (CLO) on Vitamin D Levels
Nineteen volunteers had their vitamin D levels tested using the home blood test from ZRT Laboratories and reported their vitamin D levels, cod liver oil usage and vitamin D supplementation to the Weston A. Price Foundation. The results are shown below. All volunteers are from northern latitudes and none reported recent sun exposure.
|Vit D Level||A/D from CLO||CLO Type||Vit D Supplement||Duration (Months)|
|34||857/107||Carlsons 1000mg capsules||2,000 IU||3|
|37||10,000/1,000||High-Vitamin||50,000 IU x 2, before onset of a cold||15|
|44||10,000/1,000||High-Vitamin||50,000 IU x 3 before onset of a cold||15|
While these results are merely preliminary, a tentative conclusion is that consumption of cod liver oil containing vitamin A does not interfere with the assimilation of vitamin D. Of the twelve individuals who had vitamin D levels of 40 or above, eight took cod liver oil alone, with no supplemental vitamin D. More carefully controlled studies are needed to provide definitive confirmation of this hypothesis.
Recent Studies on Cod Liver Oil
Numerous recent studies have shown wide ranging benefits from cod liver oil, as indicated by these summaries from articles published between 2000 and 2009.
PAIN IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: Cod liver oil supplements were better than controls in relieving pain and can be used as NSAID-sparing agents in rheumatoic arthritis patients (Rheumatology (Oxford). 2008 May;47(5):665-9).
VITAMIN D STATUS AND BONE LOSS: Inclusion of cod liver oil in the diet appears to attenuate the seasonal variation of vitamin D status in early postmenopausal women at northerly latitudes where quality of sunlight for production of vitamin D is diminished. Cod liver oil can thus protect against greater bone turnover, bone loss and obesity (Bone. 2008 May;42(5):996-1003).
DIABETES-RELATED CARDIOVASCULAR DISORDERS: Cod liver oil treatment in diabetic rats completely prevented endothelial deficiency and partly corrected several biochemical markers for cardiovascular disorders (J Pharm Pharmacol. 2007 Dec;59(12):1629-41).
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: In Arctic climates, supplemental cod-liver oil during childhood may be protective against multiple sclerosis later in life (J Neurol. 2007 Apr;254(4):471-7).
BREAST CANCER: Reduced breast cancer risks were associated with increasing sun exposure and cod liver oil use from ages ten to nineteen. “We found strong evidence to support the hypothesis that vitamin D could help prevent breast cancer. However, our results suggest that exposure earlier in life, particularly during breast development, maybe most relevant” (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2007 Mar;16(3):422-9).
DEPRESSION: Regular use of cod liver oil is negatively associated with high levels of depressive symptoms in the general population (J Affect Disord. 2007 Aug;101(1-3):245-9).
WOUND HEALING: The combination of zinc oxide and cod liver oil was found to be superior to the formulations containing only one active ingredient. This combination was also found to be most efficient in accelerating wound healing when it is retarded by repeated dexamethasone treatment (Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 2006 Sep;113(9):331-4).
BREAST MILK: Women using cod liver oil had a significantly higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in their breast milk. “As this may have an impact on the health and development of breast-fed infants in later life, regular maternal cod liver oil intake could be relevant for the infant as well as for the nutritional adequacy of the maternal diet” (Ann Nutr Metab. 2006;50(3):270-6).
PAIN AND JOINT STIFFNESS: Cod liver oil application allows reduction of the dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and improves chief clinical symptoms, reducing pain and morning joint stiffness (Klin Med Mosk 2005;83(10):51-7).
HIP FRACTURE: Multivitamin or cod liver oil supplementation was associated with a significantly lower risk of any fracture. “We found no evidence to support any skeletal harm associated with increased serum indices of retinol exposure or modest retinol supplementation in this population” (J Bone Miner Res. 2005 Jun;20(6):913-20).
HIGHER BIRTH WEIGHT: Women who used liquid cod liver oil in early pregnancy gave birth to heavier babies, even after adjusting for the length of gestation and other confounding factors. “Higher birth weight has been associated with a lower risk of diseases later in life and maternal cod liver oil intake might be one of the means for achieving higher birthweight” (BJOG. 2005 Apr;112(4):424-9).
UPPER RESPIRATORY TRACT INFECTIONS IN CHILDREN: Children supplemented with cod liver oil had a decrease in upper respiratory tract infections and pediatric visits over time (Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2004 Nov;113(11):891-901).
