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The Perils Caused by Fish Oil Contaminants

Updated on June 20, 2012

Fish oil has been reported to have plenty of benefits for the body, such as prevention of heart disease, regulation of blood pressure, and enhancement of cognitive functions. So fish oil is thought to be one of the best all-around healthy lifestyle foodstuff around. However, fish oil contaminants might make us think twice about our fish oil intake.

Fish oil becomes adulterated because of the continuous dumping of toxic wastes into the water. Many of the pollutants that enter our water forms get into the body systems of the fishes, and so we know what happens when we ingest the derived fish oil.

There are many fish oil contaminants out there, such as the following:

  • Mercury - Mercury is the most frequent contaminant found in fish oil. The harmful effects of mercury are well-documented already, most especially nervous system disorders in children.
  • Lead - Lead is another heavy metal contaminant of fish oil. It is a widely used industrial metal, so that explains the large amount of lead wastes dumped into the water. The most notable effect of lead is central nervous system disorders, most especially in the brain. In children, this could mean mental retardation and slowed cognitive functions.
  • Dioxin - Dioxins are frequently used in manufacturing. Dioxins are mutagenic, meaning they cause changes in our DNA, and carcinogenic, which means that they cause cancer.
  • Pesticides - Many pesticides get into our seas and oceans and so they are taken in by fish. These pesticides can accumulate into our system and impair our nervous system.
  • Arsenic - Arsenic is a deadly heavy metal that is often used in industrial processes. Arsenic can kill quite a number of lifeforms, but it sometimes persists in some living things, such as fishes. When the fish oil is extracted from these fishes, the arsenic is there to stay.

Despite the presence of fish oil contaminants, fish oil is here to stay. So the best advice is: Instead of eating fish to get your supply of omega-3 fatty acids, just take fish oil supplements. The fish oil in these supplements is processed and purified so that there are virtually no contaminants left. Fish, such as salmon, tuna, and anchovies, contain plenty of fish oil but are very likely to have contaminants in their systems.

As a precaution, do research for the laboratory findings of fish oil from the manufacturer making the supplements that you are planning to buy. That will ensure that the amounts of fish oil contaminants found in the supplements are within acceptable levels.

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