Everyday Whole Food Supplements for Resilient Health.

cod liver oil and supplements

I believe that nourishment should come from food, not supplements. And that sentiment has drawn a bit of ire from Nourished Kitchen readers in the past few weeks who feel that routine vitamin and mineral supplementation is a necessary aspect of wellness.  I disagree, and we don’t take daily vitamins in our home.

Our bodies, you see, are meant to receive their nourishment not from pills and isolated formulas of minerals and (often synthetic) vitamins, but from honest-to-goodness real food which is, of course, not to say that those who are suffering from particular health conditions won’t achieve benefit from consuming supplementary vitamins and minerals as prescribed by a health care practioner.   For most of us, though, we should get our vitamins and minerals from food and not supplements as nutrients are better absorbed from foods rather than pills. Further, when consuming vitamins and minerals in isolation you are likely to miss other nutrients complementary to the isolated mineral or vitamin pill you’re swallowing.  That is,  vitamins do not occur in isolation in nature; rather, vitamins occur in complementary groups and it is these companion vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that give the greatest benefit to our bodies.

Nonetheless, we could all use a bit of nutritional insurance policy – boosts of concentrated vitamins and minerals.  And, for this reason, my family chooses to consume whole food supplements with their naturally occurring array of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats rather than isolated vitamins, minerals or multivitamins.  Whole food supplements, like fermented cod liver oil or dessicated liver capsules, provides that concentrated level of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats but in a minimally processed way.  These aren’t multivitamins, folks, but whole foods brimming with concentrated nutrition.  As such, they contain their full and natural complement of associated vitamins and minerals so that you get your boost of nutrition, but in the most natural state possible.  It’s real food, folks – just beautifully concentrated.

Our Everyday Whole Food Supplements

Fermented Cod Liver Oil / High Vitamin Butter Oil

In accordance with the dietary guidelines of the Weston A Price Foundation, we consume fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil daily, usually as a blend. Fermented cod liver oil, unlike straight fish oil, is processed gently and retains its naturally-occurring array of vitamins – particularly vitamins A and D.   Indeed, cod liver oil is the most concentrated food source of both vitamins A and D.  It is, in the truest of meanings, a superfood.  Further, fermented cod liver oil   It is strongly anti-inflmmatory and contains a potent dose of omega-3 fatty acids.  The docasahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are extraordinarily difficult to assimilate from plant-based sources1 of omega-3 fatty acids like flax seeds, but provide a formula for resilient health.  Clinical studies suggest that EPA can help to lower overall systemic inflammation, decrease risk of depression and provide potential benefit for psychological disorders like schizophrenia and help to ameliorate symptoms associated with hyperactivity.  DHA offers similar benefits including some protection against Alzheimer’s disease, and the inhibition of cancer.

When Dr. Price administered cod liver oil to his patients, he did so in conjunction with high vitamin butter oil.  High vitamin butter oil is produced from the vitamin-rich cream of grass-fed cows.  It is a powerful source of fat-soluble vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K2.  Vitamin K2 is a potent cancer fighter and known to support bone health.  High vitamin butter oil also contains the Wulzen factor (stigmasterol) – which may be useful in the prevention of certain cancers and which also promotes joint health.  When taken together, fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil work together – almost synergistically.  That is, the arachidonic acid (AA) – an omega-6 fatty acid -  found in high vitamin butter oil helps to balance the EPA and DHA found in fermented cod liver oil thus promoting a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids.

What’s in fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil blends?

  • Healthy Fats: DHA, EPA, AA, Butyric Acid, Stearic Acid, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, Lauric Acid, Myristic Acid
  • Vitamins: A, D, E, K2.
  • Minerals: Zinc, chromium and iodine (in trace amounts).
  • Other Goodies: Wulzen Anti-stiffness Factor, Lecithin

How to take it and where to buy it:

  • How we take it: At the suggestion of our nutritionist, my husband and I both take 1 1/2 teaspoons of a fermented cod liver oil / high vitamin butter oil blend daily.  My husband and I take it off the spoon, and chase it with a big gulp of water or herbal tea.   Our son takes 1 capsule of fermented cod liver oil / high vitamin butter oil daily.
  • Where to buy it: You can buy it online (see sources).

