Why Flax Oil is Not a Good Substitute for Cod Liver Oil

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist Healthy LivingComments: 126

Brown Flax SeedsLast week, someone left a comment on my Cod Liver Oil 101 video which said,  “Flax oil is better for you – cod liver oil can raise your cholesterol level!”

This comment disturbed me as it is this kind of thinking that is stealing people’s health!

First, let me say that I am not against flax oil.  Flax oil is a wonderfully healthy oil that is extremely high in omega 3 fats.   The Scandinavian traditional diet even lauds flax oil as a health food.

Use of flax oil in small amounts in homemade salad dressings is a wonderful way to facilitate the proper omega 3/omega 6 fatty acid balance in your diet –  a balance that should be in the 1:1 – 1:4 range, not the 1:20 – 1:50 range of most Americans!

Getting this fatty acid balance in the correct range is critical to keeping inflammation at low levels in the body.  Overconsumption of omega 6 oils as is typical in the grain heavy Western diet rapidly causes inflammation with a sometimes unpredictable mix of symptoms based on one’s genetic predisposition.

Flax oil has historically had problems with rancidity as it is such a delicate oil that should always be kept refrigerated and never, ever heated.

Modern refrigeration during shipping has eliminated much of the rancidity problems, nonetheless, care must be taken to consume flax oil only in small amounts.  Overconsumption of polyunsaturated oils even if primarily omega 3 can lead to inflammation just the same as an imbalance in the ratio between omega 3/omega 6 fats that are consumed in the diet.

Despite the fact that flax oil contains a healthy form of omega 3 fats, it is still not a good substitute for cod liver oil and here’s why:

Flax Oil Does Not Contain Fat Soluble Vitamins

Cod liver oil, particularly the fermented kind, contains an ample amount of the fat soluble vitamins A and D and even some K.   Traditional cultures studied by Dr. Weston A. Price consumed these fat soluble activators at a rate 10X greater than Americans living in the 1920’s and 1930’s!

A daily dose of cod liver oil is an important insurance policy for maintaining health as these fat soluble vitamins supercharge mineral absorption in the diet and work synergistically to maintain immune function at a high level.

Flax oil contains no fat soluble vitamins A,D, and K because it is derived from a plant food.  While some plant foods contain vitamin K1, vitamins A and D are not found in any plant foods and must be obtained from animal foods.  Also note that beta carotene is not true vitamin A as is frequently and erroneously claimed.

The Omega 3 Fats in Flax Oil Are Different

The omega 3 fats in cod liver oil are primarily in the form of DHA and EPA which are in a ready usable form for the brain and neurological system.   The omega 3 fats in flax oil are in the form of alphalinolenic acid (ALA), which must be converted by the body into EPA and DHA.  If you have any digestive imbalance issues, which most Westerners do to some degree, the conversion of ALA into the critical EPA and DHA is unknown and more than likely insufficient to maintain health.

Therefore, it is risky to take flax oil and assume that the conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA is sufficient for your body’s needs.  It is better to consume a high quality cod liver oil to obtain EPA and DHA directly with no guesswork and finger crossing involved.

Natural Cholesterol is Not Bad for You

The comment regarding cod liver oil raising cholesterol levels was particularly concerning to me.

The natural cholesterol in animal fats like cod liver oil is very important for tissue repair and brain function which explains why cholesterol levels rise slowly as we age.   It is important to note that women with the highest cholesterol live the longest!  This is probably because natural cholesterol provides the precursors necessary for the production of natural steroids in the body that protect against heart disease and cancer.

So, what cholesterol is bad for us?

It is the oxidized or rancid cholesterol found in processed foods that should be avoided. Consuming oxidized cholesterol raises the risk of inflammatory conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

This is why the cholesterol in raw milk is healthy but the oxidized cholesterol in pasteurized skim milk is bad for you (added in the form of highly processed milk powder which adds body)

If grasping the difference between good cholesterol and bad cholesterol in your diet seems difficult at first, consider that coronary heart disease prior to 1920 was extremely rare in America, but during that same period, Americans consumed butter and cream with abandon!

It is only since the rise of processed foods and factory fats that gained momentum after World War II that heart disease, cancer and diabetes rates began to skyrocket.

Therefore, enjoy a tablespoon of flax oil added to each cup or so of  homemade salad dressing, but never consider it an adequate substitute for your high vitamin, fermented cod liver oil!


Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

Sources:  Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, p. 20.

Precious Yet Perilous

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Comments (126)

  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Hi Stephanie, Vikings had a bucket of fermenting fish livers outside their doors and the Roman soldiers had a daily ration of fermented fish oil to give them strength and endurance. Traditional cultures have consumed fish oil for hundreds of years to maintain wellness. Nothing plant based can be an adequate substitute. By the way, if you ferment fish oils the traditional way, nothing is actually pressed, the livers are fermented and the oil naturally comes out over a period of about 6 months. Processed fish oils are garbage, I agree with you on that one.

    April 27th, 2011 1:22 pm Reply
  • Michelle Merritt via Facebook

    So if one is unable to afford fermented cod liver oil, is the non fermented CLO worth taking? We hope to purchase FCLO soon but in the meantime we are taking conventional capsules.

    April 27th, 2011 1:26 pm Reply
  • Ursula Pasche Stouffer via Facebook

    Stephanie, people who only consume plant based oils risk getting quite ill eventually. Their risk of heart attack also goes up dramatically. The reason is, that the heart NEEDS saturated fat to function. Also, our brains are mostly fat. We aren’t vegetables, so why would it be enough for us to consume vegetable oils?
    Most vegetable oils you buy in the store are already rancid before you buy them. They promote disease, not health.

