In the past I have written about the benefits of fish oil as a supplement for just about everyone. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are a currently darling of holistic medicine and for good reason – touted for their ability to reduce inflammation in all the cells throughout our body, omega-3 fatty acids (in correct ratio to the more commonly consumed omega 6′s) can aid in preventing, reducing, and reversing all sorts of ailments from heart disease to eczema, attention deficit disorders to respiratory conditions.
Among Weston Price Foundation advocates and other Real foodies, however, the recommended fish oil is fermented cod liver oil (which you will often see abbreviated as ‘FCLO’). To be honest, when I first learned about FCLO, I was skeptical – mostly because this stuff tastes horrific. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably also thinks childbirth is not painful and root canals are fun – not impossible, but not probable either.
In our next two posts, we will discuss dosages and how you – and even your picky kids – can get this stuff down with ease. But for now, let’s get clear on why to bother taking fermented cod liver oil…
Benefits of Fermented Cod Liver Oil
So we know that fish oil is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, and you can read all about the benefits of omega 3s here.
Cod liver oil has the added benefits of being naturally rich in the fat soluble vitamins D and A. As a culture, we are notoriously low in vitamin D which is contributing to numerous problems from weak immune systems to hormone imbalances. (Read more about vitamin D here). The problem is, however, that most cod liver oil (and other fish oils) is heat treated which destroys much of the naturally occurring vitamins. These cod liver oils have their vitamins A and D added back in. The main issue with this, is that the vitamins A and D are not longer in the proper proportion – leading to risk of possible vitamin A toxicity when taken in large doses. You can read everything you need to know about Vitamin A toxicity here.
Enter fermented cod liver oil – Because the oils of FCLO are extracted without heat and preserved through a slow lacto-fermentation, the naturally occurring vitamins and goodness are retained. This is evident by the deep rich color of FCLO as opposed to the pale yellow of conventional cod liver oil. This means that fermented cod liver oil contains the proper ratio of the essential fat soluble vitamins A and D – two nutrients that cannot be obtained through vegetable sources.
Futhermore, because FCLO is a fermented food, the body can assimilate its nutrients with more ease and efficacy.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil is a Traditional Superfood
Here’s an interesting quote in this post by Cheeseslave from Dave Wetzel maker of Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil:
Fish oils have historically been fermented for extraction; back in the Roman empire days, Viking era and all the way up to the Mid 1850″²s. Rendering was introduced during the mid 1850″²s as a more efficient fish liver processing method. The livers yielded a much higher total oil volume and the process could be accomplished in several hours rather than several months. What they did not understand is the effects that heat had on the nutrients (their science was not ready to address this question). As with all industrial models, the focus was on: profitability, speed or turns and, marketability (taste).
In summary, fermented cod liver oil is a traditional super food that is prepared by old-fashioned methods that preserve the maximum nutritional benefit. FCLO provides much needed omega 3s, and vitamin A and D in proper proportions – certainly worth taking on a regular basis.
In our upcoming discussions about fermented cod liver oil, I will discuss how to determine the proper dosage and how to get this stuff down with a smile on your face. Have more questions about this super food? Ask them below!