Everyone and their mother has heard about the benefits of fish oil supplements; omega-3 fatty acids are important to decrease inflammation among other things, and DHA/EPA are essential during pregnancy for brain development in the fetus. But, new studies are showing that isolated polyunsaturated fatty acid/omega-3 rich fish oil, may not be the best form to take this supplement.
Fermented cod-liver oil (FCLO) is whole-food alternative to fish oil supplements. It is a cold-processed oil that is made from the livers of cod fish. Through the process of fermentation, the fat-soluble vitamins (A,D, and K2) and polyunsaturated fatty acid (omega3/EPA/DHA) content of the oil is removed without being damaged.
You might wonder why the oil needs to be fermented – since we usually hear that heat is damaging to delicate nutrients, it would seem that just being cold-processed would give enough protection. However, synthetic chemical breakdown of nutrients is equally as damaging. Fermentation (enzymatic breakdown) and digestion are the safest and most efficient way to reduce large molecular structures found in foods to break them down to their end-usable constituents. When molecules are broken down by digestion or fermentation, they are broken down in a right-handed manner, which is a form that our body is most able to utilize. However, when molecules arebroken down by other methods like heat, half of the molecules break in a left-handed manner, which is not easily utilized in the body, and may actually be toxic.
While it is true that cod liver oil does not contain as much DHA/EPA as fish oil, it should be though of as more of a concentrated superfood, rather than an isolated nutrient like fish oil. The superfood is a whole-food that contains healthy ratios of fat soluble vitamins,, omega-3’s. coenzyme Q-10 and various quinones that are naturally occurring in nature. This wonderful supplement boosts immune function, lowers inflammation, and protects the heart and eyes, and improves glucose tolerance. However, if these aren’t enough reasons to convince you to trade in FCLO for your daily fish oil due to the lower DHA/EPA content, you can take a fermented skate liver oil supplement, which has larger concentrations of DHA/EPA.