TMKW: Grandma knew best

Cod liver oil is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins A and D, DHA and EPA fatty acids, and Omega 6. All are essential for brain health, physical endurance and a vibrant immune system. Photo by Davina Weinhold

What do your Grandma, the Vikings and the Roman army have in common?

Yes, they were all mighty warriors. But they also understood the benefits of taking cod liver oil.

Roman soldiers accredited their strength and endurance to the daily consumption of fermented fish liver oil. Each soldier received a daily ration of oil. The Roman aristocracy paid exorbitant prices for it, while the lower classes ate fermented fish in their porridge to receive the same benefits.

Every Viking household had a barrel of cod livers in sea water fermenting outside their front door. As they came and went, they ate a spoonful of oil. It was an essential part of their diet.

Grandma had a bottle of cod liver oil in her cabinet, and gave (force-fed) your parents a spoonful of it every day.

So why the big to-do? What did Grandma, the Vikings and the Romans know that weve forgotten?

Cod liver oil is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins A and D, DHA and EPA fatty acids, and Omega 6. All are essential for brain health, physical endurance and a vibrant immune system.

Not all cod liver oils are created equal. Many commercially made oils lose their omegas, vitamins and antioxidants during chemical extraction processes. The manufacturer then adds essential fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants back in to compensate for the loss. But its hard to piece molecular structures back together, and the resulting product is inferior.

The best cod liver oil is made the way the Vikings did, without chemicals or high heat extraction processes. Cod livers are fermented and then cold-pressed to remove the liver oils.

I buy cod liver oil from Green Pasture (www.greenpasture.org). Every evening my son and husband take a spoonful of cinnamon flavored cod liver oil. Green Pasture also has mint and orange flavored oil. They really help to cover the fishy flavor. But I wont lie, its still not pleasant. Just manageable. It tastes much better than the unflavored cod liver oil Grandma had, though.

Grandma knew the physical and mental benefits from cod liver oil far outweighed the nasty flavor. Somewhere in the past few decades, we traded in these fishy benefits for lab-produced vitamins. But they just dont compare. Grandma knew best.