Dessicated Liver Capsules

Liver and other offal were prized among traditional peoples who enjoyed resilient health; however, they’re not too friendly to most modern tastebuds.  And while I try to serve my family organ meats at least once or twice a week , it doesn’t always come together.  Still, we don’t want to miss the many nutritional benefits of liver so we consumed dessicated liver capsules daily.  Liver is extraordinarily rich in vitamins – particularly vitamin A, vitamin B12 and folate.  It is also a good source of trace minerals and co-enzyme Q10 which is traditionally thought to support cardiovascular health.  Co-enzyme Q10 is also a potent antioxidant and researchers are now examining the link between co-enzyme Q10, oxidative stress and life span.  Heart and liver are the most concentrated sources of co-enzyme Q10; however, if heart and liver don’t make it to your dinner table too often, you might consider supplementing with dessicated liver capsules.  They’re easy to take, and as a food, they contain all the benefits of liver without the flavor.  Which is not to say, of course, that you should skip organ meats and rely fully on dessicated liver capsules; rather, consider them an insurance policy – a little nutritional boost to start your day.

What’s in dessicated liver capsules?

  • Vitamins: A, B3, B5, Folate, Choline, Betaine, B12.
  • Minerals: Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Selenium.

How to take it and where to buy it:

  • How to take it: My husband and I consume three capsules daily; our son consumes two capsules.  Six capsules equate to one ounce of liver.  If you do not routinely consume organ meats and offal, you might consider taking the full dose.
  • Where to buy it: You can buy it online (see sources).

Therapeutic-grade Probiotics

We also consume a therapeutic-grade probiotic at every meal in addition to our regular retinue of fermented foods.  Health begins in the gut and probiotics help to build a healthy array of intestinal flora which then help us to make and absorb vitamins, train the immune system and build immunity.  Further, probiotics help to boost the body’s detoxification process.  We typically take Bio-kult which contains 14 species of beneficial bacteria and about two billion active probiotics in each capsule, but any therapeutic-grade probiotic with a similar array and concentration of beneficial bacteria should work.  Probiotics are valuable to anyone whose normal and healthy intestinal flora have been compromised – usually by formula feeding during infancy, antibiotic use or the use of other pharmaceuticals like the birth control (in effect, almost all of us).  Probiotic supplements in conjunction with fermented foods and a healing dietary protocol of whole foods can help to restore the body’s natural balance.

What’s in therapeutic-grade probiotics?

  • Other Goodies: Beneficial bacteria – and lots of ‘em.

How to take it and where to buy it:

  • How we take it: My husband and I consume one capsule each at breakfast and at dinner, and our son consumes one capsule at breakfast.
  • Where to buy it: While I’ve found many, many probiotic supplements at my local health food and vitamin stores, they are not typically therapeutic-grade probiotic supplements.  I purchase my probiotic supplements online (see sources).

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What people are saying

  1. Amanda says

    Thank you for posting about this! I found this article from linking from your Real Food Budget. Both very helpful! We take all of those you mentioned and I was beginning to feel guilty about the expense, but this just reassured me of the choices I’m making for our family! Love the blog!

    • Wendy says

      If you are looking for probiotics that align with Weston A. Price, RAW Probiotics by Garden of Life were formulated based on his principles. They are whole food strains from cultured yogurt and kefir. 30+ strains and high potency. Nothing synthetic.

  2. Erin F says

    Thanks so much for this information. I know it’s from a while ago, but I have a question. I’m going to be trying to get pregnant later this year and my midwife wants me to be on prenatal vitamins with DHA and Vitamin D3. It looks as though the fermented cod liver oil and high vitamin butter oil blends have most of what I need, but I don’t see Folic Acid. Do you know of a good (natural) way to get extra of this? I’m fairly new to whole foods and supplements, but we are trying to do everything we can for our health (and hopefully our child’s). Thanks for your advice.