    April 27th, 2011 1:37 pm Reply
  • Barb Schuetz via Facebook

    Susun Weed even says you’d be better off eating sardines than taking flax. @Michelle, I think that’s an awesome question, and I’ve asked myself that one. My answer to myself; no. The non-fermented (all, as far as I know) contain synthetic vitamins. When we cant’ afford the good stuff, we just make sure to load up for other sources. I keep dehydrated salmon eggs in my freezer, can be taken like a small spoonful of pills if nothing else. I basically try to get as much oily fish stuff in as I can from sustainable sources. And lots of pastured egg yolks and butter. We do the best we can.

    April 27th, 2011 1:56 pm Reply
    • Molly

      Can you please email me at mtuemler@att.net and let me know where one might get dehydrated salmon eggs? I have a husband who refuses to eat fish. Do these give you a fishy burp? Thank you for any help you can give.

      March 20th, 2012 6:12 pm Reply
  • Samantha Salyer Jacokes via Facebook

    Recently bought the fermented fish oil … I bought the gel because it costs much less than the gel caps. So I’m giving it a try! :) I have to say the smell/taste is horrendous … LOL!! But I gag it down and chase it with something strong. Honey was suggested as a good chaser!

    April 27th, 2011 1:58 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Make sure you only buy the brands recommended by the Weston A. Price Foundation as they check whether certain brands are quality or not.

    April 27th, 2011 2:02 pm Reply
  • Samantha Salyer Jacokes via Facebook

    I bought the Green Pastures (I think that was it) that you had recommended.

    April 27th, 2011 2:03 pm Reply
  • Alice Evans Russell via Facebook

    I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve been wondering about this lately.

    April 27th, 2011 2:08 pm Reply
  • Prenatal Coach via Facebook

    Looking forward to reading this post!

    April 27th, 2011 2:09 pm Reply
  • Vancouver Nutritionist via Facebook

    Great post! I’m curious what your preferred brands of cod liver oil are?

    April 27th, 2011 2:13 pm Reply
  • Kelli

    I need to get me some cod liver oil supplements!

    April 27th, 2011 2:17 pm Reply
  • April

    Why shouldn’t flax seed be heated? I frequently make a very tasty bread that has flax seed in it. Also – this is a general question, and I’m not trying to be offensive, I really want to know – if Price’s work is so informative and crucial, why isn’t it more generally embraced by mainstream doctors? In some ways, it comes across as cultish.

    April 27th, 2011 2:18 pm Reply
    • Marina

      You are kidding, right? Mainstream doctors ARE a cult! And they march to their own party line.

      April 27th, 2011 6:10 pm Reply
      • Marisa

        It was an honest question she had, so let’s take it easy and help her in a calm way. Your response could make someone feel ashamed for asking these things.
        We should be encouraging honest questions. One way to do that is by being forebearing and gentle, even when we think the question is proposterous.

        April 29th, 2011 2:22 am Reply
    • Kelli

      “why isn’t it more generally embraced by mainstream doctors?”

      Your seriously asking that? Mainstream doctors are trained to treat pathology with pharmacology, and are usually ignorant about the real importance of nutrition.

      April 27th, 2011 6:12 pm Reply
      • Marisa

        Kelli, see above comment to Marina.

        April 29th, 2011 2:24 am Reply
        • Rebecca

          Your post of scolding another poster about scolding is kinda hypocritical isn’t? First off, she made a bold STATEMENT that people who follow the traditional diet come off as cultish..this wasn’t a question, it was a opinion of her own. Marina had a fine response and her own statement and opinion that doctors themselves seem like a cult. Which I would agree with her statement as my own opinion. But I’ve never trusted a human just because they went to a school created by other humans and now rule over others as “knowing best” simply because they have a piece of paper that says so. I for one like common sense. Is it common sense that we are now more diseased laden than our ancestors? Obviously the medical field is missing the problem, cancer and all sorts of horrific illnesses are on the rise. I remember back when it was rare to hear of someone having cancer, especially a child. Now I could probably name you a dozen off the top of my head. That is the truth and obviously the medicine, terrible diets and environment play a huge role. So will we continue to bury our head in the sand until we die at 65 of a preventable disease, tired wrinkled and false teeth? Will we dish out thousands of dollars to “treat” these diseases that keep coming back to haunt us or never go away? I for one see it isn’t working so I used common sense and started researching for my own health and for my family. Call it what you want, but I know I won’t regret my decisions.

          February 23rd, 2013 5:55 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Mainstream medicine doesn’t like Price as folks following his advice don’t need doctors or drugs much. Why would doctors and Big Pharma support an approach that would cause them to lose money? It’s always about the money .. just follow the dollar.

      April 27th, 2011 6:18 pm Reply
      • April

        Now, see, Sarah, that just sounds like paranoia and conspiracy theory to me. There are lot of caring doctors out there that really want to encourage their patients to better health, and they’re not all scheming, money-making evil people in the pocket of BIG PHARMACY. Not everybody’s in the choir here. I know probably most people commenting have converted to Price’s philosophy, but I’m just trying to get a handle on it all. If Price and his followers really have got it right, so to speak, but most doctors aren’t embracing it, I think the reason why would be a little more complex than, “They all just want to make money off you and don’t really give a peanut.” Now, I just ordered some of the Green Pastures cod liver oil and will give it a try. I’ve never had any before, or known anyone that takes it. It’s a whale of a lot of money, so it only gets one try for my family. We’ll see if the proof’s in the pudding. :)

        April 28th, 2011 12:03 am Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

          April, its not about the sincerity of individual doctors that I’m talking about. I’m talking about the American Medical Association and Big Pharma which donates millions of dollars to medical schools which gives them the power to use that money for the research projects that they dictate. By controlling med school curriculum (if you don’t believe it, consider that doctors get next to no instruction in nutrition and alternative health methods), Big Pharma is able to create an army of doctors that know nothing except drugs and surgery which is exactly what we have today. Doctors who have no idea how to solve anything medically without drugs is EXACTLY what Big Pharma wants. Again, it’s all about the money and creating a monopoly for your product (in this case, drugs).

