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Why isn’t Carlson brand Cod Liver Oil on the Weston A. Price recommended brands page anymore?

Fermented Cod Liver Oil label

***Please note that there have been some recent concerns about the below product. Please read more at this post, do some reading and research, and decide for yourself what is best for your family. Thank you.

Some of you may be sick to death of reading about cod liver oil by now. Others really won’t care about the following information at all, and may be quite content just clicking over into the cod liver oil post-part 3 to find out which are the good quality brands (there IS a difference) and where to get the best price.

But if your mind is more detail-oriented (OK, and more twisted like mine), and you wonder why the Carlson brands are no longer on the Weston A. Price Foundation recommended brands page (they actually haven’t been there for a while now), then I can help clue you in.

UPDATE 10/08: the following information is irrelevant now, see this fermented cod liver oil post for the latest information.

I actually did this research months ago, before I put up my cod liver oil series, but decided to post this now after receiving an email from my friend, Julie:

Kel, Just read your great updates about cod liver oil. Do you know if WAPF no longer recommends Carlson? I say that because I am currently taking Carlson, as Murphy’s Law would have it. :) I’m in the market to get more soon, so if you want to go in on the Blue Ice, count me in!

My reply:


Since you asked about the Blue Ice, I assume you’re talking about the Carlson liquid, and no, it is not on the WAPF page of recommended brands anymore because their vitamin A & D amounts are much lower than the other brands listed there.

In comparing what they do recommend, I found Green Pastures and Radiant Life had similar pricing on the liquid, but Dr. Ron’s was much more expensive. So I recommend the Green Pastures brand, since that’s what I’m familiar with and have always bought for the kids.

I can’t remember where I read it, but I believe the liquid is the best way to take it; one reason is so you don’t have the problem of possible issues with the gelatin in the gel tabs, another is probably so you don’t have to swallow a lot of pills. But if you’re like me and can’t take the liquid…


I take the Carlson gel tabs and when Carlson was no longer on their recommended brands page, I did some research. First, I emailed Sally Fallon, and she said the reason is the same as above, that the vitamin amounts were much lower than the WAPF recommended brands. But that isn’t what I found in regards to the Carlson “high vitamin 1000 mg” gel tabs, only with the Carlson liquid.

All this made me want to research even more – it actually took me hours and hours getting all the information and prices and sizes and comparing them, calling/emailing the companies to clarify things, etc. I wanted to be sure about what I suggested people buy, since what I found was different than what the WAPF was recommending (in regards to cod liver oil in capsule form)…

Here is what I found out about Carlson’s “high vitamin 1000 mg” gel tabs

  • They are processed in the same high quality ways as the brands on the WAPF site. (This part took a loooong time: calling the various companies, looking things up online, etc. – I’m confident with what I found, but if you find anything different, please let me know.)
  • They also have only natural vitamin A & D (not synthetic)
  • With Carlson brand you need to take 5 gel tabs/day to get the amount recommended on the WAPF site, compared to 4/day with 2 of the brands they recommend, and 7/day with the other brand they recommend. (To clarify, here I am just comparing the brands of cod liver oil in capsule form.)
  • BUT, prices are MUCH less expensive (through the site I recommend anyway) for the Carlson gel tabs compared to the other capsule forms of cod liver oil that they recommend, which is worth taking one extra gel tab a day to me.

Hopefully all this has been helpful and doesn’t bore you to death!

Enough about cod liver oil already!


  1. Kelly,

    Thanks, this was very helpful to me since I take the Carlson caps also (I switched to them after reading your other CLO posts).

    I’m always impressed by the depth of your research and appreciate the time you spend. Thanks for sharing.


  2. I have been taking the Garden of Life brand cod liver oil (lemon mint flavor, liquid), since, last I checked IT was on the WAPF list of recommended brands. I better go see if it’s still there, as I’m ready to order more!

    One other benefit to the liquid, is that you won’t burp nearly as much. Swallowing all those gelcaps means you swallow a lot of air. Taking the liquid is like taking a spoonful of cough syrup. I like the Garden of Life brand, because I really like the lemon-mint flavor.

