As its name indicates, cod liver oil is an oil that has been extracted from the liver of a cod. This natural substance is praised for being a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which research indicates may help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. The most common acids found in cod liver oil are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Additionally, cod liver oil is typically a pretty reliable source of Vitamin A and Vitamin D. 

Those considering introducing cod liver oil to their diets should consult a medical professional. There are many options of cod liver oil available on the market, and the oil is typically sold either in liquid oil or encapsulated form. We took a peek under the hood of some of the best cod liver oil available, and compared them. 

best cod liver oil

Editors’ Choice:

Carlson Cod Liver Oil

Pros:

  • Each 1 tsp serving of Carlson Cod Liver Oil contains 1,100mg omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the richest sources of these fatty acids available on the market. 
  • Carlson uses Arctic cod caught off the coast of Norway and extracts the oil from this fresh fish on the day its caught.
  • Carlson uses a natural lemon flavor to mask the fishy taste typically associated with cod liver oil.

Cons:

  • Some of the vitamin content in Carlson’s cod liver oil is from synthetic sources. 
Carlson Cod Liver Oil
Carlson Cod Liver Oil
Carlson Cod Liver Oil

Using Arctic cod caught off the coast of Norway, Carlson Cod Liver Oil offers a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids at a reasonable price. Carlson takes pride in its natural lemon flavor, intended to cut down on the fishy taste sometimes associated with cod liver oil.

Contender:

Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil

Pros:

  • A 1tsp serving of Nordic Naturals’ cod liver oil contains 1060mg of omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Nordic Naturals uses wild fish caught off the coast of Norway in a manner that, they claim, maintains the sustainability of the ocean’s ecosystem.
  • Non-GMO verified and third party tested for purity.
  • A natural orange flavoring covers up the fishy taste sometimes associated with cod liver oil. 

Cons:

  • In comparison to some other cod liver oils, this product contains no Vitamin D.
  • On a cost per serving basis, this is a bit more expensive than some of the other cod liver oils available.
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil
Nordic Naturals Arctic Cod Liver Oil

Nordic Naturals offers a plentiful source of omega-3 fatty acids while using natural orange flavors to disguise any fishy taste. The manufacturer touts their process for catching wild fish in a sustainable and responsible fashion off the coast of Norway.

Also Consider:

Garden of Life Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil

Pros:

  • Each serving of Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil contains 5,000 IU of Vitamin A and 200 IU of Vitamin D. 
  • Natural lemon and peppermint essence is added to give this cod liver oil a unique lemon mint taste.
  • Each serving includes a total of 962mg of fatty acids. 
  • On a cost per serving basis, this is a bit cheaper than some of the competitors on the market. 

Cons:

  • Not much information available about the sourcing of the cod used or the process of extraction.
Garden of Life Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil
Garden of Life Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil
Garden of Life Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil

Garden of Life offers a lemon mint flavored cod liver oil at a very competitive price point. Using Icelandic cod and “traditional” methods of extraction, each serving of Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil contains 962mg of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Best Capsule:

Carlson Cod Liver Oil Capsules

Pros:

  • Each serving of Carlson Cod Liver Oil Capsules contains 460mg of omega-3 fatty acids, including 170mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA.
  • Made with a slightly lemon flavor, these softgels can be chewed or swallowed and are designed not to leave behind a fishy aftertaste. 
  • Sourced from fresh cod caught off the coast of Norway. 
  • Each serving also contains relatively small amounts of Vitamin A and Vitamin D directly from the cod liver oil, as well as synthetic Vitamin E.

Cons:

  • According to the instructions, each serving is 2 capsules, which may be cumbersome for some.
Carlson Cod Liver Oil Capsules
Carlson Cod Liver Oil Capsules
Carlson Cod Liver Oil Capsules

Not everyone enjoys swallowing fish oil in its liquid form. For those who prefer capsules, consider the offering from Carlson. Nutritionally, these are a bit lower in omega-3 fatty acids compared to some of the liquid options, but still provide 460mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving. 

Methodology

There are a few key features to consider when looking at cod liver oil. While the core of each offering is similar, there are distinctions in dosage, sourcing, and other areas. Consider some of these factors before adding any cod liver oil to your cart. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

There are two main sources of omega-3 fatty acids found in cod liver oil: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Keep an eye out for these two ingredients, typically broken down under Omega-3 Fatty Acids, or a similar labeling. Some brands will stack their cod liver oil with other omega 3s, beefing up their total omega-3 fatty acids while skimping on these two key ingredients.

Purity

Some cod liver oil supplements have been found to have heavy metals in them. It may be wise to consider if a particular product has been third-party tested.

Taste

Fish oils have a bit of a reputation for a fishy, less than pleasant taste. Many manufacturers attempt to mask that fishiness with natural flavoring, often utilizing mint or citrus. 

Vitamin A and Vitamin D

Most cod liver oils include some combination of Vitamin A and D. While these two vitamins are naturally found in cod liver oil, it’s important to note that some manufacturers will bolster the levels of these vitamins in their recipes by adding synthetic ingredients. 

Form

The two most common forms of cod liver oil are liquid and capsule form. Ultimately, this comes down largely to personal preference, though it’s worth noting that most liquid forms have higher dosage rates per serving than capsules. 

Cost

Take a look at the label and figure out how many servings per container are listed. Then, to get a comparison on cost per serving, divide the total cost by the amount of servings in a given container. 

BarBend Tips

  • It’s wise to consult a medical professional before adding cod liver oil to any health regimen. 
  • If cod liver oil is right, it’s wise to take the same amount at the same time everyday and to keep track of what type of effect it has.

Folks in certain parts of the world have been relying on cod liver oil for centuries as a way to bolster omega-3s and vitamin intake. Today, there are a host of cod liver oil options widely available.