VITAMIN D STATUS: In Norway, three mølje meals (consisting of cod liver and fresh cod-liver oil) provided an amount of vitamin D equal to 54 times the recommended daily dose. Subjects with food consumption habits that included frequent mølje meals during the winter sustained satisfactory vitamin D levels in their blood, in spite of the long “vitamin D winter” (Public Health Nutr. 2004 Sep;7(6):783-9).
DIABETES: Use of cod liver oil in the first year of life was associated with a significantly lower risk of type 1 diabetes. Use of other vitamin D supplements during the first year of life and maternal use of cod liver oil or other vitamin D supplements during pregnancy were not associated with lower risk of type 1 diabete (Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Dec;78(6):1128-34).
INTELLIGENCE IN CHILDREN: Children who were born to mothers who had taken cod liver oil during pregnancy and lactation scored higher on intelligence tests at age four compared with children whose mothers had taken corn oil (Pediatrics. 2003 Jan;111(1):e39-44).
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS: Use of cod liver oil decreased occurrence of morning stiffness, swollen joints and pain intensity in patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (Adv Ther. 2002 Mar-Apr;19(2):101-7).
EAR ACHES IN CHILDREN: Children prone to ear aches (otitis media) receiving cod liver oil plus selenium needed lower amounts of antibiotics during supplementation compared to before supplementation (Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2002 Jul;111(7 Pt 1):642-52).
DIABETIC NEUROPATHY: Use of cod liver oil in mice played an important role in the prevention of diabetic nephropathy (Lipids. 2002 Apr;37(4):359-66).
FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS IN BREAST MILK: Maternal use of cod liver oil resulted in higher levels of fat-soluble vitamins in breast milk, especially vitamins E and A. (Ann Nutr Metab. 2001;45(6):265-72).
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Spring 2009.🖨️ Print post
Roean Stuart says
What is the best Codliver oil to take
Hello Dr. Fallon, I take Carlson’s Norwegian Cod Liver Oil. I wanted to know what is the best kind of cod liver oil to take! I do 1tbl spoon per day. Is the Blue Ice Cod Liver Oil better?
I was reading your rebuttal to Mercola’s decision to ban CLO and you seem to mention a lot about vitamin D not being in the diet despite the fact very few food sources contain sufficient amount of it when we get tens of thousands of units just being outside in the sun as our ancestors have done for many thousands of years yet you feel that taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D is during the winter is too much. I’ve looked into it and I can’t ignore all those evidence by many people saying it helped keep them healthy through the winter. Since you were not very clear on the specific number of how much vitamin D or blood level we should have, you should write about that… In a way, I agree with Dr. Cannell. USA Government’s recommendation of 400 IU of vitamin D a day is extremely low during the winter. i’ve seen the way you wrote about it and you made it seem like it’s a lot worse…
VITAMIN D STATUS: In Norway, three mølje meals (consisting of cod liver and fresh cod-liver oil) provided an amount of vitamin D equal to 54 times the recommended daily dose. Subjects with food consumption habits that included frequent mølje meals during the winter sustained satisfactory vitamin D levels in their blood, in spite of the long “vitamin D winter” (Public Health Nutr. 2004 Sep;7(6):783-9).
Is it 200 or 400 IU for recommended vitamin D intake? That’s either 10,000 or 20,000 IU a day. No big deal. Any people with a lot of knowledge on vitamin D can see that you’re trying to distort truth on vitamin D. That’s actually the amount our skin produces during mid day in the summer when sun bathing for 20-30 minutes.
I think it’s time for you to really look into Vitamin D entirely. I used to think vitamin A was important but it never kept us healthy at all. I put more emphasis on vitamin D this year and I can tell you that it does seem to be working to prevent cold and flu. Keep in mind, we had been taking cod liver for years and keeping up with latest information on WAP website. Not only that, I had been reading about nutrition and immunology for a long time. The fact you’re trying to dismiss Vitamin D is disturbing…
Thomas Dean Nordlum says
what about just plain cod liver in its own oil?
For the past month, I have been taking cod liver as well as its oil. Nobody ever talks about eating the actual liver. Here in Montréal, there is a brand, Tousain, that sells Cod Liver in its own oil, in a can, imported from Iceland. I take a spoonful of liver, along with the oil it is drenched in, in the morning during the winter (while plugging my nose, because i don’t like the taste at all).
So my question is, how do you feel about eating the liver, since that too will give you the oil?
Tim Boyd says
Reply from Sally: Yes, eating canned cod liver is a very good way to get vitamins A and D, plus DHA. Not everyone is as brave as you are, however, and find taking the plain cod liver oil easier to do.
