Category Archives: Cod Liver Oil

Marine Liver Oils used as early as 73 AD as a remedy for illnesses

Historical records show us that marine liver oils have been used by cultures ranging from the South Seas, the Eskimos, and the Scandinavians to the ancient Romans. One of the earliest records shows its use as a cure for leprosy as early as 73 AD and in the work of Hippocrates.

For centuries, cod liver oil was mostly used as a topical treatment or balm for its general medicinal and strengthening properties. But in the Manchester Infirmary in 1766, it was shown to be a curative for rheumatism when ingested, after which it became a well known medicine. In 1841, the British physician, John Bennett wrote a treatise on cod liver oil and it’s use in healing Scrofula–a tuberculosis of the skin. Bennett noted that when people had one disease like tuberculosis they also had another like rickets–indicating a vitamin D deficiency.

Research between 1920 and 1940 began its wide use for preventing and treating measles, industrial absenteeism and puerperal fever. However, with the dawn of penicillin in the 1930s and 40s, came massive support for antibiotics (anti-life) and sulfa drugs and the pharmaceutical industry was born. Instead of focusing on building immunity with nutrition, we began an arms race against germs, trying to stay two jumps ahead of bacteria.

Today, as we are seeing the poor results of the “killing bacteria” approach, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in building immunity with nutrient-dense foods and cod liver oil is becoming again an important part of  this health-building plan.

The beauty of a high quality cod liver oil is that it contains both vitamin A and D in the best ratio–which is a 10 to 1 relationship. Vitamin A  is necessary for mineral metabolism, strong bones, immunity, normal growth, successful reproduction, healthy skin and good eyesight.Vitamin D is necessary for mineral metabolism, nervous system function, insulin production, immunity and protection against depression.

Commercial  cod liver oil has been over processed and will not provide healing qualities that were seen historically, but fermented cod liver oil, made the old fashioned way, is now available thanks to the work of David Wetzel: here on Amazon as relatively inexpensive capsules. Along with cod liver oil, Dr. Price found that it was very important to have adequate traditional saturated fats in the diet. Price also developed high-vitamin butter oil to use in conjunction with cod liver oil as a powerful combination for the prevention and healing of cavities and a high immunity to disease. If you want to obtain your daily fermented cod liver oil and high-vitamin butter oil *together* as a tasty chocolate gel then click here to purchase on Amazon. These are purchases which will change your life. Visit for more information on these life-giving products.

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods, see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Fish Oil vs. Cod-Liver Oil

Many people today are getting extra omega-3 fatty acids in their diet with fish oil. Omega-3s have decreased in our diets today largely because of vegetable oils and corn-feeding of our livestock. From beef to chicken and now, even our farm-raised fish, unless a person chooses to get their food from a farm co-op that pastures their animals, foods that used to have a balance of omega-3 to -6 fatty acids are now overabundant in omega-6. In fact, because of today’s foods, omega-6 fatty acids can dominate omega-3 fatty acids by as much as between 20 to 1 or 30 to 1! (Another important reason to purchase pastured foods.)

An overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids can sometimes be a factor in inflammation as it may cause an imbalance in the production of important hormones called prostaglandins. Because of this, many people turn to omega-3-rich fish oil supplements like salmon oil. These are beneficial, but when you take a high quality cod-liver oil you will not only get the omega-3 fatty acids, but you will also get both vitamins A and D, which are critical to nutrient absorption. Dr. Weston A. Price’s research of healthy populations worldwide found that these cultures consumed 10 times the amount of vitamin A and D compared to diets of his patients in the US–in the 1930s! So that figure now would be much higher today considering how depleted our food supply has become.

Unfortunately, commercial cod liver oil is not the  always the best choice, as the natural vitamin A and D has been removed in processing and a synthetic version of these vitamins is put back. The Weston A. Price Foundation recommends fermented cod liver oil from as an excellent choice for this supplement. It is the only cod liver oil in the world that is  made in a traditional way. It is also much more dense in vitamin A and D than commercial brands so the dose is much smaller.