          April 28th, 2011 7:27 am Reply
          • April

            You know, my sister said pretty much the same thing to me today about pharmaceutical companies funding medical schools. Are you saying that doctors just don’t get the information they need to properly encourage preventative care, and don’t even know they lack that information? Where is somebody supposed to get trustworthy medical care and information from then, locally, that is?

            April 28th, 2011 3:06 pm
          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

            April, you have to find an MD that has gone outside the box and learned nutrition independently and is operating kind of outside all the AMA guidelines which just reinforce the drugs/surgery approach to everything.

            Doctors that are DOs are great too as they can prescribe just like MDs but are usually more holistically minded.

            Doctors that are NDs are a good alternative as well. Ask around and you will find some awesome doctors in your community I have no doubt.

            April 28th, 2011 3:31 pm
        • kelli

          “There are lot of caring doctors out there that really want to encourage their patients to better health”

          Yeah, with drugs/surgery only! Most doctors know nothing about real health.

          April 28th, 2011 10:22 am Reply
        • D.

          April, the next time you see your primary care physician, ask him EXACTLY how much time was spent in medical school learning nutrition, when he attended. Not only will he fumble for an answer, he’ll probably say the same thing as my doctor told me – “about 8 minutes”. And even if they were to study nutrition, they would be studying what the pfarma companies and BigFood tell them is right, such as the current totally bogus USDA food pyramid. What malarkey! My doctor, seriously, thinks Weight Watchers is a healthy approach to good nutrition. Ack. Makes me want to pull my hair out, so I rarely talk food with him (in fact, I rarely SEE him).

          The problem I have with mainstream medicine practitioners doling out healthy eating advice is they just don’t understand nutrition, at least not as a trained nutritionist does, because they don’t study it in it’s purest form. Doctors won’t even tell you the honest truth about cholesterol, blood pressure readings, mammograms, or how to best help yourself if you’re diabetic – so why on earth would you depend on a doctor for nutritional advice? If you do, you’ll be heading down the wrong road which ends in a crash and burn.

          April 28th, 2011 12:08 pm Reply
          • April

            D, I don’t have a primary care physician. Haven’t found one since moving that wasn’t an evil, scheming, money-greedy doctor, ironically! I have had good doctors in the past, though, just not had good luck since moving. Asking about nutrition training is a good question to remember for when I do find one, though, thanks! And, out of curiosity, what’s wrong with the food pyramid? Didn’t they recently change it?

            April 28th, 2011 3:01 pm
  • Beth Ward via Facebook

    I’ve never heard that before! lol

    April 27th, 2011 2:20 pm Reply
  • Raine

    Something I try to be mindful of are foods which are very high in estrogenic properties. Even natural foods like flax seeds and flax oil, like many other foods (soy, sesame seeds, and various beans), are very high in estrogen and can make certain health issues worse such as fibroids or fibrocystic breast conditions. Even if you have a traditional, balanced diet, even moderate consumption of these foods could be problematic anyway because of all the xeno-estrogens in our environment from plastics and other chemicals, which are increasingly pervasive in the world due to industry use and production of new chemicals.

    Here’s a link with information about phyto-estrogens in our diets.


    April 27th, 2011 2:26 pm Reply
    • April

      What? Is this really true? Like I said earlier, I make flax seed bread for our family usually several times a week, and I have a uterine fibroid. I have never heard of these things before. I don’t know whether to believe them or not. Are there any other articles or studies out there that talk about this? If we can’t trust our doctors, how can we trust the people out there selling supplements? Everybody’s selling something… I’m going to go back to the “If it’s been eaten for centuries, it’s not going to kill me now.” Hasn’t flax been eaten for a long time?

      April 28th, 2011 2:55 pm Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        Hi April, yes flax has been eaten for a long time and it is a wonderful food. The problem is that it has never been consumed with all the psuedo estrogen mimicking chemicals in the environment like we have today. For folks that are very sensitive and estrogen dominant, Raine makes a good point – probably best to skip the flax. It is not necessary in the diet except as a plant based omega 3 oil which can easily be obtained elsewhere in better form such as cod liver oil.

        April 28th, 2011 3:28 pm Reply
      • Amber

        Hi April. Just thought I’d share ~ I used to have really bad endometriosis and have had a couple of uterine cysts. I have them pretty well managed (though not completely healed yet) through diet, supplements, and self-massage, but whenever I eat flaxseeds in any quantity, I have a major flare-up and pain. Filtered expeller-pressed flaxseed oil doesn’t effect me that way, it’s just the whole flax seeds – it may be the lignans. If it’s something you’ve been eating for a while, you may want to try cutting it out for a while and see how you feel. Take care!

        April 28th, 2011 5:08 pm Reply
        • April

          I think I might try taking a break from the flax seed bread for a while then, especially since I have a uterine fibroid and it frequently hurts. I had no idea that the flax seeds might be affecting it. That means I’ll be looking for a new dependable healthy bread recipe. Anyone have any suggestions? 😉

          April 28th, 2011 5:41 pm Reply
          • D.