    I order mine from and always pair it with a big order of coconut oil (Nutiva), and usually share the order with a friend so that we can get the free shipping. ($99 = free shipping, otherwise, flat $5 rate, and the prices are 30-40% off what Harvest Health charges.)


  3. Shauna,

    Even with your deals and sharing orders with friends, just to be sure, have you checked the coconut oil prices I posted? Those were some good deals, although with the price increases, it may be pretty close to what you get now.


  4. I haven’t checked…. I think I remember looking at it, but just briefly. I’ll have to look at it again. We are able to always get free shipping, and vitamin shoppe seems to be the cheapest IF you can get the free shipping.


  5. Does anyone know what makes the WAPF recommended cod liver oils so much higher in natural A & D? Supposedly these (and a great many other brands, such as Carlson) are harvested from the reportedly "pristine" arctic waters near Norway. I'm puzzled as to *how* specific cod liver oil brands can boast tremendously higher levels of A/D when it sounds as if they are harvested from virtually the same area. I've heard from a prominent Vit D researcher that cod liver oil in general does not have nearly the naturally high levels of A/D it has in the past, so I'm very curious as to how some brands tout alpine-like levels of natural A/D.

  6. Julie,

    Here is how I understand it: ALL cod liver oil loses its vitamin content when it is cleaned. Some companies add back in synthetic vitamins (not good, but probably cheaper) and some add natural vitamins back in. The companies with the higher levels add back in more – which is how it came naturally. Other companies have wrongly believed that those levels can be dangerous, so they didn’t add as much back in (or possibly didn’t want to spend the money to add as much back in).


  7. Kelly,

    Thanks for answering my query! You really do your research, which is so very helpful to all of your “constituents”!! :)

    Cod liver oil sounds as if it is a little more processed than I would have hoped. I had thought that “only naturally occurring levels of vitamins A and D” meant exactly that, meaning that nothing was added whatsoever. Are you aware of the companies who add synthetic vs. natural? And how do they add “natural” vitamins, anyway? Inject Vit D-3, etc.? That’s disappointing, and really makes me think twice before I shell out more $ for “quality” cod liver oil. Maybe we can get some answers at the upcoming conference. Don’t feel that you have to answer all of these “rantings”…I’m simply thinking “out loud”…:) :) :)


  8. Hi Julie,

    I’m so excited for the conference! I’ll be posting more on that this week, too. :)

    I know, I never like it when I hear that something so natural is actually “processed”, however, I think in this case it is OK. I figure it does have to come out of the cod somehow and I suppose I’m glad it’s cleaned! I’m not sure about this, but I believe that the kinds our Grandparents took also were minimally processed in similar ways.

    There are definitely differences in HOW different companies process it, though. I don’t know which companies put back in synthetic vitamins (vs. the natural vitamins), which is why I’m leery of any company that I haven’t thoroughly researched. I want to find out not only if they add back in natural vitamins, but also HOW it is processed. (The ones in my cod liver oil part 3 post are all the “good” ones.)

    Hope that helps!


  9. HI Kelly, I have been using for the past week fermented cod liver oil in the cinnamon tingle flavor. This is the “Blue Ice” brand from Green Pastures. It is great! I would even be so bold as to say it’s tasty!

  10. Julie,

    “Tasty”?? Really?!

    Would you mind sharing with us how you decided to spend the extra money on the fermented CLO?



  11. Hi Kelly,
    Yes, tasty. I look forward to my daily dose. I think if you tried it you would agree that it is very non fishy. It has a very slight bitterness but it is not off-putting.
    In reading the amount of doses on the fermented cod liver oil its 250. (this is a regular size bottle) the doses on the regular cod liver oil is about 97. Based on that, I don’t think there is much difference between the two.

  12. I take the Green Pastures Blue Ice (liquid) now.
    It is fermented, so no heat is used. This is much better, better than Carlsons; you don’t seem to mention this important fact here Julie?
    Liquid is always the best way to go when compared with capsules, I’ve been told this and read this in many places but unfortunately forgot why, but it is better for you.
    The cod liver oil I now have is much higher in nutrients than any other I’ve seen!