Cod liver oil has been recorded as being an elixir for good health by cultures all over the world as far back as in the Roman empire. Even your great-grandmother took cod liver oil! So take your cod liver oil!! And while you are at it, take it with high-vitamin butter oil, which was Dr. Price’s prescription for healing (also available at

For more information on building health and healing with nutrient-dense foods see Performance without Pain and our new e-book on healing acid reflux.

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Vitamin K-2–found in foods from pastured animals–is critical for proper calcium absorption and deposition.

Today we are seeing an exponential increase in health conditions like osteoporosis and atherosclerosis that are caused by poor calcium absorption or calcium going in the wrong places in the body–like in the arteries and organs and not in the teeth and bones.  This is partly due to a deficiency of foods that contain both vitamin A and D and also vitamin K-2, which is found abundantly in foods from pastured animals like raw butter and cheese. This vitamin works with vitamin A and D to promote the  proper deposition of calcium. Historically, when people consumed foods from naturally raised animals, these deficiencies were not seen. Dr. Price called this special vitamin “activator X’ as it worked as a “mortar” for the building blocks of vitamin A and D foods like cod liver oil to create the correct genetic expression of the skeletal structure. Here is an excerpt from the Weston A. Price Foundation website that further explains this principal:

In 1945, Dr. Weston Price described “a new vitamin-like activator” that played an influential role in the utilization of minerals, protection from tooth decay, growth and development, reproduction, protection against heart disease and the function of the brain.

Using a chemical test, he determined that this compound—which he called Activator X—occurred in the butterfat, organs and fat of animals consuming rapidly growing green grass, and also in certain sea foods such as fish eggs.

Dr. Price died before research by Russian scientists became known in the West. These scientists used the same chemical test to measure a compound similar to vitamin K.

Vitamin K2 is produced by animal tissues, including the mammary glands, from vitamin K1, which occurs in rapidly growing green plants.

A growing body of published research confirms Dr. Price’s discoveries, namely that vitamin K2 is important for the utilization of minerals, protects against tooth decay, supports growth and development, is involved in normal reproduction, protects against calcification of the arteries leading to heart disease, and is a major component of the brain.

Vitamin K2 works synergistically with the two other “fat-soluble activators” that Price studied, vitamins A and D. Vitamins A and D signal to the cells to produce certain proteins and vitamin K then activates these proteins.

Vitamin K2 plays a crucial role in the development of the facial bones, and its presence in the diets of non-industrialized peoples explains the wide facial structure and freedom from dental deformities that Weston Price observed.

By eating traditional foods from pastured animals, you can help protect yourself from common degenerative conditions. For more information on traditional diets, see our book at

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Can the Body Convert Beta Carotene in Vegees to Vitamin A?

We have discussed the critical importance  of the vitamins A and D from natural sources. Dr. Weston A. Price found that without adequate amounts of these nutrients you could not absorb the nutrients from your foods no matter how good the diet. The best sources of these vitamins are from Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil, pastured animal foods like egg yolks, liver, butter, lard and from fish eggs. Healthy cultures consumed these foods liberally and yet today we are told to avoid most of these because of their cholesterol levels.

But what about getting vitamin A from the beta-carotene in vegetables? The following article by Sally Fallon discusses this issue.

Vitamin A Vagary

by Sally Fallon

This article has since been expanded and updated on the Weston A Price Foundation site as Vitamin A Saga

“Eat carrots for vitamin A.” Such statements, found in many popular diet and nutrition books, create the impression that the body’s requirements for this essential nutrient can be exclusively met with plant foods like carrots, squash, green leafy vegetables and orange colored fruits. The low fat school of nutrition benefits greatly from the fact that the public has only vague notions about vitamin A; for the family of water-soluble nutrients called carotenes are not true vitamin A, but are more accurately termed provitamin A. True vitamin A, or retinol, is found only in animal products like cod liver oil, liver and other organ meats, fish, shell fish and butterfat from cows eating green grass.

Under optimal conditions, humans convert carotenes to vitamin A in the upper intestinal tract by the action of bile salts and fat-splitting enzymes. Of the entire family of carotenes, beta-carotene is most easily converted to vitamin A. Early studies indicated an equivalency of 4:1 of beta-carotene to retinol. In other words, four units of beta-carotene were needed to produce one unit of vitamin A. This ratio was later revised to 6:1 and recent research suggests an even higher ratio.1 This means that you have to eat an awful lot of vegetables and fruits to obtain even the daily minimal requirements of vitamin A, assuming optimal conversion.