            Sourdough. Sarah can help you with making your own starter, and lots of recipes.

            As to your question about the food pyramid. Never trust anything from the gov’t when it concerns your nutrition and/or your health because they don’t care about your health. If the new food pyramid were turned upside down it would work out a lot better, health-wise, with some minor tweaking, of course. Good fats and oils should be the major thing we consume daily, then meat/fish, etc. Sweetners should be least consumed. A lot of people (I’ve heard them, believe it or not) think the food pyramid is to be used from the top down (i.e., eat mostly what is at the top), others think it’s eat least of what’s at the top. I suppose it’s a matter of perception. They don’t understand it any more than the gov’t does! I don’t follow a pyramid, to be honest. But the boys in WADC have to have some sort of gimmick to try to convince the public they know something – anything – about food. They don’t.

            April 29th, 2011 10:12 am
        • D.

          I had to move completely away from flax seeds and flax oil because when I started into menopause several years ago, it kept triggering onset menstruation even after I’d gone over a year without a cycle. Lots of breakthrough bleeding (sorry for the graphics). I don’t have that trouble with FCLO. The problem I do have with FCLO is burping the fishy taste, which gags me after a while. I have had dysbiosis in the past (healed now) but I still burp it sometimes. Even the capsules don’t help. So I just take periodic breaks for a couple of days. Seems to help.

          April 29th, 2011 10:34 am Reply
          • April

            Thanks for the suggestion on sourdough, which is one of my favorite breads. If I’m going to stop making the flax seed bread, I have to have another yummy one lined up to replace it, or I’m going to have a lot of sad faces at the supper table. We all really like the flax seed bread. I read the Nourishing Traditions cookbook a while back, and I seem to remember the bread chapter was distressingly scanty.

            I sure hope we don’t get fishy burps too. I wondered about that when I ordered the capsules. That would definitely be a killer for the product in our house. I know for sure my husband is not going to want us to smell of fish all the time (much less regurgitate the taste). Not that I do either, for that matter! Maybe somebody could start a business making the capsules with parsley added in too, or something. 😀

            April 29th, 2011 3:14 pm
          • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

            Hi D. and April, I used to make my own sourdough years ago when there weren’t any decent breads to be found at the healthfood store, but no longer do as there are so many wonderful brands to buy these days. I understand it is more expensive this way, but I spend so much time in the kitchen preparing everything from scratch that making bread (which I do not enjoy doing) is something I now buy. I save so much by preparing most of our food from scratch that the extra for a couple loaves of bread every week is not a big deal.

            April 29th, 2011 4:25 pm
          • Molly

            I’m not sure if you will see this, but if you do, I take mine during dinner. I will eat a few bites, take one pill, eat a few more bites, take another pill, and finish dinner or take more depending on how much you want to take. OH, I guess I should have stated that I buy the capsules. DUH. I really wish I could talk to April because like her I had been faithfully following my dr. advice to handle cholesterol and type 2 diabetes and I was getting sicker and fatter despite doing what they say. I’ve lost 50 lbs and my cholesterol is better than ever by eating butter, meat and clo. I however choose not to eat grains, potatoes, or sugar of any kind because of my situation. Not everyone has to be that extreme.

            March 20th, 2012 6:24 pm
          • Stacy

            I have to admit being disgusted by the fishy burps as well, but won’t pay the even higher capsule price. I found that if I take my liquid FCLO right before bed chased by OJ, it works well for me. I don’t know too many people who burp in their sleep, and it’s digested by the time you wake up. ; )

            November 17th, 2012 9:23 pm
  • Daryl Rogers

    Speaking of Cod Liver Oil supplements, I just got an email from radiant life and their alternative to the Fermented cod liver oil (if you can’t do the price, taste or texture) is

    “Choose our new Super Nutrient Trio. Consisting of our Radiant Life Desiccated Beef Liver, Radiant Life Krill Oil and an all natural, live source Vitamin D3 serum, our just introduced Super Nutrient Trio is an outstanding and synergistic combination of our most essential nutrients. Our beef liver, nature’s most nutrient dense food, is available in both powder and capsule form, is a powerhouse in terms of Vitamin A, all of the B vitamins and a great source of essential minerals. Likewise, our sustainably sourced krill oil provides an unmatched source of EPA and DHA in phospholipid form coupled with a powerful antioxidant known as astaxanthin. The third leg of this Trio consists of the most concentrated, live source of Vitamin D3 with 2000 IU is a single drop! Overall, our Radiant Life Super Nutrient Trio provides the perfect, all natural combination of wholesome nutrients available on the planet. ”

    I know you had a post about Dr. Mercola’s Krill oil, but was interested in your thoughts on Radiant Life’s new product. (BTW, i probably won’t be replacing my Fermented cod liver oil, but thinking of this for the hubby)


    April 27th, 2011 2:29 pm Reply
    • Monica C

      I would love to know more about an alternative to cod liver oil. My son had an allergic reaction to the fermented cod liver oil.

      April 28th, 2011 1:43 pm Reply
      • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

        Hi Monica, you can try the fermented skate oil and if that doesn’t work, you can eat liver 2-3 times a week.

        April 28th, 2011 1:55 pm Reply
        • Diann

          Re liver, if you have to go to cooking liver to get these nutrients, since liver is often an acquired taste, I find making liver pate (with a quality or home-made mustard and other seasonings) works out nicely. You don’t need only do this with chicken or turkey livers, as beef liver works just fine.