  13. Hi Robert,

    I have a update at the top of the post about the fermented CLO – when the earlier comments were written, it was all still new to me. Now I know how much better the fermented is!

    I have a whole post on the FCLO if you want to take a look.


  14. I’m confused about why Carlson’s was removed from WPF recommendation. From their article, it seems to me the issue is about Vit A:D ratio (10:1 or less). Carlson is within that ratio and also claims that no synthetics are added (per their FAQ I’m personally not fond of their Garden of Life brand recommendation, frankly; the taste and murkiness leave me skeptical of purity. I still like Carlson’s overall for value and quality, even though I’m sure Nordic Naturals and some of the other upscale brands might be more pure and nutrient dense, but have not tried them yet. By the way I found this interesting thread supposedly started by a quality control guy at Carlson Labs who seemed pretty convincing/credible (at least to me) in terms of correcting some of the rumors about their product.


  15. Hi Marc,

    The first link you gave is for a pdf that was copyrighted in 2004, and the next link (in Onibasu) was a thread from 2005. The word came down only within the last few months (as far as I know anyway) about the only natural source for vitamins A & D no longer being available soon. Carlson CLO MAY still have natural vitamins even now, but their only possible source is not making it available anymore, so at some point in time (nobody really knows when because it depends on the supply that is left), they will either have to use synthetic, or they’ll have to take out the A & D.

    Hope that makes sense,


  16. Thanks for the reply Kelly. Can you tell me where you got this information (source)? You say: “word came down”. From where exactly? I understand that the PDF is copyrighted 2004; however, it is still on the current web site FAQ, so as a consumer I have to assume its still relevant to current year, otherwise, why would it be legally allowed there? I guess I’m still confused because part of the process of making cod liver oil for companies like Carlson’s (as I understand it) is to remove the naturally occurring vitamins during filtration and then add them back in. So why would they need a “source” ?


  17. Marc,

    I know that this is all very confusing. When I say “word came down”, I mean that as far as I know (and I don’t know all that much, I’m just sharing with you my limited knowledge on the whole topic), word came sometime last year from the one and only company in…Norway I think, where the CLO companies would get their natural vitamins A & D, that they were closing, or stopping that part of their operation or whatever. Speculation (or solid information, I don’t know) by Dave at Green Pastures is that there just isn’t a demand for it anymore, because the latest “politically correct” version of all this is just the omega 3’s, and drug companies have gotten all over this one of late, due to the studies showing their benefits for heart health, etc., but the vitamins A & D aren’t so politically correct, and many people don’t know about those benefits, and so the demand for them isn’t there. (Except in Weston Price circles of course!)

    You’re right, the normal process for making CLO is to remove the naturally occurring vitamins during filtration and then add more naturally occurring vitamins back in (not the ones they just took out, must be that isn’t an option for some reason, but they would add back in natural A & D from another source, or some companies add back in the synthetic kinds).

    SO, that is why only the CLO that no longer has their vitamins removed in the first place is the only kind I now recommend – it is not heated at all, so the vitamins are still there, it is only cleaned.

    You may be able to find out more at the Green Pastures blog:

    Let me know if you’d like me to try and explain anything better. :)

    Kelly p.s. Also, there is more info at this post:

  18. hello, after reading all the info on oils i’m more confused, can anyone tell me what oil is the very best. and where can i purchase some.
    thank you todd….

  19. BEWARE COD LIVER OIL SYNTHETICS My little boy and I became extremely hypothyroid from the Twinlabs cod liver oil. High levels of synthetic retinols can supress thyroid function. I had to seek medical attention because my thyroid gland swelled up to the point of choking me and my heartrate slowed down to a dangerous level…so beware of high levels of synthetic vitamins in cod liver oil!!!!!!!

  20. Not sure if this was mentioned but Carlson’s uses vitamin E as a preservative in there gel caps. The vitamin E is from GMO soy. I called them and they said they do use GMO soy.

  21. I’ve been a big fan of Carlson’s as a cheaper alternative to Nordic Naturals. It looks as though Carlson’s price really jumped to where the difference is “nominal”. I am NOT interested in fermented CLO at this time. Do you have any recommendations for a good quality Cod Liver Oil that is non-fermented?
    Should I go with Nordic Naturals, or is there another one out there to check out?


