The CLO Wars


In case you don't know, CLO stands for Cod Liver Oil, a nutritional supplement our grandmas grew up on and swore by for preventing illness. My family has been taking Cod Liver Oil for some time now (4 plus years for me!) and have enjoyed great benefits. In fact, it's probably the one supplement I would take with me if I was stranded on a desert island. Recently, however, CLO has gotten some bad press. It's all very confusing. I call it the "CLO wars".

Why take CLO? It's a traditional supplement that is a high natural source of Vitamin A and D, along with essential fatty acids that are crucial for brain development. You've probably heard all about the benefits of fish oil, and our need for more Vitamin D, but not too much.....so what are we to do?

Recently, the Vitamin D council came out against Cod Liver Oil and some prominant health writers are now changing their positon on Cod Liver Oil. I was really confused, but I knew that the right information would come to me in order to help me feel more secure one way or another.

Sure enough, Kelly wrote a great post that helped clear things up for me. Even more recently, good friends of ours forwarded this article on to me by our naturopath, Dr. Daniel Chong. Please take the time to read this article. It's so clear, and concise and it makes so much sense!

Here's how he clears up the confusion, in my mind:

What quickly became apparent to me when re-reading the information from the
Vitamin D Council is that they kept referring to "modern cod liver oil" as being
a problem. I would agree whole heartedly with this contention. You see, "modern
cod liver oil" is not fully natural or whole. It is processed, molecularly
distilled, heated, and basically altered in many ways from it's original form.
It's difficult to say just how much all of these actions do to change its
constituents, but one thing is for sure. The processing many cod liver oils go
through significantly reduces their vitamin D levels. In turn we are left with a
product that has much LESS vitamin D than whole, unprocessed cod liver oil

This brings me to my second point. As seems to be the case in other
categories of nutrition and life in general, with vitamin A, vitamin D and cod
liver oil, it's really all about balance. It's pretty well established that both
vitamin A and D are essential nutrients for us. The problem comes when we over
consume one over the other. Typical store bought cod liver oil, having been
through all the processing it has, has less vitamin D than it should, thus
decreasing its ratio in comparison to vitamin A. This is where I along with
other experts I have spoken with feel the problem truly lies. Most cod liver oil
brands are, in fact, unsafe, because they contain too much vitamin A compared to
vitamin D.

So take your Cod Liver Oil; the good stuff, like from Green Pastures. (I don't get any money or free product from them for telling you so either). Remember that quality and ratio of A to D matter. And when you're outside on a sunny day in winter, roll up your sleeves for a little bit and take off your gloves and try to soak in some Vitamin D!


Our growing family said...

thank you...this was helpful!

Christy Sumerfield said...

Which form of cod liver oil do buy?

Carrie T said...

OGF: I'm glad this was helpful!

Christy: I take it in liquid form. I've taken Quantum (from www.4radiantlife.com), Garden of Life, and Green Pastures Blue Ice High Vitamin Butter Oil/CLO blend. I like them all.

Capsules are totally fine too. When I get done with my current supply, I'm going to start ordering fermented Cod Liver Oil from Green Pastures because it's really the best out there.

So important for that growing baby of yours to get through your milk!!!

Kelly the Kitchen Kop said...

Carrie, thanks for the link! And where did you find that COOL picture?!!!

Carrie T said...


No problem! The pic was from Flikr Creative Commons. Wasn't that great?

outsider said...

I have always used Carlson Labs cod liver oil and fish oil. Do you know if this brand is safe to use?