Top 5 Immune-Boosting Supplements: Cod Liver Oil - I LOVE the taste of cod liver oil... Said no one ever. Mmmmm. Cod liver oil.

The supplement that us real foodies have a love/hate relationship with.

If you would rather jump out the window than swallow a spoonful, you can always hide it in a smoothie or rub it on your bum.

No seriously! IT WORKS.

Applying cod liver oil topically (to the skin) has been a common method of giving the good stuff to babies far back into history. Just rub it into an area of thin skin like your belly or derriere to receive the most benefits. It’s cheaper than buying the capsules and makes for a way funnier story.

In my family, we chase our doses with a spoonful of elderberry syrup or mix the two together to cut the taste. The pros far outweigh the cons with this stuff so it’s worth a moment of unpleasantness.

If that moment of unpleasantness keeps coming back up…and up…and up in the form of fish burps, look into a digestive aid. Bitters, acidic foods, and digestive enzymes can all help break  that magic elixir up so you absorb all the good stuff and don’t have to keep revisiting it.

Why Do I Want This Stuff Again? 

Last week’s Baby Step, Real Food Supplements, talked about my favorite immune boosters. Safe and effective, they are a great way to increase the power of your immune system, especially during those times when your diet is less than fantastic.

Cod liver oil is way up there on the list of nutrient-dense superfoods. If you have fish allergies and can’t even add it to a rotation diet, I have the idea brewing to make a fermented beef liver oil to substitute for it.

I’ll keep you updated when I decide to tackle that one. I’m not that brave yet.

Katie’s gut and immune system have healed enough to have fish now, so I have been able to put that project on a back burner.

What’s So Good About It?

It’s a key part of our tooth healing regiment!

(preformed) Vitamin A

  • important for eye health, immune and organ function, reproductive health 1
  • especially important for people with chronic illnesses, ex. diabetics, who have trouble converting ‘pro’vitamin A – like the beta-carotene in carrots – into true Vitamin A that our bodies can use

Vitamin D

  • important for bone and tooth health, immune function, reduces inflammation, promotes calcium absorption 2

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) Omega-3s, EPA, DHA

  • important for cardiovascular health, reduces inflammation, helping to reverse depression and other mental illness symptoms 3
  • must be obtained from our diet

These nutrients can also help protect us from cancer along with a wide variety of essential nutrients. Nutrient-dense real food is key to achieving true health.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil (the only kind for us)

I will only give my family fermented cod liver oil (buy it here*). It is a raw, traditionally fermented food. It didn’t come out of a lab or have to be chemically altered to make it the “right blend” of nutrients. It is food that naturally has the right balance.

*affiliate link to the product that I use

One important point to remember is to never take cod liver oil with synthetic vitamins in it. Synthetic vitamins are treated like toxins by our bodies and should be avoided. You pee most of them out anyway. Seriously?! Seriously.

Only use whole food sources for adding nutrients to your diet. Synthetic sourcing along with  higher doses contributes to Vitamin A toxicity. Stick with the real stuff and treat it respectfully.

I prefer to follow the rotation diet with my supplements along with meals to get the widest range of nutrients and avoid overloading on  any one nutrient. This is a great plan for people with compromised liver function.

Check with your doctor and let him/her/them know what you are up to. Mainstream medicine could really use an eye-opener into where true health and healing come from.

Further Reading

Green Pasture: FAQ (producers of fermented cod liver oil)

This post is part of Monday Mania, The Morristribe’s Homesteader Blog Carnival, Barn Hop, Traditional Tuesdays, Teach Me Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Fridays, Small Footprint Fridays, Tasty Traditions

Photo Credit: planetc1


Jennifer Nervo is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Reiki Master Practitioner & teacher, and Aromatherapist. Her focus is on digestive, nervous, and immune system dysfunction and the fields of functional nutrition & psychoneuroimmunology. She works with all conditions and diseases including environmental and food allergies, autoimmune diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, diabetes, eczema, anxiety, weight loss as a symptom of dis-ease, and gut-brain disorders like autism.

When she’s not herding her small troupe of monkeys or seeing clients, her free time is packed with researching and perfecting new wellness techniques (her not-so-secret passion). Jennifer is currently a group leader for the newest class of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners out of Ann Arbor, MI, studying for the national board exam in holistic nutrition, and running a combined distance and brick and mortar practice in metro Detroit. She’s also a homeschooling suburbanite, foodie, and mama to two littles and a schnoodle.