          April 29th, 2011 7:13 pm Reply
    • D.

      This is not to say Krill Oil isn’t good, but when I tried it, it made my legs numb from the butt down. I already have a slight neuropathy in my feet so this was not good. I experimented several times, and it does the numbing thing every time. So does Tylenol.

      April 29th, 2011 10:59 am Reply
  • Suzanne Kupersmith Stapler via Facebook

    No but I believe that coconut oil is a better substitute for flax oil.

    April 27th, 2011 2:38 pm Reply
  • Crystal – Prenatal Coach

    I’ve started taking fermented cod liver oil in preparation for pregnancy! :)

    April 27th, 2011 2:57 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      YES! What a wise Mom to Be you are!!

      April 27th, 2011 4:31 pm Reply
  • Ursula Pasche Stouffer via Facebook

    A great cod liver oil is Carlson’s. An even better absorbed and stronger one is Genestra Brands Fruit EFA (comes in berry, too), which is what my naturopathic doctor has me taking right now. And it is delicious!

    April 27th, 2011 2:59 pm Reply
  • Raluca Schachter

    @ April – flax seed oil is not a saturated fat and so very unstable and damaged by heat, generating a toxic, rancid, denaturated oil. W. Price’s work (like many other studies within the natural / alternative medicine field) will never be embraced by “doctors” (at least not by most of them) since that will be the end of the conventional medicine focused on disease, rather than on building health and the end of BigPharma, resulting in a drug free, healthier world :)…

    April 27th, 2011 3:15 pm Reply
    • April

      Thanks, Raluca, for addressing that question I had!

      April 28th, 2011 12:07 am Reply
  • Kate Tietje via Facebook

    I’ve never even heard that, but that’s really dumb. I used to take flax oil before I knew better (a couple years ago) and it didn’t make a bit of difference. FLCO? Never want to be without it.

    April 27th, 2011 3:29 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I used to take flax oil mixed into smoothies — also not a bad way to take it. But it didn’t really “do” anything for me, so I haven’t taken it in a couple years. Now, FLCO/BO, I have to have!! Love that stuff. So important.

    It’s notable my husband’s cholesterol is extremely low…despite that he is constantly eating butter, grass-fed beef, raw milk, and so on. He eats a ridiculous amount of this stuff! As do I, but I don’t know my cholesterol levels. I assume “normal.” Our weight also stabilized when we began eating traditionally. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but seriously, it’s made a huge difference for us!

    April 27th, 2011 3:55 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Hi Suzanne, there are no omega 3 fats in coconut oil. It is a completely different fat than flax oil.

    April 27th, 2011 4:01 pm Reply
  • Suzanne Kupersmith Stapler via Facebook

    I realize that. However, Bruce Fife’s wife on Health by Coconut FB page claims that flax oil is hard on the adrenals and coconut oil is not. Yet she still takes CLO. I can ask her about it if you’d like.

    April 27th, 2011 4:13 pm Reply
  • Suzanne Kupersmith Stapler via Facebook

    This is what Leslie Fife meant about coconut oil being better than flax oil:

    April 27th, 2011 4:22 pm Reply
  • Suzanne Kupersmith Stapler via Facebook

    “Flax is unstable, coconut is a mostly saturated fat so is stable even at moderately high heats. Flax goes rancid and free radical upon air contact so we won’t touch it.”

    April 27th, 2011 4:22 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Of course coconut oil is fine .. I use a ton of it in my cooking. But comparing flax oil to coconut oil is apples to oranges. They have different functions in the body and are completely different fats. One cannot be substituted for another. You can simply not consume flax oil at all if you don’t want to (I don’t use it myself), but coconut oil is a good one to eat lots of. If you do consume flax oil, it must be used in tiny amounts whereas coconut oil can be used in large amounts as saturated fats makes up the biggest proportion of fat consumption in any given day while polyunsaturated fats (omega 3’s and omega 6’s like flax oil), make up a tiny proportion.

    April 27th, 2011 4:35 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Flax is also unstable, but if you buy it refrigerated at the store and keep it in the refrigerator at home and never heat it, it is quite safe and not rancid.

    April 27th, 2011 4:36 pm Reply
  • Suzanne Kupersmith Stapler via Facebook

    I don’t eat flax seed or use flax oil. I use a lot of coco and palm oils, ghee and raw or cultured butter. I take CLO and astaxanthin for my omega fats.

    April 27th, 2011 4:39 pm Reply
  • Kimberly Pender Wiezycki via Facebook

    I got all excited and got cod liver oil this past week. I took it twice and honestly thought I would throw up all day. My 8 year old did and will not take it again. What do I do now?? I gave my bottle away because as hard as I tried I gagged trying to take it a third time.

    April 27th, 2011 6:17 pm Reply
    • Molly

      buy the capsules. And take them with dinner.

      March 20th, 2012 6:30 pm Reply
  • Laurie

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been trying to explain to friends that cholesterol is necessary for health, but they keep buying the mainstream anti-cholesterol rant and risking major health damage by taking Lipitor and related drugs.

    April 27th, 2011 7:19 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Hi Kimberly, you can get empty gel capsules from the healthfood store and fill them up and take your cod liver oil that way.

    April 27th, 2011 8:26 pm Reply
  • Bonny

    Thanks for this! I just had a friend ask me today for a recommendation on CLO, and I recommended the fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend, which my whole family takes daily. I’m going to forward her this link as well!

    I saw a statistic recently that less than 6% of traditional doctors have any training in nutrition. Very sad. All you need to do is start eating traditional, whole foods to feel and see the difference for yourself. It’s amazing!