Sally Fallon Morell says
Reply to Dr. Stein
Dear Dr. Stein, we are aware of the prejudice against cod liver oil by the medical establishment. Please read our article Vitamin A for Fetal Development http://www.westonaprice.org/Vi…ment.html. We provide amounts on our main cod liver oil page. Basically it is 2 teaspoons of high vitamin cod liver oil per day and 4 teaspoons of regular cod liver oil per day in the context of a nutrient-dense diet that contains plenty of saturated fat from butter, ghee, etc. Be sure that the cod liver oil has the right balance (no more than 10 units vitamin A for 1 unit vitamin D). Other good sources of vitamin D are grass-fed lard, butter and egg yolks, oily fish and fish eggs. We have a Reprint on Healthy Babies and it would be a good idea to order this and let your daughter read it.
Dr Nathan Stein says
the bookpractical parenting, Hamlyn press, which has a foreword by Dame K Davis, Royal colege of Midwives, 2005, explicitly states p 43,to AVOID Fish oil supplements,as ‘contains too much Retinol’, and p 41, states high level retinol, a form of vit A, considered harmful to unborn babies. their expert contributors include a midwife an obs and gobs Dr, Various other experts, and one expert in maternal nutrition, Gail Rees, Sen Research fellow at London Metropolitan Uni. One website mentions fetal abnotrmalities from Retinol intake, but not from carotenoids.
Yet you state even amounts of 20,000iu retino from Cod liver oil per day are safe for pregnant women, and you don’t clearly state how much vit A is in each of the cod liver oil preparations you recommend. We use St Clements, by Healthspan.
Can you please enlighten us, how much cod liver oil she should take, as the book has spooked my wife, and our daughter is pregnant, and eats few vegetables, and takes hardly any sun. She was vegetarian up til 1 year ago.
D Rogers says
Carlson Cod Liver Oil
My husband and I have begun taking CCLO, because of depression issues my husband has been taking 10 teaspoons/day with his daily multivit that would be 11500.00 IU of Vit A and 5000IU of vit D. without adverse effects. Would you agree with this dosage for depression?
David N says
Louis- I don’t see any evidence that WAPF is trying to ‘dismiss’ Vitamin D as you have stated. They have pointed out over and over again that vitamin A & D work synergistically, emphasizing how important it is that both vitamins A&D are taken together in the correct ratio.
Vit A and D
From my own personal observations, I’ve found I feel better taking cod liver than I do taking vitamin D alone. I live in Canada so it’s important that I get vitamin D somehow in the long winters here. I’ve experimented taking 5000iu of vitamin D by itself for some time, and I generally felt a better mood, less anxiety, and more energy etc. However, I’ve also tried taking cod liver oil at two tablespoons per day and must say I felt better taking that than just vitamin D by itself. For one, vit D is a fat-soluble vitamin and so having it in a fat source makes it work better. This brings to mind the inuit in the north who get all their vitamin D from the organs and fat of seals, whales and fish etc. Those that eat this traditional diet are very healthy and do not suffer from diabetes, heart disease, or cancer and the list goes on. Now If i were to get my sustenance this way, I would no doubt be getting PLENTY of vitamin A. For example, If I ate the liver of any mammal I would get 10,000iu of Vitamin A easily and upwards to 30,000iu. I think a study should be done that compares the effects of using vitamin A and D in synthetic form VS. cod liver oil… in the same ratios. This way we could determine if the real issue is the way we recieve these nutrients that determines the outcome. It just seems more natural to get our nutrients from animals and plants as opposed to taking supplements, doing a test on these isolated vitamins, and then putting a bad name on certain vitamins because the supplement form caused harm. Let nature do it’s work!
Please respond to this query
I’ve just been reading through Mercola’s new recommendations against CLO and the WPF’s rebuttal statement. I am now thoroughly confused (as many might be when they hear 2 reputable experts having totally contradictory positions.
My question is and has been for some time: If I take one of the (non-Blue Ice) brands of CLO (Nordic naturals to be precise) which does have a stupidly low level of D after filtration BUT then I also take a vitamin D supplement with my NN CLO as well (1 TSP CLO and 4000IU supplemental D3) will that balance out the “toxic ratio” of A to D in my NN CLO?
I personally have to take a D3 supplement in the winter as we get no UV exposure here at this latitude during this time and my blood D levels are dangerously low. So I have been previously not worrying about the “recommended brands” from the WPF of CLO because I am not using CLO as my own source of D. Does this make sense? I use NN because I like their safety record as far as being pure of pollutants, plus I have a professional account with them and get many discounts and free bottles of CLO so it is financially a good thing for us to use their product.
But now since my head is spinning from reading everything this morning on Mercola/WPF’s statements, I wonder if what I am doing is OK? Taking NN CLO just for the fish oil benefits of the EPA/DHA and taking a separate D3 supplement for the D.