  22. Thanks Kelly,
    Wish I had not put my last name on that first post. But I didn’t see any way to delete it. Kind of creepy to have your name out there in the “cyberworld”… Oh well. I will try to find the Radiant Life product. So, they’ve all gone synthetic which you would think would mean cheaper, but it looks like more expensive instead. WHERE IS THE DISLIKE BUTTON…..

  23. Nordic Naturals state on their website that they do not use any synthetic vitamin A in their product. This is very important to me.

    I am interested in the fermented products, but feel it is too risky when I am planning to conceive soon because the fermented versions do not state exactly how much vitamin content is in their product. I don’t want to take any chances.

    From the research I have done, I think Nordic Naturals is probably the best option, but I am still open to other suggestions and ideas.

    • Hi Anya,

      The only reason the exact amounts aren’t stated exactly is because when it’s a natural *food*, and doesn’t come off a factory assembly line, nothing can be exactly the same from one batch to the next.

      If we were ever to have another baby, the FCLO is the only kind I would take, because I’d know I’m getting the A & D in the exact proportions that are found naturally in fish, and these natural proportions are the safest amounts to consume. (It’s not the *amount* of vitamin A that is a safety factor, it’s when the A & D are not in correct proportion to each other.)

      Not to mention all the many other benefits such as the fermentation/probiotic benefits, and the huge number of micronutrients in each dose.

      Just my thoughts!


  24. Hi there ~

    I stumbled across your page as I was doing research on cod liver oil…I’m wondering if perhaps you can help me better than I can help myself seeing as how you already know so much!

    A friend had me try their cod liver oil, I believe Carlson’s lemon flavored one and quite frankly, I thought it was delicious which is what sparked my wanting to research before I bought my own.

    The more I look into things, the more and more expensive the best of the best is and right now I’m on a very tight budget. Here comes my question.

    What would you recommend to someone that doesn’t have the money to buy the best of the best and is temporarily in the mindset of well, something has to be better than nothing…what are my options?

    I appreciate your help!!

    • Hi Lacy,

      If it were me, I’d just take a little *less* of the quality stuff and make sure I was filling in well with plenty of pastured meats and dairy, and safe seafood.

      I just love knowing that this brand has the most bang for my buck, the most nutrients, minimally processed in traditional ways, etc…


  25. Hello Kelly. I’ve just completed about 2 hours of of research on cod liver oil. I went from a pamphlet about Carleson’s that I got at my local health food store, to Amazon, to Weston Price, and now finally, to here. 😉

    It seems as though Green Pasture’s fermented cod liver oil is the only way to go at this point. I’m always looking for the purest, highest-quality source of something I can find. Even if Carlson’s still had natural vitamin’s A & D, I would still probably opt for the fermented version. As I want what nature offers me and nothing more. I hate modern refining to make things cheaper. We’ll pay the premium, just do it right.

    With all that being said. Do you recommend the original formula, or that mixed with high vitamin butter oil? I was thinking about just using a local grass-fed butter in combination with the fermented cod liver oil. Then again, the idea of taking butter every time I take a teaspoon of oil does seem rather unpleasant. If you would be so kind as to give me your input. And thanks for making such an awesome site!!

    • I’d say the very best is the combo, because the butter oil comes from totally pastured cows eating spring grasses, but we didn’t like the taste. So we take just the FCLO but with plenty of local butter with all our meals.

      Some like it just fine, though, so you may want to try it out for yourself. :)

      • I happen to really like the cinnamon tingle fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend! it’s not horrible to take at all!!! think a stick of big red :)

  26. Hi! Thanks for all of the great CLO information. I am suffering from heavy menstrual bleeding and have read a lot that CLO in higher doses can help with that. I’ve bought 2 different kinds and I am confused on how much is safe to take and how to know what kind of Vitamin A they have in them.

    I have Carlson’s 1000 mg capsules (2000 IU of Vit A and 400 IU of Vit D). I also have Vitamin Shoppe brand liquid CLO, but it doesn’t specify what kind of A is in it. This one has 4500 IU of A and 450 IU of D.

    Any ideas?


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