By Tom, on September 6th, 2012
Fish oil has come into a bit of a renaissance in the last few years. I talked about krill oil being a better alternative a couple weeks back. But, your everyday fish or krill oil pales in nutritional comparison to its ancestral roots. This is because up until relatively recently the only fish oil on the market was cod liver oil. And that cod liver oil was fermented rather than rendered as it is almost exclusively today.
An Atlantic Cod
Around 1850 A.D., industry took over the manufacture of cod oil. It was faster and easier to make cod oil by rendering the skin rather than the old fashioned way, fermenting the offal. It used to be that fishmongers would make the cod liver oil —a cure all in its day— by taking all the livers of the weeks catch of cod, placing them in a barrel and letting them ferment for 6 months.
Beneficial bacteria broke down the livers and let the oil flow free. Enzymes broke down vitamins and minerals into more easily digestible forms. The oil smelled fishy, tasted awful, and was incredibly nutritious. But, industry stepped in. They decided that fermenting took too long. They found a quicker, more profitable way to manufacture the stuff that turned it from the cure all it was into more of a snake oil. The heat they used to extract the oil destroyed nearly all the health benefits.
But, there is a company bringing the old ways back. And people are rediscovering the health benefits of fermented cod liver oil. Here’s a quick overview of some of the benefits over rendered fish oil:
- It’s densely packed with Vitamin D. Just ½ teaspoon has twice the RDA and, since it’s been made so absorbable by the fermentation process, it increases blood serum levels of Vitamin D by more than a 7000 IU synthetic supplement.
- There is a very high density of other vitamins too. Vitamin A, E, K, Selenium, iodine and a ton of other minerals. And if you are worried about mercury in the oil, selenium actually helps your body control mercury levels.
- Omega-3 DHA and EPA are still high in regular fish oil, but are their only marketable trait. Fermented cod liver oil has this and so many other things going for it.
Some more information on Fermented Cod Liver Oil:
Interview with the recreator of FCLO
Kitchen Stewardship: Our Experience With Cod Liver Oil
The only current maker of Fermented Cod Liver Oil