History

What kind of cod liver oil did Dr. Weston A. Price recommend?

By Dan Corrigan   ∙   June 23, 2020   ∙   0 Comments
Weston A. Price

Caught from small fishing boats, fresh, cold-pressed and light-colored “shore oil”

Weston A. Price, DDS, traveled the world in the 1930s, searching out Indigenous Peoples who maintained their traditional diets and comparing their health with those who had been exposed to modern, processed foods. Without exception, the groups who maintained their traditional diets were healthier than their modernized counterparts. One of Dr. Price’s essential findings was that traditional diets contained much higher vitamin A and D than the modern diets of the U.S. and Europe. To address the shortcomings of contemporary diets, he recommended nutritional supplementation with cod liver oil, as well as avoidance of processed foods.*

Dr. Price’s archives on cod liver oil unveiled

Price-Pottenger (formerly known as the Weston A. Price Memorial Foundation) maintains the entire library of Dr. Weston A. Price's work. In 2015, researchers at Price-Pottenger delved into the archives of Dr. Price and pored through hundreds of his photos, manuscripts, papers and notes to discover the cod liver oil that he used and considered to be “excellent.” This invaluable information from one of America’s greatest nutrition pioneers had been hidden for decades, but is now available for the very first time.

The researchers found that Dr. Price considered a brand at the time that has since closed (Squibb) to be “excellent” cod liver oil. This brand described its oil as “cold pressed shore oil” in 1919 and “Norwegian cold pressed” in 1921. In making shore oil, the fish were caught by small boats near the shore and brought in the same day; the livers were then frozen and the oil pressed out.

After extraction, the oil was kept in airtight containers and away from sunlight. The description made a clear distinction between the darker “banks oil,” from livers allowed to decompose in barrels on larger boats that remained at sea for several days, and the “cold-pressed shore” cod liver oil — the lighter oil made from fresh livers. This light oil is what Dr. Price called “excellent oil.”

Cod liver oil can both heal and harm

Dr. Weston A. Price conducted numerous animal studies with cod liver oil. According to Price- Pottenger, the results showed that some types of the oil were very beneficial to immunity and proper physical and mental development, particularly regarding phosphorus and calcium metabolism regulation (positively affecting bone, dental, blood and brain health).* Yet he was careful to note, “some dangers that are not usually recognized or properly emphasized in the literature.”

“Freshness and storage of the oil is important,” Dr. Price continued. “Even though an oil may have vitamin content, if it is oxidized or rancid, it will not have the desired effects. The available evidence indicates that fish oils, including cod liver oil, that have been exposed to the air may develop toxic substances.…rancid fats and oils destroy vitamins A and E.”

Despite these cautions, Dr. Price believed in the value of cod liver oil. He described numerous examples of its healing properties and assured that “cod-liver oil can be given in moderate doses without injury and to great advantage.”* The key was to obtain fresh cod liver oil and to store it properly.

Read the entire Price-Pottenger research paper here: "Cod Liver Oil: A Historical Perspective."

FAQs on cod liver oil

Q: What is Price-Pottenger?

Price-Pottenger is the original non-profit organization dedicated to Dr. Weston A Price's work. Established in 1952 (four years after the death of Dr. Price), it was originally known as the Weston A Price Memorial Foundation.

Price-Pottenger’s mission today is to educate people on the remarkable benefits of a natural plant and animal-based diet and inspire a healthy lifestyle. You can visit their website at www.price-pottenger.org to find out more about this highly-respected, California-based organization.

Q: Didn’t Dr. Weston A Price recommend fermented cod liver oil?

A: No. According to the archives, Dr. Price preferred and prescribed the freshest cod liver oil available at the time. He pointedly avoided brown oils.

Q: What does “high vitamin cod liver oil” mean?

A: When Dr. Price referred to “high vitamin” cod liver oil, he was simply referring to cod liver oil with vitamin levels near the upper end of the natural range of vitamin A (2,500 to 3,500 IU per teaspoon) and vitamin D (250 to 350 IU per teaspoon). In modern times, “high vitamin” refers to cod liver oil that has been fortified with synthetic vitamin A and/or vitamin D to higher levels than occur naturally.

Most holistically-mind people want to avoid synthetic vitamins, especially high doses. Yet they’re unwittingly consuming synthetic vitamins when they take most cod liver oil on the market, as this fortification isn’t noted on the labels.

Q: Why did Dr. Price warn against some types of “high vitamin” cod liver oil?

A: Dr. Price understood that rancid cod liver oil can contain vitamins. So while the vitamins may have some short-term benefit, the rancid factors can have long-term, damaging health consequences. This is why Dr. Price considered the fresh “pale” oil as “excellent.”

Q: Where can I find cod liver oil that aligns with Price’s recommendation and criteria?

A: Price lauded Squibb, which was the best available during his time. In 1989, Squibb merged with Bristol-Myers, forming Bristol-Myers Squibb, a large pharmaceutical conglomerate. Eventually, Squibb Cod Liver Oil was shelved in favor of easy-to-produce and more profitable synthetic drugs.

In 2014, Rosita Real Foods of Norway developed a cod liver oil using old extraction methods coupled with modern technology in the areas of natural antioxidants and oxygen-free bottling. The all-natural, pale oil stays fresher for longer periods than the Squibb cod liver oil Dr. Price deemed “excellent.”

Q: Why does Rosita add antioxidants but Squibb did not?

A: Squibb recognized the importance of protecting fresh cod liver oil from moisture, oxygen and light. But there was not much scientific knowledge about antioxidants in the early 1900s. Now, we know that antioxidants can prolong the freshness of the cod liver oil from a few days to months. Rosita was emphatic the antioxidant package used to produce its Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil be made of only natural products (rosemary herb and vitamin E).

Q: Don’t all cod liver oil brands contain natural vitamins?

A: No. The vast majority of the cod liver oils on the market today are molecularly distilled, a high-heat process used by most major brands that destroys more than half of the naturally occurring vitamin A and all of the vitamin D. Distillation is akin to boiling the oil,  just like water is distilled. Except that the boiling point of cod liver oil is more than 390℉. In most cases, the denatured oil is fortified with synthetic vitamins A and D. Anytime a cod liver oil producer states its oil has been molecularly distilled and indicates normal levels of vitamin A and D, you can be assured synthetic vitamins have been added.

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