Don’t you think you should consult a medical professional who can check your levels and take professional responsibility for the advice they give you rather than asking for what amounts to medical advice in the comments section of an article on a website?
Marketing and propeganda!
“WAPF Response: Dr. Mercola sells krill oil. Is this why he recommends it?”
“If vitamin A in the American diet is adequate for vitamin D activation, why are Cannell and Mercola obliged to recommend such high levels of vitamin D—levels much higher than those found in traditional diets—in order to bring serum vitamin D levels into the normal range?”
I received an email today – marketing “Dr. Cannell’s Advanced D Formula”.
Dr. Cannell sells Vitamin D3. Is this why he recommends it?
“…Cannell and Mercola are recommending very high levels of vitamin D supplementation…”
I would assume as much – my assumption is that he’s hoping for people to read this and google Vitamin D. In conjunction with his name, BAM! there’s a product that HE makes!
Just one more:
(Mercola) “one should resort to a high quality vitamin D3 supplement.”
AMAZING! (Heavy sarcasm.) Here’s part the product description for Dr. Cannell’s product:
“The Vitamin D3 Revolution
Vitamin D’s influence on key biological functions vital to one’s health and well-being mandates that vitamin D3 supplementation can no longer be ignored by individuals striving to achieve and maintain a greater state of health.* Formulated by John Cannell MD, Purity’s new Vitamin D3 Complex is a synergistic blend of Vitamin D3 with several targeted nutrients which complement many of the Vitmain D3’s desirable health benefits.*”
Unfortunately, I am now skeptical of Dr. Cannell’s entire credibility because of the coincidences found between Mercola’s article, full of statements backed by Dr. Cannell’s conclusions or ‘research’, and Dr. Cannell’s new product. I am in no way trying to voice an opinion on vitamin A & D or any supplements, food, etc. I honestly do not have enough knowledge or experience to even discuss the matter.
However, I do know that health is about balance. Balance is not about over-emphasizing to sell a product. (No reference, only my opinion!) It’s really sad – greed seems to seep in eventually in most people. It looks like this ‘doctor’ is either 1. trying to convince everyone that vitamin D supplements are essential, or 2. he has taken off down the path of unbalanced and illogical thoughts and conclusions (to sell his product? Or because he wants so badly to convince himself that this is the truth?) to be a credible source of information anymore for myself.
im looking into getting fermented fish oil and high vitamin butter oil. i saw that fermented skate liver oil has all of the nutrieents in fclo plus valuable nutrients found in shark oil such as squalene and alkoxyglycerols. but i have 2 questions.
1. is blue ice the best brand for fermented fish oil?
2. does fermented skate liver oil have the same synergistic benefits with butter oil as FCLO? because this is one of the main reasons for me buying these supplements.
I used to think vitamin A was important but it never kept us healthy at all.
An important point with vitamins A, C, D and cholesterol is that there is a maintenance level and there is an anti-infective level.
With vitamin A only a few thousand IU equivalents may be needed for maintenance but up to 500,000 IU/day or MORE equivalents can be BURNED by a 150 pound adult when your body is fighting a pernicious systemic infection.
Now if you take 500,000 IU without an infection to burn it all off you will probably suffer a toxicity.
I like to eat pounds and pounds of cooked carrots, especially in the winter, to supply my liver with lots of carotene so that it can produce vitamin A in whatever form is required.
Thus it is with cod liver oil. All that vitamin A is a VERY GOOD thing when you are sick.
I say you need BOTH vitamin D3 AND cod liver oil.
Pounds of carrots will never have true vitamin A, they can only have previtamin A, beta carotenes. Only animal sourced foods can have real vitamin A. Full fat milk (the fat carries it, low fat and nonfat milk are not going to have much vitamin A), liver, egg yolks. I know it is common practice to say vegetables have vitamin A, and I have not found out why it’s legal to use the term for vegetables but it isn’t correct. Carotenes have to be cooked or we humans simply don’t absorb them well, and they also have to be eaten with a fat, like butter, also to be absorbed and converted in our gut to real vitamin A. If we have any issues with digestion, or surgeries, or GERD or any sort of problem with the digestive tract, we simply aren’t going to be very good at making the conversion. Even healthy folks with good guts aren’t too efficient at the conversion.
bonnie garcia says
cod liver oil is it good for hormonal imbalance?
can you use vitam a and cod oil for hormane imbalanc
bonnie garcia says
can you use cod liver oil and vitiam a for menapuase?
Safe Levels? Please respond.
