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ScienceBased Health Responds to News Coverage about PCB Levels in Fish Oil
ABC News recently reported on results from very preliminary testing of some fish oil products on the market. Some of the products showed levels of PCBs above the threshold allowed by Proposition 65 in California (90 nanograms), but well within the guidelines that the World Health Organization states are safe for health.
What are PCBs?
PCBs are chemicals known as polychlorinated biphenyls. They are man-made, accumulate in the food chain, and are associated with cancer and birth defects.
Are there PCBs in OmegaAdvance or other ScienceBased Health products?
Our supplier of omega-3 fish oil removes the impurities found in fish oils (such as PCBs and mercury) before the fish oil is concentrated. The processing it undergoes also removes other contaminants such as dioxin and furans (toxic chemicals that have been associated with a wide range of adverse health effects). Further, every batch of fish oil is routinely tested for these contaminants – and is always far below the “safe harbor, no significant risk level” limit set by Proposition 65.
Additionally, our supplier is the only producer of fish oil in the world to achieve the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) verification. USP is the body that establishes the quality standards for the FDA and all medicines in the US. USP verification means that source of fish oils SBH uses has been prepared under accepted manufacturing practices to ensure consistent quality, and that the ingredients meet stringent purity requirements. Specifically, as part of verification, USP has tested for PCBs and found that this fish oil meets strict USP standards for contaminant levels.
ScienceBased Health uses USP-verified fish oil in its omega-3 fish oil product, OmegaAdvance® – as well as in HydroEye® and Optic Nerve Formula®.
How does the fish oil in OmegaAdvance and other ScienceBased Health products differ from the majority of fish oil products identified in the news report?
Many of the products identified were derived from larger species of fish such as shark, cod and salmon. Large fish species tend to have dramatically higher toxin levels than smaller ones. Fish oil used in ScienceBased Health products is sourced from smaller EPA/DHA-rich anchovies and sardines. These fish are harvested by a sustainable fishery in Peru. The Peruvian upwelling region, where very pure, cold Antarctic waters meet the steep continental shelf off the west coast of South America, is one of the richest marine environments in the world.
Is eating fish a safer choice for obtaining omega-3s than fish oil supplements?
Actually, the opposite is often true. While fish can and should play a role in a healthy diet, eating high amounts (especially of larger species) should be avoided, because fish may be contaminated with heavy metals such as mercury, as well as other toxins, including PCBs and dioxins. Fish oil supplements that are properly sourced and manufactured, can be a safe alternative to contaminated fish, and a safe way to augment omega-3 intake from fish.
The EPA, for example, issued a report in September, 2009 entitled Fish Contamination in US Lakes and Reservoirs. Analysis of fish samples representing nearly 77,000 lakes and reservoirs in virtually all states showed that mercury and PCBs were detected in every fish sample, and that many samples had concentrations of mercury and PCB that exceeded EPA recommendations.
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