    April 27th, 2011 10:01 pm Reply
  • Katie Talbott

    Regarding traditional doctors and Price: Don’t most people with ailments want a quick fix and so that is what the doctors give them? A prescription rather than wisdom on how to treat their bodies? Eating and living healthfully isn’t always easy and if you are trying to repair past mistakes, it can take time.

    We are all responsible for our own health. Most people forget that.

    April 27th, 2011 10:22 pm Reply
  • Amy

    Just wondering what benefits cod liver oil has as compared to high quality fish oil supplements?

    April 27th, 2011 10:55 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Amy, fish oil has no fat soluble vitamins (A, D, K) in it. It is also highly processed which is not a good choice compared to the fermented cod liver oil I mention in the post which is purified with no heat and hence retains all nutrients. Fish oil is a delicate oil like flax oil and should never be heated as they do in the processing of it. Therefore, fermented cod liver oil is a much superior choice to eliminate the problem of rancidity.

      April 28th, 2011 7:30 am Reply
      • Amy

        Thank you for the info.

        April 30th, 2011 1:00 pm Reply
  • Julie Sharpe via Facebook

    Is anyone using the Green Pastures cinnamon tingle ? I think it is very easy to take and not bad tasting at all if you shoot it with a really hot cup of water. My second bottle just arrived and it tasted TERRIBLE. It didn’t look , smell or taste the same as the first bottle. I called the company and they said they have this problem with the winter shipment ( butter oil seperates from fish oil) and to just slowly warm it and stir it and that did the trick. I just wanted to mention this in case anyone else had this problem.

    April 27th, 2011 10:55 pm Reply
  • Barb Schuetz via Facebook

    Sarah- any tips on how to fill the capsules?

    April 27th, 2011 11:11 pm Reply
  • Kathy

    I’m a total convert. We’ve been drinking raw milk for years, along with local pastured beef, pork and chicken. And eggs, organic veggies, etc. And fermented CLO (though I do have to mix it with pomegranate juice). I do it because I think its the right thing do BUT my question is about the statistics, how do we know the rates of coronary heart disease prior to the 20s? I just have a really hard time with the statistical comparisons to dates with which we don’t really have reliable data.

    April 28th, 2011 1:11 am Reply
  • Leslie

    I’ve been reading a little about hemp oil. How does this compare to cod liver oil. When my husband began regularly taking cod liver oil/butter oil capsules from Green Pastures, he started experiencing a burning sensation when he peed. Not sure how to counter these effects. For now, he refuses to try anything else.

    April 28th, 2011 8:55 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Leslie, hemp oil is a plant based oil and as a result has the same downsides as flax oil when compared to cod liver oil. It is not a good substitute by a long shot.

      April 28th, 2011 9:02 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Some people do better on the fermented skate oil, by the way. It is similar in nutrient profile to the fermented cod liver oil but seems to agree with some people better.

      April 28th, 2011 9:03 am Reply
  • Grant

    By and large, I agree with the points of this article and subsequent comments. However, have we forgotten that flax seed is difficult to digest and its nutrients poorly absorbed…unless it is sprouted?
    Like other seeds and nuts, flax seed has natural enzyme inhibitors to prevent digestion. This means the seed can be eaten, pass the the body, and still grow into a plant. This is nature’s way of ensuring animals, birds, and humans distribute seeds. For example, when a person consumes whole flax seed in bakery products like bread, there is very little nutritional benefit.

    The way to overcome the problem created by enzyme inhibitors is to sprout the seed. As most of the readers of this blog know, sprouting seed (like flaxseed) biologically activates the seed. The plant proteins, essential fatty acids, starches, and vitamins are now bio-available for human digestion resulting in better nutrient absorption.
    Sprouting also increases the seeds vitamin content which naturally stabilizes the essential fatty acids. Because of the increased level of bio-availability, these essential oils are absorbed more efficiently.
    I might add that, yes, flaxseed in itself, it not a very nutrient dense food to begin with. Without sprouting, you can imagine that your are not getting much out of flaxseed. But then again, this is common among seeds.

    I am a consumer of all three: sprouted flax seed, Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and Blue Ice Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend. They all have their place in the human diet and health.

    I hopes that this article can be amended to include the main ideas of my comment. I suspect a lot of people do not read through the comments and just read the article. I care not for credit, however, I care more about contributing to truth. That very concept, truth, is why I am an avid reader of this blog. Thank you Sarah for this blog…

    April 29th, 2011 11:44 am Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Grant, I wasn’t talking about flax seed in this article, but flax oil which does not require the seed to be sprouted before the oil is extracted.

      April 29th, 2011 3:09 pm Reply
  • Kelly

    I noticed someone stated Sarah commented on crill oil… where can I find this on the site? And Sarah, as Grant mentioned sprouting . . . do you sprout? Wondering if things like Quinoa should be sprouted or if cooking breaks down the elements he mentions. Quinoa is truly a seed so his comments made me wonder . . .

    April 29th, 2011 4:25 pm Reply
  • Raj

    Hi Sarah, I truly appreciate your wealth of information on health issues and am grateful you choose to share it with the rest of us. Although this is a post on cod liver oil, I was wondering if you have any recommendations for a multivitamin for children. My sons are 3 years and 11 months old, and the current one I have uses a soy derivative which concerns me. I appreciate any information you have. Thanks again for all the posts…keep them coming!!!

