My family takes cod liver oil daily, as a sort of insurance policy (you can read more about why we take cod liver oil daily here as well as other whole food supplements we take). As my family has traveled the path of traditional foods, we’ve incorporated cod liver oil, bone broth and fermented foods into our daily routine, for our better health. It’s second nature now.
Cod liver oil is particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. These fragile fatty acids help to support general health in many ways, but seem to be particularly supportive of emotional well-being and mental health (read it here, here and here). As someone who has long suffered from bouts of deep and dark depression, I do everything in my power to keep myself healthy, because I’m terrified of sliding back. A healthy diet, and whole food supplements are part of that, and so is talk therapy.
We also take cod liver oil not only for its array of healthy fats, but also for its balance of vitamin A and vitamin D, which perform a wide variety of functions in the body.
Do you struggle taking cod liver oil?
When I write about the value of cod liver oil in my family’s diet, I inevitably find my inbox overwhelmed by the same question: how to take it. (By the way, you can reach out to me with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime you like. I can’t always answer them, but I do try.) My family takes our cod liver oil straight off the spoon (it helps when you buy a quality oil that tastes good), but for many of you who wish to weave cod liver oil into your own family’s routines, it’s still a struggle. I’ve included some of my favorite tips below, and I hope you’ll share yours too.
Start with a Good-Tasting Cod Liver Oil
Food should taste good, and so should your cod liver oil. Remember, cod liver oil is a whole food, like olive oil or coconut oil, and it should taste pleasant like fish, but not overtly fishy. And for anyone who has tasted a rancid cod liver oil, you know just how nasty it can be: off-putting to the nose, particularly offensive on the palate. A bad cod liver oil will make you gag. And many of Nourished Kitchen’s older readers have developed a life-long aversion to cod liver oil (though it has many benefits) after having suffered through daily doses of less-than-fresh oils in their youth.
Watch Out for Rancidity in Your Oils
Like all oils, and fragile oils high in polyunsaturated fatty acids in particular, cod liver oil is prone to rancidity. Your nose and taste buds are your biggest assets in testing for rancidity in any oil, including cod liver oil. Rancid oils have a distinctive off-putting aroma and flavor, they smell potently strong and can, with time, develop a sticky, tacky or greasy quality or mouthfeel. Their aroma can smell faintly paint-like, strongly fishy or oddly sweet. Different manufacturing methods and storage methods can influence the flavor of cod liver oil, as well as influence its longevity.
If you suspect that bottle of cod liver oil lurking in the back of your cupboard has gone rancid, it’s best to pitch it as rancid oils don’t support optimal health due to the degradation of vitamins, the oxidation of their fragile fats and the potential development of toxic compounds. While consuming rancid oils in the short term isn’t likely to cause you any issues, their effects build with time and prolonged exposure (read more here).
The Cod Liver Oil I Give My Family
If you’re struggling to take cod liver oil (though you value its many benefits), start with a good-tasting cod liver oil and you might find that you and your children don’t struggle with taking it. I work with Corganic, and have been taking their Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil for some time. It’s pleasant, mild, fresh-tasting. It’s also minimally processed and sourced from sustainable fisheries. We take it straight off the spoon.
Try Swirling Cod Liver Oil into a Shot of Juice
If you’ve found a cod liver oil that you like, but you or your family members still struggle to take it, consider the old-fashioned, time-tested method used by many, many mothers and grandmothers: pour a bit of the cod liver oil (1/2 teaspoon for children, and a 1 teaspoon for adults), into a shot glass and top it with orange juice or something else that can stand up to the assertive flavor of cod liver oil. Mildly acidic drinks work well to balance the oil. Kombucha, orange juice and tart cherry juice do nicely. Drink it up, and you’re done.
Follow It with a Chaser
If it’s the aftertaste of cod liver oil that bothers you, simply follow your dose with a chaser, especially something bright, watery and cleansing to the palate. A slice of cucumber or orange, or a handful of fresh berries will usually cleanse the palate after you’ve taken your cod liver oil.
Apply Cod Liver Oil on the Skin
The skin is our largest organ, and absorbs what you put onto it. Just as you can apply magnesium oil to your skin topically, to boost magnesium levels (this magnesium body butter is a brilliant approach, by the way), you can also take your cod liver oil topically. This method works particularly well with small children. Simply rub it into the skin on the belly or the bottom just as you would lotion