Trust me, I understand the appeal to consume fish oils to improve and maintain good health. It is a well known fact that fish contain nutrient dense properties and beneficial omega fatty acids like DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid ) and other needed vitamins and minerals.
Many of us are likely not getting enough fish naturally in our diets. The biggest turn-off to those who are health conscious is the unethical and unhealthy fish farming techniques used to bring us our fish. Rightfully so, we are concerned about contamination and toxins.
So, with the best intentions, we have hope that fish oils will do the job without the added gunk. Wishful thinking? Unfortunately so.
Disclosure: This post is for informational purposes only and not intended as medical advice. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.
Previous Fish Oil Complaints: Rancidity
People started smelling something fishy (literally) when our beloved fish oil capsules were under fire for possible rancidity. You can read all about those issues in the Weston A. Price Foundation 100+ page report detailing the results of independent lab tests that had samples of Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil .
Dr. Daniel’s report claims that FCLO is not actually “fermented” as claimed, but it is actually rancid and combined with other cheap oils. The report also goes on to say that there are lower levels of fat soluble nutrients in FCLO than claimed and that the oil isn’t even from cod at all! Hmph!
These things are worrisome enough, but even if we are assuming that the fish oils are not rancid and they are actually cod, there are STILL serious problems swimming in our fish oils.
PCB Contamination In Fish Oil
PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) are a probable human carcinogen.The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Environmental Protection Agency classify PCBs as a probable human carcinogen. The National Toxicology Program has concluded that PCBs are reasonably likely to cause cancer in humans. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has determined that PCBs are a potential occupational carcinogen.
Studies of PCBs in humans have found increased rates of melanomas, liver cancer, gall bladder cancer, biliary tract cancer, gastrointestinal tract cancer, and brain cancer, and may be linked to breast cancer. PCBs are known to cause a variety of types of cancer in rats, mice, and other study animals. (source)
NO Fish Oils Are Free From PCB Contamination Or Mercury
I really mean it. NONE! Recently, there were multiple tests done on fish oils by The Consumer Agency. The agency purchased three lots of 15 different top-selling brands of fish oil supplements online and in the New York metropolitan area.
The samples were sent to a lab where they were tested for contaminants as well as spoilage and whether they disintegrated properly.
Nine brands “passed” the quality measures tested, however, it was admitted that even the brands that passed all their quality measures contained at least some detectable level of most of the contaminants. (which also can include mercury and dioxins).
Most tested pills claimed to be “purified” or “free” of PCBs, mercury, or other contaminants. These claims have no specific regulatory definition, the Food and Drug Administration says.
I know that many experts suggest eating more fatty fish. But when you begin to really look at mercury studies in seafood, mercury is present even in wild caught fish and shellfish. Not just a “little bit” either. Sometimes these toxins are found in alarming levels.
Even in the fish that have lower levels of mercury, you are still ingesting small amounts of a highly toxic substances that can cause impaired neurological development, poor fetal development, neurological damage, cognitive impairment, attention and learning disorders, and many others.
A spokesman for dietary supplement association claims that PCB’s are everywhere in trace amounts and it’s not something to be concerned about.
Trace amounts? What have we all learned about “trace amounts”? The trace amounts of pesticide residue on our food, the trace amounts of aluminum and formaldehyde in our vaccines, the trace amounts of pollution in our air, the trace amounts of toxins in our personal care products…..
All of these “trace amounts”from all these different sources accumulate in our system and have potential to bring on pretty serious adverse health effects. The bottom line is, we don’t want PCB’s or any other toxins for that matter, in our bodies at all, not even in trace amounts.
What To Take Instead of Fish Oil
Now that we know that fish oil contaminants are simply un-avoidable, there are foods that are naturally rich in omega-fatty acids as well as a few trusted supplements that we can take with the same benefits but none of the risks.
Foods Rich In Omega-3 Fats
I know it doesn’t sound very appealing, but honestly neither did fermented cod liver oil. Algae is actually the original source of omega fatty acids/DHA. Fish cannot actually make the omega 3 fatty acids that are found in abundance in their oils. They obtain them from the microalgae they consume!
- Blue-green algae, in organic form, is a wonderfully nutrient-rich food. There are two forms of blue-green algae. One being Spirulina and the other being Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). These are the forms of blue-green algae that are most commonly consumed.
- Algae based DHA has been found to be bio-equivalent to DHA in fish oil and seems to provide the same benefits without the contaminants. Clinical trials with DHA-rich algae oil indicate comparable efficacies to fish oil for protection from cardiovascular risk factors by lowering plasma triglycerides and oxidative stress.
- Note: We are NOT talking about the algae that is found growing in ponds, or even in your swimming pool. This algae is not safe for you to consume, so don’t even try it! (Not that I honestly think you would) The blue-green algae that is sold as a dietary supplement is the safe and only option and has no known side effects. (Source)
Algae Supplements: Recommended Brands
Nordic Naturals – Micro Algae
- Contains significant amounts of both EPA & DHA
- Made from microalgae, the original source of marine omega-3
- Sustainably sourced, Non-GMO and hexane free
- Supports normal vision, heart and brain health, and immunity
- Check out Nordic Naturals Algae.
(Note: If you’re thinking of this brand as the bad guy in the fish oil tests, the information had been updated. The version of this story that appears in the January 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine reported that tests found “elevated levels of compounds that indicate spoilage” in samples of Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega . Nordic Naturals challenged that conclusion based on the fact that its product includes natural lemon oil as a flavoring. Upon further review, Consumer Reports found that the industry-standard spoilage test we used cannot reliably detect spoilage in products with lemon oil, and they could not identify any current well-established methodology for doing so)
Pure Klamath Blue-Green Algae
- 100% Organic Blue-Green Algae grown in mountain spring-fed Upper Klamath Lake
- Harvested at one special time of year, at its peak of bloom
- Triple-filtered, cold-processed, and independently tested and verified
- Contains antioxidant-rich carotenoids, bioavailable vegan protein, & detoxifying chlorophyll
- Supports your energy, stamina, and overall well-being
- Check out Pure Klamath Blue-Green Algae .
Dr. Fuhrman’s DHA+EPA Purity
- A vegan source of healthful long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
- Derived from lab-grown algae so there are no environmental contaminants
- 100% vegan
- Pleasant citrus flavor so it is easily hidden in food or drink
- Purity is a purified liquid concentrate instead of capsules so the taste of rotten oil can not be hidden
- Check out Dr. Fuhrman’s DHA+EPA Purity.
Clearly, Algae Is The Better Choice Over Fish Oil.
DHA from algae is sustainable and is an alternative source of DHA that can satisfy both the demands of consumers and the needs of vegetarians, as well as fulfilling most, if not all, the health benefits currently established with omega 3s. Algae is also safe from fish oil contaminants, metals, dioxins and other trace toxins.
Love & Light,