    May 1st, 2011 10:35 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Raj, multivitamins are not useful for those of us pursuing a traditional diet as they are typically loaded with synthetic vitamins and undesirable fillers as you have discovered. Give your children whole food supplements like good quality cod liver oil, butter oil and perhaps a whole foods based vitamin C and feed them nutrient dense, homemade meals and that is the best approach in my opinion.

      May 1st, 2011 10:53 pm Reply
      • Raj

        Thank you for your reply…it was very helpful. Thanks again.

        May 9th, 2011 3:05 am Reply
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  • Alicia

    There was a facebook post today from Raising Natural Kids, on the benefits and uses for flax. It suggests adding it to baked goods and cooked things like meatloaf, or on top of oatmeal, along with adding it to cold items like yogurt.
    Does the “no heat” part mean even topping on hot/warm foods, and does it extend to all forms of flax like meal?

    March 27th, 2012 9:57 pm Reply
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  • Hilary

    To offer the other side of the argument — the German biologist Johanna Budwig developed a protocol to treat cancer based on flax oil and flax seed in the mid 20th century and had a lot of success with even late stage cancer. Look up the “Budwig cream”. Studies on rodents show the lignans in flaxseed stop and sometimes reverse cancer. I’m sorry to hear flax receiving such bad press.

    September 23rd, 2012 12:43 am Reply
  • Jessica Tebben via Facebook

    Flax is also contraindicated during pregnancy. It can cause preterm labor.

    November 17th, 2012 11:08 am Reply
  • Lindsay Reid via Facebook

    Good to know! :)

    November 17th, 2012 11:10 am Reply
  • Chrystina Swain via Facebook

    Thank you! Making the switch now.

    November 17th, 2012 11:12 am Reply
  • Jenna Darby Laughter via Facebook

    What’s your take on chia? High in Omega 3’s and protein, no estrogenic effects like flax…

    November 17th, 2012 11:17 am Reply
  • Catherine Garbus via Facebook

    a few other articles i have come across http://www.ndmnutrition.com/Facts%20on%20Flax.html

    November 17th, 2012 11:19 am Reply
  • Catherine Garbus via Facebook


    November 17th, 2012 11:20 am Reply
  • Elizabeth Otte Stowers via Facebook

    I love Ray Peat! :) We’re trying to avoid as many unsaturated fats as possible…we’re only using coconut oil, butter and olive oil in teeny tiny amounts. I even put a stop to our fish oil supplementation (Carlson’s fish oil). Taking coconut oil in the morning (only on a TBS per day so far + gelatin in a cup of hot chicken broth) has started to reverse some ill health symptoms I’ve had, without doing anything else to change my diet or habits.

    thehealthyhomeeconomist, how does cod liver oil compare to fish oil? Can you get the same benefits from eating liver?

    November 17th, 2012 11:32 am Reply
  • Annie Atkin Rasmussen via Facebook

    Did you see Butter Believer’s post about flax? http://butterbeliever.com/are-the-benefits-of-flax-seeds-worth-it/

    November 17th, 2012 11:45 am Reply
  • Alison Westermann via Facebook

    not to mention seeds like chia and flax are high in antinutrients and phytoestrogens!

    November 17th, 2012 11:49 am Reply
  • Kirry Kreukniet via Facebook

    Nothing wrong with good ol’ fermented cod liver oil. :)

    November 17th, 2012 11:52 am Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    Flax oil is fine in small amounts in a homemade salad dressing but not as a supplement.

    November 17th, 2012 12:10 pm Reply
  • Allie Van Wagoner via Facebook

    I have to ask because I read it online and my local health store sells it, how about hemp seed? I read it has the preferred ratios of omega fatty oils. Is this true?

    November 17th, 2012 12:14 pm Reply
  • Catherine Garbus via Facebook

    allie the ray peat article might answer some of your questions

    November 17th, 2012 12:33 pm Reply
  • Clara Bullick via Facebook

    I’d like to hear more about chia too! I’m Taking lots of cod liver oil, especially while pregnant, but I’ve also been consuming about 1 tbsp of chia per day, now I’m worried about the phytoestrogens affecting the baby boy I’m growing.

    November 17th, 2012 12:48 pm Reply
  • Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook

    I’m all in favor for the Cod Liver Oil. As a cancer survivor, I need to get as much vitamin D as possible to build my immune system. It strikes me funny that while we’re discussing Flax and Cod Liver oils, everyone else is concerned about no more Twinkies..LOL

    November 17th, 2012 1:06 pm Reply
  • Jeffrey Joseph via Facebook

    I haven’t read the article before commenting, but I know that animal fats are very important in transmission and repair. We need pure animal fats. I also know that fish oils in the capsules can go rancid because of the process. However, all oils tend to go rancid, but I hear fish oils in the liquid is a better deal (it all depends on the age and process).

    November 17th, 2012 1:10 pm Reply
  • Roseann Ligenza-Fisher via Facebook

    Jeffrey…Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I would think the fermentation process would lengthen the life of the oil. I can see your concern if it were regular cod liver oil, but I think the fermented oil is different.

    November 17th, 2012 1:28 pm Reply
  • Annie Atkin Rasmussen via Facebook

    Clara Bullick, I saw this article on Butter Believer about Chia seeds. It’s not a comprehensive look, but I think it’s a good start: http://www.butterbeliever.com/should-you-eat-chia-seeds/

    November 17th, 2012 1:50 pm Reply
  • Tosha Barnicoat Firestone via Facebook

    Is it better to take the cod liver oil as is or with the blend of butter oil?

    November 17th, 2012 2:00 pm Reply
  • Nadene

    I have tried the fermented cod liver oil that you recommended, but every time I take it along with the butter oil, it makes my scalp itch and psoriasis-like. What is going on? I have been implementing the GAPS/Paleo diet w/ lots of fats, including raw milk and grain-free.

