Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fish oil supplements may contain flame retardants

17.03.2004


Flame retardants have been showing up in some surprising places, from human breast milk to peregrine falcon eggs. Now this growing list can be expanded to include dietary supplements based on cod liver oil, according to a new study.



European scientists have found that flame retardant levels have increased significantly during the past four years in products containing cod liver oil, a common component of dietary supplements. The report appears in the April 7 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.

Fish and vegetable oils are in high demand as dietary supplements because they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which have been linked to various health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease.


In recent years, however, scientists have shown that fish oils are prone to contamination by organic chemicals. For example, researchers have found that farm-raised salmon contain more contaminants than wild salmon, which they attribute partly to the fish oils used to supplement salmon feed.

"We analyzed 21 commercially available fish and vegetable oil dietary supplements for selected contaminants," says Miriam Jacobs, Ph.D., who lectures in food safety and toxicology at the University of Surrey in Guildford, U.K, and was one of the authors of the latest study involving cod liver oil. The supplements, purchased from retailers in the U.K., contained four classes of oils: pure vegetable oils, fish and vegetable oil formulations, cod liver oil and whole body fish oil.

Jacobs and her coworkers measured levels of persistent organic pollutants in the supplements, including pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are used widely as flame retardants. They then compared the values with levels measured in the same brands purchased eight years ago from the same retailers, and with fish oils used to supplement salmon aquaculture feeds obtained four years ago. In earlier work, Jacobs had found a relationship between pollutants in these feeds and in farmed European salmon.

Supplements based on vegetable oil and whole body fish oil showed little or no contamination throughout the current and previous studies. "The cod liver oils have similar levels of PCBs and pesticides compared to samples obtained from the same outlets," Jacobs says. "But the levels of flame retardants are higher."

Flame retardant levels in cod liver oils from the new study ranged from about 15-34 nanograms per gram of fat, while the range was 0-13 only four years ago. "This is a relatively large increase," Jacobs says. "The extensive use of these chemicals in recent years means that they can get into places where they shouldn’t be, such as the marine environment."

The findings add to a growing number of studies that have found flame retardants in unexpected places, from human breast milk in the United States to peregrine falcon eggs in Sweden.

Not only does the new study have environmental implications, but it could also have dietary repercussions. "It suggests that a consumer can reduce her or his intake of the persistent organic pollutants by changing to a formulation that contains less cod liver oil, and that contains a proportion of vegetable oil sources of omega 3 fatty acids," Jacobs says.

Vegetable oils contain short-chain fatty acids, which are generally thought to offer less health benefit than the long-chain fatty acids from fish oils. Researchers have shown, however, that humans can metabolize and produce long-chain fatty acids from short-chain vegetable sources. This metabolism may not be very efficient, according to Jacobs, so a healthy adult would probably need to consume 8-10 times more vegetable oil supplements to get similar health benefits.

These are not definitive dietary recommendations, Jacobs cautions. "We hope these findings will stimulate further research into the newer pollutants to better protect the public and the environment," she says. "Regulatory authorities conduct food-monitoring programs for dioxins and PCBs, but far less so for other contaminants."

Regulations should also consider other potential routes of exposure, Jacobs says, including farmed salmon that are fortified with fish oil to increase their omega 3 fatty acid content. Fish oils are also used as feed supplements for farm animals, including sheep, cows and chickens.

Allison Byrum | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>