There is good reason for cod liver oil being the most popular health supplement. The oil found in a cods liver is the best source for the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, it contains large amounts of vitamin D (as well as natural vitamin D metabolites), and it contains vitamin A. Simply put, it provides a lot of what a modern diets lacks, and all in a natural form. Sadly, not all cod liver oil is like the oil in a cods liver, and I’ve discussed how cod liver oil supplements can vary dramatically here based on where the products are sourced and how they are processed during manufacturing. With this in mind, it made Dropi’s extra virgin cod liver oil a welcome and refreshing discovery.
Sourcing the fish
A good cod liver oil starts with the best fish, and I can’t think of any better than the fish from fresh, clear, Icelandic waters. Specifically, Dropi’s cod are caught around the Westfjords in Iceland, which in itself is a place of unspoiled natural beauty (seriously, just look at some pictures). The Westfjords haven’t been touched by industry, and the waters here are renowned for being low in pollutants and high in fish. Yet, despite being rich in fish, the fishing grounds aren’t heavily fished – Dropi and the Icelandic community recognise the importance of sustainable fishing to protect the natural environment, and so stick to a strict catch limitation system put in place by the Icelandic authorities.
Once the cods have been caught, they make the very short trip to Dropi’s processing facility which is based in a small fishing village called Bolungarvík in the Westfjords – the very same place as where they catch their cod. So when they say that they only use fresh livers, you can be sure it’s true. In fact, they only use livers from fish caught that same day (I can’t imagine many other manufacturers can claim to do this). Dropi then grind up the livers to release the oil and separate the oil from the liver using temperatures bellow 42oC to ensure the omega-3s and naturally occurring vitamins don’t get damaged. The oil is then filtered and small amounts of rosemary oil extract and naturally occurring vitamin E are then added to the oil to naturally stabilize it. The product is then chilled and stored in a nitrogen filled (oxygen free) environment.
This is a very simple and environmentally friendly process. The livers/ oil travel the shortest distance of any cod liver in this industry, the processing temperature is so low that the oil can be classed as cold-pressed, the nutrients aren’t damaged, and finally, by storing the oil in a nitrogen filled environment, the oil will stay fresh as it cannot react with oxygen in the air. Nitrogen is an ideal gas to store delicate oils such as cod liver oils in because nitrogen is one of the most unreactive gasses and is completely safe (the air you breathe is about 78% nitrogen).
So the processing of this cod liver oil is pretty spot on by our standards. By sourcing fish in the local and pristine waters of the Westfjords, Dropi have done away with the need of harsh and damaging purification processes that many other cod liver oil manufacturers use. Their process is simple – break up the livers, scoop up the oil, and bottle in an oxygen free environment. This of course means that the fats in this cod liver oil will be in the much sort after triglyceride form as opposed to the undesirable (but very common) ethyl-esters.
Storage of the oil once bottled is just as important as any other stage. Once the oil is bottled the fats can still be damaged by exposure to light. You will find that any good quality cod liver oil manufacturer will store their oil in an opaque bottle to avoid light reaching the oil, and this is exactly what Dropi does. Their bottles are made of a dark brown glass to prevent any light penetration (and also placed in a box, so you can guarantee that there will be no light getting to the oil).
With this being a natural product, you can expect some natural variation in the oil composition depending on the season the fish are caught in. However, you can expect each 5ml serving to provides an average of the following nutrients:
- Total omega-3 fatty acids – 1150mg
- Of which DHA: 450mg
- Of which EPA: 350mg
- Vitamin A – 725 µg
- Vitamin D3 – 4.3µg
Dropi’s cod liver oil will give you a DHA: EPA ratio of 1.3:1 (with slight natural variation). Ideal recommendations for DHA:EPA ratios seem to vary between 1:2 and 2:1, and the only thing that is agreed on is that DHA and EPA are better together rather than in isolation, and other dietary factors will skew your ratios beyond what a supplement will provide anyway. Still, Dropi’s cod liver oil sits nicely between the recommended dosages, so there is no risk of an imbalance in fats.
Dropi’s extra virgin cod liver oil is truly a breath of fresh air in the cod liver oil market, and it ticks all my requirements. It is sustainably sourced in clean waters, fresh, extracted in cold temperatures, and the nutrients are all in natural and easily absorbable forms. You can see it how it compares to other fish oils in this comparison article here.