I am taking 2 tablets of Xtendlife’s Total Balance Unisex (enteric coated multivitamin) and 2 soft-gel Xtendlife’s Omega 3/DHA Fish Oil. I’m 15 years old, and wondering how much Cod Liver Oil could I take safely? To be honest, I don’t get out often. (Planning on taking Carlson Labs Norwegian Cod Liver Oil)
Funny how some doctors seem to ‘sell out’ and just push their own product brands. I guess Dr Mercola is no different.
I read somewhere (on a Paleo diet site) that they don’t recommend cod liver or fish oil because the Omega3 and Omega6 refined into an pre-packaged consumables easily become rancid and thereby increase oxidative stress on the body. In other words, the healthiest way to get these beneficial fats is through consumption of whole fish. What say you?
What do you mean?
You say “Basically, adults need about 1000 IU vitamin D daily to avoid vitamin A toxicity. This can be supplied by a dose of a recommended brand of cod liver oil that provides 10,000 IU vitamin A”
This confuses me. How does an oil that has 10K IU of vitamin A supply 1000 IU of vitamin D? Do you mean that the recommended brands all have at least 1000 IU of vitamin D? Then why bring up the vitamin A element. Maybe you mean to say that the recommended oild have the minimum vitamin D in teh proper ratio to A?
Or what do you mean?
I’m surprised to see
I am surprised that there wasn’t more in this article on Cod liver oil from Dr. Mercola. Usually, when he backs of a position, it is usually to provide an alternative product that he has just begun to sell, such as Krill Oil.
Regarding vitamin D
My thoughts while reading this were also:
You seemed to make it appear that the reason for the vitamin D deficiency is NOT the low intake but that it doesn’t work in our body because of low vitamin A. This becomes obvious when you mention mercolas “high” dose of 5000 IU daily.
This is obviously not true because the main source for vitamin D is NOT in food but comes through having sun exposure.
Our bodies can easily produce 10000 IU daily with sun exposure. Food doesn’t contain a lot of Vitamin D, even if e.g. cows a long time ago maybe had more Vitamin D in their meat (because they also had sun exposure) this is nowhere near the 10000 IU.
The biggest difference between now and our ancestors is we work 8 hours a day in darkened rooms in front of computers. Midday sun is the only thing that really stimulates Vitamin D production, yet everyone has no time for it or avoids it, has clothes on so only 5% of the skin is exposed.
Its obvious we are nowadays getting FAR less vitamin D through sun then our ancestors did. So supplementing 5000 IU is NOT a big deal, its only half of what you would naturally produce.
The reason for vitamin D deficiency is obviously NOT the lack of vitamin A so you can absorb more D in the diet. Because the normal diet contains nowhere near as much vit D to what humans not born in the last 1000 years were getting through the sun.
So obviously we have ~ 10000 IU less nowadays. If you’re saying the reason for low Vitamin D is lack of Vitamin A, how much Vitamin D would our ancestors with adequate Vitamin A and 10000+ IU vit D daily then have converted?!
Clearly we should try to emulate the way it was back then if someone believes in paleo principles. Thats only happening with vit D supplement as long as you have a normal job. And the reason for low vitamin D is a far smaller leap of faith to accept that our vitamin D intake nowadays is very low compared to our past then thinking we get enough vitamin D (even though we get only 10% we used to get because of the sun) if we just supplement the measly vitamin D number with vitamin A. Makes far less sense.
Jonathan S. says
Responses to Chuck, Levi, Hunter, jj
Cod liver oil in general has large amounts of both vitamins A and D. With refined CLO, the ratio of vitamin A to vitamin D is almost universally 10:1 by International Units – high-vitamin CLO typically has a lower ratio, around 2:1 or 4:1. So an amount of just about any CLO providing 10,000 IU of A will also provide at least 1,000 IU of D.
That’s completely true for fish oil but less true for fish liver oil – the vitamins in the liver oil protect the PUFAs from oxidation. Eating whole fish is great, but the main reason for taking fish liver oil is for the vitamins, not as much for the PUFAs.
I would drop the fish oil supplement (not sure about the multivitamin) and take 1-2 teaspoons of that CLO daily. That would provide just about all the omega-3 that you would need, fully replacing the fish oil.
1. I’m not sure if there is even one other fermented fish liver oil on the market.
2. If I’m not mistaken, the synergy is mostly from the vitamin and SFA content, and FSLO’s vitamin content isn’t much different from FCLO’s, so the synergy should still be there. Don’t take my word on it though.
Alvar van Rijn says
Dissing the D?
“Our bodies can easily produce 10000 IU daily with sun exposure.”
Which many people did not do because of their location and the fact they were being wrapped in fur. So how did they live?