But the transformation of carotene to retinol is rarely optimal. Diabetics and those with poor thyroid function, a group that includes at least half the adult US population, cannot make the conversion. Children make the conversion very poorly and infants not at all —they must obtain their precious stores of vitamin A from animal fats —yet the low-fat diet is often recommended for children.2 Strenuous physical exercise, excessive consumption of alcohol, excessive consumption of iron (especially from “fortified” white flour and breakfast cereal), use of a number of popular drugs, excessive consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids, zinc deficiency and even cold weather can hinder the conversion of carotenes to vitamin A3, as does the low-fat diet.

Carotenes are converted by the action of bile salts, and very little bile reaches the intestine when a meal is low in fat. The epicure who puts butter on his vegetables and adds cream to his vegetable soup is wiser than he knows. Butterfat stimulates the secretion of bile needed to convert carotenes from vegetables into vitamin A and at the same time, supplies very easily absorbed true vitamin A. Polyunsaturated oils also stimulate the secretion of bile salts but can cause rapid destruction of carotene unless antioxidants are present.

It is very unwise, therefore, to depend on plant sources for vitamin A. This vital nutrient is needed for the growth and repair of body tissues; it helps protect mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs; it prompts the secretion of gastric juices necessary for proper digestion of protein; it helps to build strong bones and teeth and rich blood; it is essential for good eyesight; it aids in the production of RNA; and contributes to the health of the immune system. Vitamin A deficiency in pregnant mothers results in offspring with eye defects, displaced kidneys, harelip, cleft palate and abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels.

Nutrition pioneer Weston Price considered the fat soluble vitamins, especially vitamin A, to be the catalysts on which all other biological processes depend. Efficient mineral uptake and utilization of water-soluble vitamins require sufficient vitamin A in the diet. His research demonstrated that generous amounts of vitamin A insure healthy reproduction and offspring with attractive wide faces, straight teeth and strong sturdy bodies. He discovered that healthy primitives especially value vitamin-A-rich foods for growing children and pregnant mothers. Working in the 1930’s, he found that their diets contained ten times more vitamin A than the typical American diet of the time. This disparity is almost certainly greater today as Americans have forsworn butter and cod liver oil for foods based on polyunsaturated oils.

In third world communities that have come into contact with the West, vitamin A deficiencies are widespread and contribute to high infant mortality, blindness, stunting, bone deformities and susceptibility to infection.4 These occur even in communities that have access to plentiful carotenes in vegetables and fruits. Scarcity of good quality dairy products, a rejection of organ meats as old fashioned or unhealthful, and a substitution of vegetable oil for animal fat in cooking all contribute to the physical degeneration and suffering of third world peoples.

Supplies of vitamin A are so vital to human health that we are able to store large quantities of it in the liver and other organs. Thus it is possible to subsist on a diet low in animal fatfor a considerable period of time before overt symptoms of deficiency appear. But during times of stress, vitamin A stores are rapidly depleted. Strenuous physical exercise, periods of physical growth, pregnancy, lactation and infection are stresses that quickly deplete vitamin A stores. Children with measles rapidly use up vitamin A, often resulting in irreversible blindness. An interval of three years between pregnancies allows mothers to rebuild vitamin A stores so that subsequent children will not suffer diminished vitality.

One aspect of vitamin A that deserves more emphasis is its role in protein utilization. Kwashiorkor is as much a disease of vitamin A deficiency, leading to impaired protein absorption, as it is a result of absence of protein in the diet. High protein, lowfat diets in children induce rapid growth along with depletion of vitamin A supplies. The results —tall, myopic, lanky individuals with crowded teeth, and poor bone structure —are a fixture in America. Growing children actually benefit from a diet that contains more calories as fat than as protein.5 Such a diet, rich in vitamin A, will result in steady, even growth, a sturdy physique and high immunity to disease.