    • Casey says

      I realize this is an old post but I wanted to answer the Folic Acid question for anyone else reading it late like myself. Folic Acid is the synthetic version of Folate, which is sometimes called Food Folate to help differentiate. Although you can get Folic Acid from enriched foods like cereal, it is NOT natural and is NOT the same thing as Folate. Folate is the true, naturally occurring version, and is used differently by the body than Folic Acid. Some whole food sources for Folate are liver, pastured egg yolks, leafy greens, and beans.

  3. says

    I totally agree that whole food supplements are better than vitamins. In my house we take a fruit & vegetable supplement. Again, made from whole foods, vine ripened fruits & vegetables, picked and made into powder form at the peak time to provide all the phytonutrients we need. Juice Plus has changed my life and my health. It bridges the gap in my diet to make up for what I am not feeding myself.

  4. Megyn says

    Echoing what a previous commenter asked, I would also like to hear what you have to say about prenatal vitamins. Hoping to be pregnant in the near future, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. While I believe that our nutrients should come from food, not vitamins, I’m also worried that I wouldn’t be disciplined enough, have the food budget, or even the knowledge to obtain all the critical nutrients necessary to support a growing baby through my diet alone. A prenatal vitamin would give me peace of mind about filling in any nutritional gaps I might be missing. I guess I’m kinda scared not to take one! I take cod liver oil/butter oil blend already, and I see that in conjunction with desiccated liver that alone would provide a lot of the nutrients I would need, but I’m also wondering about folic acid.

  5. Erin says

    Jenny, I would like to know what you think of Garden of Life supplements, as they are touted as being “whole-food” supplements? I also am veering away from the amount of supplements I take, but would like to know what you think of their probiotics. Thanks!!

  6. Laura says

    I also have questions regarding prenatal intake on the above. We just ordered some garden of life prenatal vitamins, and I also have the cod fish/oil blend, and also thier probiotics. But I’m worried I am not going to get all I need from just our food alone. What are your suggestions. Also, water keifer, & vilii yogert, and the strains it contains, I’m thinking those may be good things on the list to order while expecting? Thoughts?

  7. cheryl says

    What standards does a probiotic supplement need to meet in order to be considered a therapeutic-grade probiotic?

  8. Karina says

    I currently only take CFLO, but my OBGYN really wants me to be on folic acid in case of pregnancy. What do you think about folic acid?

  9. Kathy says

    Does the FCLO/High vitamin butter oil come as a blend, or do you blend them yourself, and if so, is it equal parts? I have only been able to find them sold seperatly.

  10. says

    Great list… we try to eat liver at least once a week, but like you it doesn’t always happen and I have been meaning to add the liver supplement to our diet.

    I’d like to add that I also take kelp capsules, which I also consider to be a good real food supplement. We don’t use iodized salt and, as much as we try, I know we don’t get enough ocean fish and seafood to meet our needs for iodine, plus kelp also contains a lot of trace minerals. It is fairly easy to work seaweed into the diet, but other than sea snacks (love those!) I don’t like or use much seaweed.

  11. sarah says

    Hi There,

    Do you know if the arachidonic acid that is normally found in liver still remains in the dessicated liver tablets? I am pregnant and have been concerned about the ratio while taking FCLO. ( I do now take it with high vitamin butter oil)

    Also, I’m now 29 weeks and experiencing major fatigue and lack of appetite as well as a few other symptoms and started to get curious about vitamin a toxicity. Any thoughts on this?

    Thanks!

    • Danielle says

      Hi, Yellow Dock is a safe herb to take while pregnant to help with aenemia/fatigue. It is rich in iron and it’s usually a portion of nearly every “pregnancy tonic”. You can purchase this in tincture form from nearly any herb supplier or quality health food shop.
      While calf’s liver remains an excellent rich source of folate, 1 cup of garbanzo beans supplies over 70% of the daily requirement. If you’re concerned about overdoing Vitamin A. Spinach supplies even more, although spinach is rather rich in Vitamin A too. It’s always best to boil spinach for around 4 minutes prior to eating rather than raw in a cold salad as raw, it’s acidic content will only make your lack of appetite worst.

  12. Danielle says

    Bee Pollen is another wonderful whole food “supplement” to include in your life, particularly during winter months. Then there are all of the the beneficial yeasts to take as needed like Engevita, which can be of most use to vegetarians (rich in B12 etc).

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