25 thoughts on “Top 5 Immune-Boosting Supplements: Cod Liver Oil”

  • Great, yes. we all need cod liver oil, but how on earth do you get little kids to take it? I’ve tried all varieties available at Whole Foods – tangerine gummies, strawberry capsules, mango syrup etc. all received with a flat ‘NO’ HELP

    • Sophie,

      That’s a hard one. I am lucky that my daughter willingly takes it, because she knows it’s important for healing. We do have some days where she flat out refuses, and I either compromise with her and find out what she would like as a ‘thank you’ for taking it (maybe a special meal) or give her another healing food like frozen fish eggs to replace it. I know the most successful method is to add it to a smoothie. Many smoothies that include milk and banana hide the taste well. A great healing smoothie for those with less delicate stomachs is milk, a raw egg yolk, frozen banana, honey or maple syrup, berries, cod liver oil, and occasionally greens.

      I hope that helps a bit!

  • I really need to get some more cod liver oil before winter to support my vitamin D needs. I had been on it a while but not as regularly as I probably should have been, and found that it really helped eliminate my SAD symptoms. And knowing that it can also help with healing dental carries is great news! Thanks for sharing this information!

    • You’re welcome Amy! I find we have to take an extra D supplement to increase our D levels enough in the Michigan winters. I’m glad cod liver oil works for you!

  • I tried to take whole food supplements, but they contain so many of the foods I am intolerant to that they gave me trouble. Any thing else you would suggest? I feel dizzy when I stand up without a multi-vitamin and Vitamin B supplement, but I just can’t handle the ingredients in the multi-vitamins yet.

    • A balanced diet that includes fermented foods with every meal is a great start. Fermented foods help break down fibers in the food to make nutrients more available, assist in digestion, and help absorb nutrients from your food. Eating organically, locally, and seasonally will also help to ensure foods have more nutrients.

      Here are the food supplements I recommend starting with: Great food sources of B vitamins are organ meats and muscle meat of animals (pastured are best) and kombucha. A popular store-bought brand of kombucha claims high levels of multiple type of B vitamins, and I definitely notice a huge boost in energy when I have a glass of kombucha.

      It’s a big topic, but I hope that I gave you some info to get started with.

  • I bought some fermented cod liver oil, and my toddler refuses it of course. Have you tried fermented oil into a smoothie? If you put it on your child’s belly or bum, will they walk around smelling like it?

    • We have tried it in smoothies, and it’s not too bad with the Cinnamon Tingle flavor. That’s how many people take it.

      If you’re going to rub it on you little one’s skin, you will definitely smell it. Apply it before bedtime, and the smell should either disappear by morning or you can pop your munchkin in the tub if need be. All of the nutrients will have absorbed overnight.

    • Individual recommendations will vary based on your level of nutrient deficiency, health symptoms, digestion, and diet. I know of doses that range anywhere from the recommendations on the bottle of 1/2 teaspoon daily to 1 tablespoon a day. I recommend rotating it in with other nutrient-dense foods that provide the same range of nutrients like wild fish, fish eggs, and liver from pastured animals.

  • Hi Jennifer,
    My almost-5-yr-old with severe tooth decay and tooth structure loss refuses to take the chocolate CLO/BO. I have 4 bottles on hand! I filled capsules which she still refuses even though she can swallow them when filled with a probiotic. So today, she allowed me to rub some into her skin twice. I know the skin is an amazing organ and absorbs what is placed on it. But I want to be 100% certain she is absorbing all the benefits of both oils. Do we know if this is so? I want the benefits to be systemic, not just topical, and to definitely aid in the healing of her teeth. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Her body will absorb the nutrients through her skin, but I don’t have any hard data as to how much. She will likely get either the same concentration or more, because you can bypass her compromised digestion system and avoid any maldigestion issues. The most important thing is to make sure she’s getting the correct co-factors into her system to utilize the fat-soluble nutrients like Vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and Vitamin D and that you are working on healing her digestion to be sure that she’s getting the much needed nutrients.

      • Thank you! Yes, I rub magnesium gel into her skin daily, and she takes Vit D3 drops. I’m not too successful with getting her to take what the rest of us feel is delicious – Vit C chewables. Here in Ohio, we cannot get raw milk, but she is now drinking non-homogenized, low-pasteurized, grass-fed milk (as close as we are able to get to the real thing). She also is eating raw cheese and some grass-fed raw cheese (a bit drier).

        Now, to the gut healing. I made a wonderful pot of bone broth from pasture-raised chicken… and I left it out overnight by accident! About 10 hours too long! Do I toss it and start over again??

        Thank you for your link on gut healing. I have never read anything on this subject more well-outlined, organized, & informative. I will read further and delve into your additional links, but for now, are probiotics helpful?

        • Please share your thoughts on leaving bone broth out overnight. The chicken used was organic and pasture-raised. Does that make a difference? Thanks!

        • Sorry my reply is so late for your broth question! I can’t usually get to them right away. I have left my broth out many times by mistake and just bring it to a rolling boil the next morning for a minimum of 5 minutes. Many people don’t refrigerate it but leave it on the stove and reheat it each day, so I feel safe doing it once in awhile.

          You’ll find a post on probiotics in the series on healing digestion. 🙂

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