Discover the Superfood Used By Vikings


vikings used cod liver oil

Posted by Ron Slavick on


The Vikings were known to be a pretty robust crew. If we’re being honest, they’d probably crush us modern mortals at the CrossFit Games (especially if said Games were held in the middle of a Scandinavian winter). Would you have the stamina and strength to hang with the Vikings? You might if you consumed one of their most treasured dietary supplements: cod liver oil.

What liver what?

Unfortunate name, extraordinary powers. Cod liver oil, taken from the livers of the Atlantic cod (as you may have guessed), was consumed regularly during the Viking Era, especially during the cold months. This raw oil was prized for its powers of healing, strength, energy, and stamina. Vikings would even rub it on their muscles and joints to relieve soreness. By the 1700s, it was being prescribed for ailments like rheumatism, and by the 1820s it was officially recognized in the medical community as a legitimate, albeit mysterious, healer. 

What’s in cod liver oil that makes it so great?

Cod liver oil is a triple-threat supplement containing three incredible sources of nutrition that do all kinds of good things for just about every system of the body.

Omega-3s: Cod liver oil contains huge amounts of EPA and DHA. These Omega-3s help burn fats and promote muscle growth, and are vital to brain and nervous system function. They also regulate cholesterol levels in the body, which contributes to improved heart health.[1]

Vitamin A: Cod liver oil is a great source of the natural form of this important fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin A helps prevent eye-related disorders, supports brain health, and promotes healthy cellular growth. It also stimulates hormone production which is necessary for proper sleep, immune function, and reproduction.[2]

Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” is another essential nutrient found in cod liver oil. It strengthens neurotransmitter operations, heart health, and inflammatory responses. Vitamin D has also been shown to prevent depression, anxiety, and fatigue, and improve memory. [3]

It worked for the Vikings. What can it do for you?

You may not live in Viking-Era Norway, but as an athlete you can reap major rewards from cod liver oil. In addition to the benefits listed above, the oil works these wonders for those who train:

Faster recovery, fewer injuries. EPA and DHA are powerful anti-inflammatories shown to reduce muscle soreness and the risk of injuryor even help heal existing injuries related to the inflammatory response, such as troubled knees or a bad back.[4]

More effective protein utilization. Vitamin A also helps your body utilize protein effectively. If you eat a high protein diet, you may be depleting your iron storesand cod liver oil can help compensate for that, helping your body utilize new protein sources you consume.

Maintaining strong muscles and bones. A deficiency in vitamin D has been shown to contribute to muscle and bone weakness, which for athletes, makes them highly susceptible to injury. A daily dose of cod liver oil will ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of both D and A, two vitamins that are critical to the muscles you rely on to stay strong for training.[5, 6]

How do you choose the right cod liver oil?

There are lots of decent brands of cod liver oil on the market today, but not all are created equal. Nutritionists recommend choosing one that uses the traditional oil fermenting method, which guarantees the retention of more of the nutrients in their ideal ratio. You also want to look for a wild-caught variety from cold Arctic waters, as both vitamin A & D and omega-3 contents are higher in this variety. 

How AMRAP does cod liver oil

In our quest to make the best natural supplements for athletes, we knew we had to include cod liver oiland make it the highest quality it can possibly be. AMRAP Nutrition Cod Liver Oil is cold processed, naturally fermented, and wild caught in Norwegian waters. It also contains the most naturally occurring vitamin A and vitamin D when compared to any other brand we've sampled. And to get technical on you, it’s also encapsulated in a nitrogen-rich vacuum environment to prevent oxidation (another problem found with less than premium brands). We’d love to hear what you think.

The bottom line on cod liver oil:

  • The Vikings survived and thrived on it, and they were total badasses.
  • It’s a combo of omega-3s, vitamin A, and vitamin D, which are all essential to optimal health.
  • For athletes, cod liver oil supports faster recovery, injury prevention and healing, more effective protein utilization, and stronger muscles and bones.
  • Look for a variety that’s fermented and wild caught in cold Arctic waters, such as this one here, made for athletes, by athletes.

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