One of the daily rituals that my siblings and I had to endure when we went visiting our grandparents was swallowing a capsule of Cod-Liver oil under the watchful eye of my grandfather. He had decided that it was good for us far before any doctor found out that the omega-3 fatty acids it contained excellent health benefits. A dish made of fish was on the menu at least once a day, as he insisted that it was good for the brain. It would have gladdened his heart, if he were still alive, to see that his opinion is now shared by leading medical researchers.
Let’s take a look at how this fish oil got into the human diet’s main stream. In the 17th century fish oil was considered a remedy for rheumatism. A German study of that time reported that patients who suffered from rickets, which is a rheumatic disease, were treated successfully for their ailment by using fish oil. The medical reason was discovered in an age later when fish oil was found to have high levels of Vitamin D whose deficiency causes rickets.
In the 18th century the smell and taste were improved thanks to the steam processing method. This increased the quality of the end product and succeeded in making it quite popular with the consumers. Of late fish oil has come to be accepted as a daily supplement in many countries. The true measure of its popularity can be gauged by the fact that during World War Two, when fishing business was disrupted and fish oil could not be locally produced, it was imported from Iceland. The babies born during this time might have been born in hardship but were extremely healthy.
Alzheimer’s can be combated effectively with fish oil was proved in a study by the Louisiana State University. The Orygen Study Centre of Melbourne has proved fish oil effective in handling schizophrenia cases. The American Heart Association and the Canadian Medical Association have heaped praises on it in their journals. If so many people think it is great, there has to be some iota of good in the matter. Let us investigate this a bit further.
The fish do not form the oil. It is made by micro algae. This is consumed by salmons and herrings and they in turn are consumed by predatory fish such as mackerel, flounder and salmon. This causes the predatory fish to have a higher level of Omega-3 fatty acids due to the effect of biomagnification. These fish are then caught by humans to extract the oil. There are vegetarian versions of the supplements available as they are extracted from the micro algae directly. These are also in the form of easy to swallow pills.
Having a spoonful of fish oil a day has many benefits but also a drawback. A single serving is said to contain almost 2000 calories as it is saturated with fat and cholesterol. If you are trying to watch your weight it might not be advisable to have it daily.