FROM: Pat Wyman, M.A.
RE: Are Your Omega 3 Fish Oils Safer Than Eating Fish?
As you know, I've been writing about the many benefits of omega 3 fish oils for many years now. If you want to keep your family healthy, this is one of those articles you will want to read all the way through.
News about the superb health benefits of omega 3 fish oils are everywhere these days. Medical science proves that they make you think faster, improve memory, protect your heart, stave off dementia, eliminate many symptoms of ADHD and even lower your blood pressure.
*** But are the fish oil supplements you take safter than eating fish?***
There's growing concern in the medical community about the dangerous chemicals found in fish (both farm raised and wild), like mercury, PCB's, dioxins and other toxins.
So, after a thorough review of the medical literature, here's the skinny on the "smart fats", whether the fish oil supplements you take are safe, and if you eat fish, which type is safest for your family.
1. Is Your Tuna Safe?
On August 1, 2005, a Wall Street Journal article, talking about the failure of the FDA to warn about the high levels of pollutants in fish, told about a 10 year old boy suffering from mercury poisoning because his parents thought eating tuna fish was safe.
Sadly, the boy had recently acquired severe learning difficulties and the cause wasn't determined until neurological tests showed that the hild had mercury levels i his blodd that were nearly double what the EPA deems safe.
Finally, in March, 2004, the FDA issued a mercury advisory recommending limits on tuna and other fish consumption for pregnant and nursing women and children, but it was too late for the 10 year old boy.
2. Mercury levels in some common fish
Note: Albacore, which is the most expensive type of tuna, has nearly three times more mercury than other tuna. (Source: FDA: Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management.
Average Mercury (parts per million)
American Lobster .31
chunk light tuna .12
Note: There are no safe levels of mercury, PCB's, dioxins for your body and brain.
3. What are these pollutants, and what are the dangers of Mercury, PCB's and Dioxins?
*** Mercury ***
Mercury is released into the air from coal burning power plants and solid-waste incinerators. When it gets into the water, it converts into a dangerous neurotoxin which destroys nerve tissue.
The largest fish, and predatory fish, of course have the highest levels of mercury. But, watch out, when you eat the fish, methylmercury accumulates into your bloodstream. Although it can be removed over time, it takes more than a year to drop to safe levels.
If you are in your child bearing years, are pregnant, nursing or have young children, your risk of mercury toxicity is even higher. Further, it can be passed from the mother to the unborn baby. It gets worse. According to the June, 1998 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers at Dartmouth College found that children exposed to even low levels of methylmercury (evidenced in hair samples) perform more poorly in cognitive tests.
Since 8% of U.S. women of childbearing age have unsafe mercury levels, this means that more than 300,000 babies are born at risk for memory, language, physical and attention span
impairments. A scary thought isn't it? Every time I go to the supermarket, I want to stop at the tuna fish aisle and warn the moms buying all that tuna, what it could do to their children.
*** PCB's ***
Although PCS's, which were once used as insulating tools in electrical transformers, were banned in 1977, they are soluable and still in the fatty tissue of marine and animal species. PCB's are linked to impaired memory, certain cancers, and learning problems.
The New England Journal of Medicine reported on Sept. 12, 1996, that a study of 212 children born to women who had eaten PCB contaminated fish from Lake Michigan, were three times more likely to lag two years behind in reading comprehension and adversely affected intellectual functioning.
*** Dioxins ***
Dioxins are by-products of industrial chemicals and also accumulate in the fatty tissue of fish. In various animal studies, dioxins have been found to cause birth defects,
nerve damage, changes in immune function and can result in higher numbers of miscarriages.
4. Can You Get The Health Benefits of Omega 3 Fish Oils Without The Risk?
If you're a consientious consumer an dpay attention to what is called third party quality assurance programs, you can be absolutely certain that the fish oil supplments you take are]safe and effective.
But beware-- not all fish oils are created equal, or have the same high quality you'd want for your family. Recent medical journal studies show that most "off the shelf" fish oils were rancid, even before their expiration date, and had high levels of mercury, PCB's and dioxins. So before you run to your local store or warehouse type shopping center for the least expensive fish oils, read on...
5. Who are the third party fish oil quality assurers and which fish oil supplements have received the highest rating of safety?
There are several organizations that independently insure the quality of fish oils and attest to the fact that there is no mercury, PCB's, dioxins or other toxins in the fish oil.
These labs are highly regulated and rigorously test the fish to make sure that any contaminants are distilled out through many steps.
a. The IFOS - International Fish Oil Standards Program
IFOS measures quality of omega 3 products through more stringent standards than tha of the World Health Organization and the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Interestingly, the FDA has the least stringent standards of these organizations.
IFOS program uses a lengthy series of dissolution rates, gas chromatography, and cold water vapor atomic absorption spectroscopy, etc. to determine contaminants and omega 3
cnotent as a percentage of weight. Further, their program tests product levels at higher parts per trillion than any of the others to insure even greater safety.
One of the finest products, which has received the highest IFOS rating is found at
Remember, fish oil, omega 3 supplements, have hundreds of health benefits. If you wnat to improve your memory, think faster, remember longer, lower your blood pressure, elimiate many of the symptoms of ADHD and even depression, I recommend that you visit the page below and learn more.
Enjoy Faster Learning,
Author, Learning vs Testing, Strategies That Bridge The Gap What's Food Got To Do With It?
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