Food doesn’t contain a lot of Vitamin D, even if e.g. cows a long time ago maybe had more Vitamin D in their meat (because they also had sun exposure) this is nowhere near the 10000 IU”
Between daily(HV)CLO, egg(yolk)s, butter, the occasional Liver and whatnot you can absolutely get 10000 IU Vit.D from your diet.
Check the table in the article, there are people getting 2000 IU vit.D from a measly two teaspoons…
“If you’re saying the reason for low Vitamin D is lack of Vitamin A,…”
They’re not. They’re not even saying the lack of efficacy of Vit.D is because of a lack of Vit.A.
What they are saying is that (very)high amounts of Vit.A are not a problem as long as you get at least 1000 IU of Vit.D a day.
“Clearly we should try to emulate the way it was back then if someone believes in paleo principles. Thats only happening with vit D supplement as long as you have a normal job. And the reason for low vitamin D is a far smaller leap of faith to accept that our vitamin D intake nowadays is very low compared to our past then thinking we get enough vitamin D (even though we get only 10% we used to get because of the sun) if we just supplement the measly vitamin D number with vitamin A. Makes far less sense. ”
I’m sorry, I’m having trouble following your writing here.
” In order for vitamin D to activate the expression of its target genes, it must bind to the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and then combine with the retinoid X receptor (RXR), which is activated by a particular form of vitamin A called 9-cis retinoic acid. Researchers from Spain recently showed that vitamin D can only effectively activate target genes when its partner receptor is activated by vitamin A. ”
So in order to reap the benefits from Vit.D you need sufficient Vit.A, not beta caroteen, in your diet.
WAPF position on cod liver oil?
I just read an article by Chris Masterjohn (http://www.cholesterol-and-hea…eport.html) and Ray Peat (http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fishoil.shtml) on the dangers of fish oil and am confused. I thought that cod liver oil was good for you – am i misreading the articles? Do you still recommend taking cod liver oil on a regular basis?
Susan Fung says
I’m a new member and I have not read this entire site. I am a bit confused. Am I supposed to drop my multivitamin?. I have osteopenia and therefore am concerned about vitamin A. Not sure if any members here know about this neurologist who discovered D is critical for sleep and pain relief (more on her site drgominak.com)
If you’re taking the multivitamin just for vitamin A (and/or D) then yes, definitely drop it and take cod liver oil instead. Chances are the vitamin A from cod liver oil will work better because a) it’s preformed b) as a liquid, it’s sure to have a high absorption ratio, unlike tablets or pills and c) it comes with some fat to allow absorption.
Cod liver oil is a different case from fish oil because although the fatty acid profile is similar, CLO has vitamins which protect the lipids from peroxidation. So CLO is totally fine, even though fish oil is not.
A few years ago, I got dry nose and lips after about 3 weeks of taking cod liver oil at 1 tablespoon a day. I knew I needed to lighten up, or relent on my vitamin A capsules for a bit, because I was encroaching on what I remember from being on Accutane. The first sign of too much vitamin A is dry mucosal membranes. That may have been before I started using vitamin D, as at the time, CLO was my only source of D. Now I take 1000-2000 units a day of D and have been doing so for several months. This winter (I take CLO in the winter time, flu season) I’ll see if my D supplementation will help avoid those tell tale symptoms. The A to D ratio in mine is 20 to 1.
Vitamin A Toxicity experience
As someone who suffered from Vitamin A toxicity from CLO for 9 months before discovering the cause, I’m appalled by the spread of misinformation like 1000 IU Vitamin D per day being protective of Vitamin A toxicity. My Vitamin D intake has been 5000IU for years, and while taking CLO, I adjusted the dosage according to the Vitamin D content of the CLO to ensure my Vitamin D levels stayed in the desired range. My Vitamin A intake was probably below 15000 IU daily.
Am I taking too much
I have been taking Mercola’s Krill Oil for women for awhile now (3 a day) and just recently started taking Green Pastures Butter Oil and Fermented Cod Liver oil blend (1/2 tsp daily). I am pregnant and thought I was doing the right thing after scanning these threads I am now questioning whether I should stop taking the krill oil and increase the Green Pastures blend. I don’t want to be over dosing, any advice?
I wouldn’t take anything that Mercola sells. I used to subscribe to his newsletter and as time went on I began to notice that Mercola is a sell out and only interested in the money…So I unsubscribed to his website newsletter. All his products are so damn overpriced and he uses ingredients like magnesium stearate and other additives that you expect at low quality and lower priced supplements. His caps are gelatin also they are the cheapest to make.
That’s why I say he is a rip off and a phony. There are plenty of better supplements at lower prices. Why made this idiot rich while your health suffers.