So it’s a bit embarrassing to the low-fat people, especially as the truth is beginning to come out, even in orthodox publications. A recent New York Times article noted that vitamin-A-rich foods like liver, egg yolk, cream and shellfish confer resistance to infectious diseases in children and prevent cancer in adults.6 A Washington Post article hailed vitamin A as “cheap and effective, with wonders still being (re)discovered,” noting that recent studies have found that vitamin A supplements help prevent infant mortality in third world counties, protect measles victims from severe complications and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV virus.7 The article lists butter, egg yolk and liver as important sources of vitamin A but claims, unfortunately, that carotenes from vegetables are “equally important.” So vagueness about vitamin A continues, even among science writers.

Those familiar with the work of nutrition pioneer Weston Price are not so easily fooled. They know that vitamin-A-rich foods like liver, eggs, and cod liver oil are vital to good health. If you–or your children–don’t like liver, eggs and cod liver oil, don’t despair. Studies show that the best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A is butterfat,8 a food relished by young and old alike. So use plenty of butter and cream from pasture-fed cows for good taste and wise nutritional practice.

Vitamin A Vagary was first published in the Price-Pottenger Health Journal. (619) 574-7763


1. Solomons, N.W., and Bulus, J., “Plant sources of provitamin A and human nutriture”, Nutrition Review, Springer Verlag New York, Inc., July 1993, v. 5 1, pp 199204.
2. Jennings, I.W., Vitamins in Endocrine Metabolism, Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, Illinois.
3. Dunne, Lavon J., Nutrition Almanac, Third Edition, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990.
4. Solomons, Op. Cit.
5. Personal communications, Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
6. Angler, Natalie, “Vitamins Win Support as Potent Agents of Health”, New York Times, March 10, 1992.
7. Brown, David, “It’s cheap and Effective, With Wonders Still Being (Re)discovered”, The Washington Post, November 7,1994.
8. Fraps, G.S., and Kermerer, A.R., “The relation of the Spectro Vitamin A and Carotene Content of Butter to its Vitamin A potency Measured by Biological Methods”, Texas Agricultural Bulletin, N.- 560, February 1938.

Sally Fallon M.A., food historian and nutrition journalist, combines extensive background in nutrition with training in French and Mediterranean cooking. She is the author of Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, a full spectrum nutritional cookbook with a startling message —animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the human diet, necessary for reproduction and normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels. Mrs. Fallon’s book also provides information the values of Real Milk products, both to the consumer and the conscientious farmer. She is President of the Weston A. Price Foundation and editor of Wise Traditions, the Foundation’s quarterly magazine.

To order Nourishing Traditions, call 877 707-1776 or visit New Trends Publishing.

A Campaign for Real Milk is a project of The Weston A. Price Foundation
PMB 106-380, 4200 Wisconsin Ave, NW, Washington DC 20016
Phone: (202) 363-4394 | Fax: (202) 363-4396 | Web:

For more information on healing and building health with nutrient-dense foods and seminars on this subject, see

Best in Health,

Kathryne Pirtle

Why are vitamin A and D from natural sources so important to good health?

There is so much information about this or that vitamin–but Dr. Weston A. Price’s pivotal research on the diets of healthy populations worldwide determined the critical importance of foods that contain ample vitamin A and D. He found that while the 14 healthy cultures that he studied had different diets, one common element were foods rich in these two nutrients. These cultures consumed more than 10 times the amount of vitamin A and D than people in the US–in 1930! And this level would be much higher today. Foods that are particularly dense in these nutrients are high quality fermented cod liver oil (see, egg yolks, liver and butter (from grass-fed animals) and fish eggs.

Dr. Price found that without adequate amounts of these two nutrients that a person could not absorb the other nutrients in the diet no matter how good the diet. In fact, he found that deficiencies in these vitamins caused noticeable genetic changes in the skeletal structure–a narrowing of the skull and face causing crooked and crowded teeth. We are seeing this narrowing in almost every child born today.

Vitamin A and D are the only vitamins that function as hormones. They help express the correct genetic material in the cells. When there is a deficiency, genetic changes can occur.

The best way to insure that your diet is rich in these fat-soluble vitamins is to eat traditional, nutrient-dense foods–foods from animals eating their natural diet.

For more information see

Best in health,

Kathryne Pirtle