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Healthy and Wise Newsletter | Finding Quality Fish Oil

Finding Quality Fish Oil

As research mounts in support of the health benefits of fish oils, so do reports of over-fishing the world’s oceans and contamination of fish with harmful PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and heavy metals. Recent reports regarding contamination of salmon in our local waters has further fueled concern amongst those of us who supplement our diets with fish oils.

Our concern is reasonable. When ingested, environmental toxins become concentrated in tissues, and may result in impaired health. Research has shown that fish oils promote cardiovascular health, brain development and function, skin health, and have anti-inflammatory effects. So how do we choose a high quality fish oil supplement to ensure that we receive the health benefits without receiving the health risks associated with environmental contamination? Fish oil quality is not easy to determine without some investigation.

Bastyr Dispensary monitors the practices and products of dietary supplement manufacturers by requesting the completion of our quality assurance questionnaire and the submission of supportive documentation.

The fish oil manufacturers with whom we work share our environmental and safety concerns. They source their oils from wild fish species that are not endangered, and do not participate in over-fishing. These companies are responsible manufacturers who develop their own procedures that are stringent and specific to the products they produce. The procedures include molecular distillation to remove impurities, and comprehensive testing of each batch to confirm that the oils are fresh and pure. Test results are listed on what is called a Certificate of Analysis (C of A). The C of A should include heavy metals, PBCs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins, dioxin-like compounds, and peroxides. A responsible company will freely share their C of A with consumers. Be wary of a company that refuses to send a C of A upon request.

For more information on dietary supplement quality, establish a relationship with a health care practitioner well-trained in nutrition and botanical medicine who can help guide you to high quality dietary supplements that are appropriate for your individual needs. Naturopathic physicians are well suited to provide such a service.

Writer: Paul Dompe, ND
Date: 2004

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