Katy Kyst says
Are you/this site being censored by Google or the government????? The Google search says this site may harm my computer. I’ve never had trouble with this site, which I discovered 8 yrs ago, trying to find out why I felt better on Atkins diet, to an EXTREME difference. All I could figure out was minerals, and fats had improved. After 8 yrs research of nutritional data, I still come up with the same. Add to that physical instinct, and I find my food is simply not giving me what I need. Add to that, a long case of e. Hisotlytica, and absorbsion is tough. But CENSORING any health information????? Come on!, as my grandson says. You need to look over your site, and COMPLAIN, or allow paper newsletters while paper is still legal.
Jimmy Scott, Ph.D. says
Founder Health Kinesiology
I did not notice any reference above to the differences in natural and synthetic. Synthetic Vitamin A is highly toxic; Natural Vitamin A is low toxicity. ALWAYS various nutrients must be consumed in a balanced manner. A few years ago the EU mandated that all CLO sold in the EU must be processed (as opposed to standard quality of end product) in a specific way. This included adding synthetic A and D to the oil! Most CLO sold in North America comes from European manufacturers, and unless they are large enough to have two production lines they send the European style oil. My bioenergy testing indicates that the Nordic CLO is one of the best. Simply take extra Vitamin D! The C brand mentioned is very poor in my testing. I always suggest a variety of natural oil sources from nuts, seeds, and organic animal and fish sources. Too much of one oil may require another oil to maintain that important balance. I routinely suggest (based on individual bioenergetic testing) around 2000 IU / day for Vitamin D.
By the way, Vitamin D is important for getting soluble Calcium (as lactate or citrate) into the blood. The fatty acids are required to take the calcium out of the blood into the tissue.
what is a good brand?
it is so very confusing trying to figure out which or what to buy. I know we are all different (as to what we each need) but sure wish someone would make a list of good vitamins an suppliments by name so that we wont take the wrong thing. We all know that there are some really bad suppliments out there on the market. I live in an area where they dont have a clue what organic is, and its not feasable to drive to get things because its so far. Anyone know where a person could get this kind of info?
I have been following Weston Price and taking the very expensive fermented cod liver oil for well over a year now. My vitamin D levels are pitiful (40). I also eat liver, grass fed beef, butter, caviar, salmon, seafood, etc. My doctor now has me on 5,000 IU of bio-available vitamin D, after suffering renal exhaustion, Vitamin C and Super B complex. I feel so much better.
I am really upset that I took this during pregnancy and didn’t supplement more vitamin D for my baby and for me. I don’t think it is bad to take, I think it is good, but I CAN’T BELIEVE I am paying $60 a month just to have low vitamin D levels.
I’m also glad I didn’t listen about the vaccines – as babies are dying here of whooping cough.
jennifer that is why they call it
SUPPLEMENT….because you add to your normal diet. Perhaps you should look at your diet for you and your baby and take responsibility. Just because you lack brains and are ignorant doesn’t let you off the hook for eating a decent diet especially if you are pregnant and or are breast feeding. I am seriously concerned for your baby as it sounds as though you may be abusing the child thru neglect and ignorance.
Also jennifer make sure you personally get every single vaccination out there…and do give them to your child as much as possible because we want to prevent a disease called Liberalism. It is a mental disorder that interfers with the brains ability to think logically and to balance normal every day thinking and activities. Many of these people become so imbalanced that they become bully’s and then even killers so please take all the vac’s you can. Eat Well and Be Well
Yeah … while I bet you and I agree on a lot of things, your tone in reply to Jennifer is really poor. You don’t sound at all like someone who is getting great natural nutrition, and feeling well. Rather you sound just as snarky as the worst allopathic crank.
Wow, all this toxicity only returns back on you ….don’t ya know ??
Mark Lewis says
Jennifer, Something about your precise detail and following the recommendations so exactly and then replying with common the accusations against CLO and vaccination research really makes you sound like a troll. Not saying you are . . . however your wording did not move me to believe anything you said.
Dr. Barroso says
Now, We don’t know what to do. We believe that was a big mistake to read that article. 09-29-14
Hi, I want to know is it safe to take prenatal multivitamins(that contain 5000 IU vitamin A as beta-carotene and and 1000 IU vitamin D3 along with all the other vitamins) and Green Pastures cod liver oil + high vitamin butter oil together the whole pregnancy? Will it be safe for the baby and me, I’ve read also that cod liver oil causes bone density ? Please any suggestions for a pregnant??? I’m so confused after reading so many different things. Please reply ASAP
Tim Boyd says
It is not OK. All that beta-carotene is bad. You do not need the multivitamin when you are taking the cod liver oil and butter oil.