    November 17th, 2012 3:24 pm Reply
  • Evie Andrews via Facebook

    The fermented oil is different. The price for one. And the second it’s hard to get. I have to buy online and they import it from America. You can get Cod Liver oil at any supermarket or health food store but its had no fermenting done. It’s sort of the way fish oils have gone. No goodness there at all and processed cheaply because we want pills and not food. :-/

    November 17th, 2012 3:28 pm Reply
  • Angelique Raphael via Facebook

    i don’t know who/what to believe anymore -about the cod liver oil, the article said avoid, should i stop taking it? sigh!

    November 17th, 2012 4:13 pm Reply
  • Jennifer Warren-White via Facebook

    No, don’t avoid cod liver oil! The stuff from the radiant life website is great!

    November 17th, 2012 8:29 pm Reply
  • Rana Joon via Facebook

    How much CLO should one take?

    November 18th, 2012 5:54 am Reply
  • TInaC

    If someone is allergic to fish oil, particularly Green Pastures Fermented Cold Liver OIl :-(, then what would you recommend for a good substitute for that? I used to take fish oil and love it, but decided to try Green Pastures. After a couple of weeks I began to experience all over muscle spasms, incredibly painful muscle aches and stiffness that over a couple of months become debilitating.Since it was gradual I didn’t realize what caused it at first. Once I discovered it was the oil my symptoms went away, but now I find I have become sensitized to my old oil pills, and any others I have tried. I am miserable without the supplements, but have read negative information about any substitutions. Any advice?

    April 12th, 2013 9:53 am Reply
  • Sandy

    I have been confused about whether or not flax seed can be heating. When I did a search it said for a title “Why flax oil is not a good substitute for CLO. Under it says “Why shouldn’t flax seed be heated?” but I have not found that anywhere on that article. I understand your article is about flax oil but can you clarify with flax seed if after soaking –its it ok to heat for example in oatmeal? or anyway I all. I am sorry if I couldn’t get that from the article. Thanks for your time.

    December 29th, 2013 10:17 am Reply
  • Zzeko Zzeci via Facebook

    6 Health Benefits of Olive Oil

    April 17th, 2014 11:24 pm Reply
  • Angela Bridges via Facebook

    There’s bound to be another way. Cod liver oil is absolutely disgusting.

    April 17th, 2014 11:31 pm Reply
  • Tiffany Black via Facebook

    You can get cod liver oil in capsules

    April 17th, 2014 11:32 pm Reply
  • Nancy Gardner via Facebook

    You can get it with flavors like mint. I burp mint after I take it lol

    April 17th, 2014 11:34 pm Reply
  • Alan Santana

    The trick is to take both.

    April 17th, 2014 11:38 pm Reply
  • Keith Black via Facebook

    Doesn’t Cod come from the ocean that is contaminated with mercury, toxins, and radiation? Flax seed oil has been recommended for years to fight cancer and is free of the contaminates that plagues stuff from the ocean. I think that many others would disagree that cod liver oil would be better than flax seed oil.

    April 18th, 2014 1:35 am Reply
  • Kim Griffin via Facebook

    I do not understand people. I can swallow almost anything…

    April 18th, 2014 1:59 am Reply
  • Cassandra Lanning via Facebook

    Flax is highly estrogenic. Go for it dude.

    April 18th, 2014 2:19 am Reply
  • Rainbow Miller via Facebook

    I was wondering what people are doing or thinking when it comes to CLO, with the whole japan radiation leak.. If tuna is so highly contaminated (from the pacific) are you not worried about CLO? We used to take it, but I stopped when I found out I was pregnant. After reading so much about radiation levels in fish migrations to and from, CLO concerns me…

    April 18th, 2014 5:57 am Reply
  • Kristin Cusamano via Facebook

    Heard flax effects hormones

    April 18th, 2014 7:32 am Reply
  • Alexandra Hoxworth via Facebook

    I feed my chickens flax seed. It enriches there eggs with extra omega 3.

    April 18th, 2014 8:17 am Reply
  • Mark Dyas via Facebook

    I’m convinced that many people read blogs/posts to the point where they disagree then most stop reading and the odd few leave negative comments….

    April 18th, 2014 9:04 am Reply
  • Louisa Enright via Facebook

    Cod liver oil quality can vary. I use Green Pastures FERMENTED cod liver oil as it is the only one remaining that is traditionally made. I think some versions are called Blue Ice. The others heat treated and add back man-made vitamins. The oil is filtered to remove impurities–so no heavy metals. The oil has been repeatedly tested for purity and always passed. Here’s an article from The Weston A. Price foundation discussing this matter: http://www.westonaprice.org/cod-liver-oil/2008-dec-clo-update. Cod liver oil is a nutrient dense food. Flax seed oil is useful, but isn’t in the same class as cod liver oil. Plus, you have to consider its load of Omega 6’s… The capsules are waaaay more expensive than the oil itself–and it’s pricy, but goes a long way. I use a bottle about every three months. So, quarterly…

    April 18th, 2014 9:59 am Reply
  • Blanche Bonnette Moore via Facebook

    flax causes a flare up of my diverticulosis. I have to stick with cod liver oil, and thankful to learn about GREEN PASTURES FERMENTED… thank you Louisa Enright!

    April 18th, 2014 12:06 pm Reply
  • Cindy Smith via Facebook

    yeah flax messes with your period…delays them.

    April 18th, 2014 11:59 pm Reply

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