the history of cod liver

Cod liver oil is recognized as being the first immune system-supporting dietary supplement. It helps to maintain people’s vitamin D levels, particularly during winter months when vitamin D intake from sunlight is limited.

the gold of the ocean

Using fish liver for medicinal purposes has been practiced all over the world for centuries. The Greek philosopher, Hippocrates, also known as the «Father of Medicine,» frequently wrote about the benefits of using dolphin liver oil to treat skin conditions. The Vikings treasured the healing powers of fish liver oil so much that they referred to it as the «Gold of the Ocean.»

  • Cod liver oil has been prominent in Northern European folk medicine for centuries. By 1782, physicians were prescribing cod liver oil to treat rheumatism.
  • While using cod liver oil to treat sores and burns, renowned surgeon M.B. Daver observed a peculiar characteristic. Refined cod liver oil was not having the same beneficial effects on patients as the unrefined oil. He concluded that some of cod liver oil’s healing properties get weakened or removed during the refining process.

lofoten fishing grounds

The Lofoten region provides one of the most significant cod habitats and breeding grounds in the world. Cod have been migrating to this area for centuries, and the local fishing communities have become experts in catching cod at the best time to ensure the best quality of liver and oils.

This centuries-old practice has helped Norway grow not only as an expert fishing industry but develop as a nation. Revenues from the Lofoten fishing industry helped build the city of Bergen and the Nidaros Cathedral. At its height, Norway’s fishing industry accounted for around 80% of its exports and employed more than 30,000 workers. Today, much of the Norwegian population have family ties to the Lofoten fishing grounds.

Author: Bjørn Tore Pedersen, Lofotfisket (Book)

Throughout the 19th century, the popularity of cod liver oil increased. It was used widely to treat joint and muscle pain, rickets, skin wounds, and tuberculosis. Today, cod liver oil is a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approved dietary supplement. It is particularly beneficial in providing healthy fatty acids, as many people do not consume enough in their regular diet.