DIANE COMPO says
Great Website. I love Cod Liver Oil. I have one question.
Green Pastures used butter oil too. That confused me. why not goo with only
cod liver oil?
Tim Boyd says
That is based on findings of Weston Price who found that the combination of cod liver oil and butter oil was most effective for his dental patients – especially for their teeth.
vitamin k2 is needed hence butter oil
Thanks for information. Dr Mercola is trusted.
Dr. Ron Schmidt recommends and sells a quality multi-vitamin which I take daily. I also have been taking CLO/High Vitamin Butter Oil Blend for years – I just take a spoonful daily. This is not good?
Also – even with the CLO my vitamin D levels are low – 28.
Actually, I realized Dr. Ron’s multi does not contain Vitamin A. So, would you be okay with it?
Strictly speaking, I think WAPF is being a bit dishonest here.
WAPF comment above: “Vitamin A does not antagonize vitamin D.”
Johansson and Melhus 2001: “In conclusion, we have found that vitamin A antagonizes the serum calcium response to vitamin D in man [meaning humans, not men], consistent with the hypothesis of an antagonistic relationship between the vitamins.”
I looked pretty closely at the above article, which was cited in the Cannell et al 2008 article. In it, the blood serum levels of Calcium were measured following doses of vitamin A, Vitamin D, both, and placebo. I would note that when both were administered, calcium levels still rose as compared to placebo. And this was when the ratio of A to D was high (27450 IU to 80 IU, or ratio of 343).
In other words, the combined treatment (A and D) still showed an increase in blood serum calcium.
However, this was on the basis of a one-time acute dosage. Vitamin A accumulates.
As the authors note, “Vitamin A is stored in the liver and is secreted slowly
from the body. Because of accumulation of vitamin A in the
body, chronic exposure can produce toxicity at a much
lower dose than acute toxicity, which is elicited by a short
period of high-dose exposure. The safe dose for less obvious
symptoms such as bone loss is not known. Previously, we
have found an association between reduced BMD and an
intake of preformed retinol exceeding 1.5 mg/day.”
I don’t think this means that we need to have a big scare. But Weston Price’s argument point that A is not an agonist to D is incorrect on the face of it. The larger argument (that A without D is bad but A with D is okay) may be correct, but I don’t think there is clarity, really, on the ratio there, long term.
See this is why I take d-vitamin capsule along with my cod liver oil… Once I discovered I had bought a brand of Cod Liver Oil that removed most of its d-vitamin, I was shocked and quite worried… but I figure that as long as I get d vitamin from somewhere, i’ll be safe. At the very least, I will know to avoid that brand in the future 🙂
I noticed that too.somewhere in the long writings I saw that it said supplementing with vitamin d, is not the same result as getting it from the cod liver oil. Foods are the best way to receive vitamins and oils..without supplementation. Sometimes not possible tho.
I used to use Carllsons. moved to 365 cod liver oil, it was a lil cheaper, decided in the future to go back to Carlsons, the ratio is better.i suppose even in supplements, we get what we pay for!
Dr. Brian K. Bailey says
As a Podiatric physician in Appalachia (KY, WV and OH) I see many diabetics and those with skin and nail disorders. I prescribe vitamin D3 and follow up with blood testing. I like to see levels between 50 and 100. Most of my patients and myself need 10,000 units to accomplish this. I would also recommend the same amount of vitamin A. Extremely important to get at least 200 mcg of vitamin K2 mk7.
Green Bumblebee says
Mercola is a marketter, primarily, and I doubt he’s still a scientist because he has drunk the kool-aid of Global Warming/Climate Change paranoia with his latest letter recommending Di Caprio’s latest warning about global flooding: this kool-aid is mixed on a base of consensus by the faithful. But science is not consensus, and consensus is not science. As for Vit. A, make sure it’s natural and take less than 10,000 units. Vit. D with vit. K2 is an absolute must. Don’t take calcium, unless you are interested in hardening your arteries and organs: read, Thomas E. Levy, MD, Death by Calcium.
I read Dr. Mercola’s article on his website concerning Vitamin D and A…. Cod liver oil, etc… and Now have read through W.Price website article on Dr. Mercola’s same article…. It is very concerning to me because I have trusted both websites for accurate information and now there is this conflict… I always thought they were friends not adversaries, how disappointing … Also, questioning Dr. Mercola’s integrity because he also sells Krill oil just makes it that much worse. As a layman this is so troubling …Is it not enough we have had to deal with Allopathic medicine and the corruption between Big Pharma, politicians, the CDC and FDA. I am confused now what to tell my brother who has suffered some issues with his heart.
Eat real cod livers instead, its much better.