Superfood Spotlight: Cod Liver Oil's Benefits and Not-So-Fishy Origins

Superfood Spotlight: Cod Liver Oil's Benefits and Not-So-Fishy Origins

Cod liver oil is more than just a supplement harvested from heavy-bodied and large-headed Atlantic codfish. It’s a cultural icon, especially in the northern parts of Europe. Not only is it a notable delicacy but also a nutritionally dense superfood that can work wonders for your body.

In this piece, we’re going to talk about its rich history, how it’s made, and the health benefits of adding cod liver oil into your diet.

But before we go straight to the meat, let’s clear things up a bit.

Cod Liver Oil vs Fish Oil

It’s easy to mistake cod liver oil for fish oil. Although, technically, cod liver oil is a kind of fish oil since it’s harvested from Atlantic codfishes.

But what separates one from the other is the part of the fish from which the oil is extracted. Cod liver oil, as the name suggests, is extracted from the livers of freshly harvested codfishes from the Scandinavian waters.

Fish oil, on the other hand, is extracted from the fatty meats of several species like tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring and anchovies.

Now that we’ve settled that, let us now bore you with some history.

Age of the Vikings

The actual liver that’s pulled out from a fresh Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and the extracted oil from it were already considered a delicacy in Norse cuisine. Both are staple foods even before people discovered their healing powers.

In the late 700s to 1100, the cod liver was mostly consumed during the winter months as this the fishing season in the Scandinavian region. You could say that the whole liver dipped in cod liver oil was their ultimate comfort food.

During the same era, the only method of extracting cod liver oil was by steaming the fish liver. And here’s how they did it:

a) A large pan with water is brought to a boil.

b) Pieces of birch tree wood are placed on top of that pan then the liver is placed on top of those woods.

c) The rising steam from the water cooks the cod liver, and its natural oils start to drip into the water.

d) These pale-yellow oil extracts are skimmed off the water.

e) This process is just repeated to obtain the amount of fish oil needed.

Aside from being a delectable delicacy (at least for the Vikings’ taste), cod liver oil had many other uses. It was used as fuel for lamps, tanning leather, soap production, paint and other industrial applications.

Unbeknownst to many, cod liver oil was also a fisherman’s friend. The Vikings used it as a cure, not for seasickness but joint and muscle pains. They simply rubbed the oil on the affected area whenever they felt their joints flaring up, especially during a voyage. 

Highly valued for its many applications, the Vikings considered the cod liver oil as their own “Gold of the Ocean.”

Cod Liver Oil as a Prescription Medicine

It was not until the 18th century that cod liver oil was widely used as prescription medicine, specifically for rheumatism, gout, and rickets. Once a handy fisherman’s friend, a bottle of cod liver oil had transformed into a go-to medicine that people ingested to treat such conditions.

What’s amazing is that during this era, the main nutritional components of the cod liver oil, namely, Vitamin A, D, and omega fatty acids were not even discovered yet. People were clueless about what kind of healing powers a bottle of cod liver oil possessed. But it seemed to work for a lot of patients, so people simply continued using this medicinal wonder.

But due to advancements in technology, scientists were able to figure out the nutritional content of cod liver oil later on.

The Cod Liver Oil We Know and Love Today

For many years, the Viking way of extracting the oil from the cod liver was the only acceptable method. Even though the process often compromised the taste and left putrid liver residues in the oil.

Many have attempted to develop their own methods to try to extract the purest form of the cod liver oil. But only a few succeeded. One of them is a Norwegian man named Peter Moller.

In the 1850s, he developed a process similar to the Viking method. He steamed the cod livers at a low temperature. He used very low steam heat to slowly separate the oil from the liver, keeping the integrity of the omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients.

Another method is the patented Rosita method which produces the Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil that we offer here in Superfoods Australia. Here’s how they are made:

a) After harvesting the livers from the codfishes, they are immediately submerged in icy cold water.

b) The freshly harvested liver will then undergo a change in the temperature—from icy cold to room temperature. This sudden shift extracts the oil from the liver naturally.

c) The extracted oil is filtered immediately after the release.

d) A few drops of natural antioxidants are added before transferring them to amber-coloured glass bottles.

e) To keep the unmatched sea-to-bottle freshness, sample batches of the cod liver oil are tested to meet the strict European standards for potency and purity.

Health Benefits of Cod Liver Oil

We’ve touched on some of the benefits of Cod Liver Oil, but now, we’re going to take a deep dive!

1. Cod liver oil helps reduce inflammation

Although inflammation is our body’s natural response to infections and injuries, it can be harmful in some cases. Especially if the inflammation doesn’t heal for a long period.

Cod liver oil is rich in fatty acids like omega-3 and vitamins like A and D which can aid your body in reducing chronic inflammation and flushing out free radicals that can damage the body.

2. Omega-3 in cod liver oil promotes a healthy heart

Studies have shown that regularly eating fish may reduce your risk of getting heart disease. That’s mainly because of the omega-3 fatty acids found in most kinds of seafood.

One teaspoon of cod liver oil contains 890 mg of omega-3. This nutritional compound can do several wonders to your heart health. That includes:

a) Increasing HDL cholesterol to lower the risk of heart disease

b) Lowering your blood pressure

c) Preventing plaque formation in arteries

3. Vitamin D in cod liver oil improves bone health

By the time we reach the age of 30, we start to lose our bone mass. Once this happens, we, especially women after menopause, become more prone to bone fractures. That’s why we must keep our bones strong.

Cod liver oil is a great source of Vitamin D, necessary for reducing the risk of bone-related diseases. Vitamin D helps our body absorb more calcium which fortifies the bones.

Cod liver oil can also help ease the joint and muscle pains of those suffering from rheumatism and arthritis. This is mainly because of the inflammation-reducing power of the omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil.

4. Vitamin A in cod liver oil keeps your eyes in tiptop shape

Age is also one of the culprits of vision loss. Older people are more prone to eye diseases like glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration or AMD. But it’s not impossible to prevent or treat.

In several studies, Vitamin A and omega-3 have shown convincing results when it comes to protecting the eye from diseases caused by inflammation like glaucoma, nerve damage, eye pressure and AMD.

5. Cod liver oil is a brain food

There are many claims to how cod liver oil impacts our brain health. Some say it can improve your memory, can liven up your mood, and improve the symptoms of anxiety.

While there are still some studies needed to back those claims up, one thing is for sure: cod liver oil can potentially be great brain food. Vitamin D, cod fish oil’s main component, is a key player in neurodevelopment and maintaining proper brain function.

Add Some Cod Liver Oil to Your Stash

Well, now that you’ve reached this section, why not grab some cod liver oil on your way out?

We offer Rosita Cod Liver Oil, which is one of the world’s purest fish oil. It’s extracted from freshly caught codfishes in the pristine waters of Norway. No heat or any chemicals are used in the process, so you’re assured of quality and freshness.

If you’re not a fan of the taste and texture of cod liver oils, a bottle of Rosita Extra Virgin Cod Liver Oil Softgels is the best bet for you. They’re easier to ingest, but you still get the same pure cod liver oil goodness.

Order them here at Superfoods Australia, and we’ll deliver them straight to your doorstep. The shipping fee is on us for orders above $100! For smoother and faster transactions, use Afterpay and ZipPay when you check out.