Fish Oil Toxic To Pregnant Women?

July 26 2016No Commented

Categorized Under: In the News, Pregnancy, Vitamin supplements

It really upsets us when we are subjected to scaremongering by the media, as we were on Friday the 22nd July, after a report aired, which was titled “Pregnant Women told Don’t take fish oil, after dramatic findings”.fish oil

They were talking about 2 separate studies done at the University of Auckland Liggins Institute, that suggested that most fish oil supplements contained oils that had significant levels of oxidation and that over 50% of these fish oils exceeded industry guidelines for maximum levels of oxidation.

Professor Wayne Cutfield from the Liggins Institute made a statement saying “So our recommendation, at this time, until there is more information, is not to take fish oil during pregnancy.

A study done by the Liggins Institute last year found most fish oil supplements sold in New Zealand had gone off, so scientists did some testing of fish oil on pregnant rats.

Professor Cutfield said ” By the 2nd day of life, almost a third of the baby rats had died.  In addition, we found that the mothers, after they had stopped taking the fish oil, 3 weeks after delivery, they were more insulin resistant, meaning they were more prone to developing diabetes”.

But the rats were given oils that were highly rancid and also double the recommended dose.

Jenny Reid, for the Ministry for Primary Industries and Health said that study doesn’t prove a risk for humans.  She said ” Its really important that anybody, but particularly pregnant women know that there is NOT a food safety issue, shown in this study, in terms of the consumption of fish oil supplements.

The Ministry for Primary Industries commissioned two Dunedin-based toxicologists to produce a scientific report covering:

  • A review of the literature for more recent safety data on fish oils and oxidised fish oils
  • A risk assessment based on available data; and
  • An evaluation of whether robust safety standards for oxidation of fish oils can now be derived.

So what did the report from the Ministry for Primary Industries find with regard to fish oil?

The report found there is NO evidence of any food safety concerns for consumers of fish oils or fish oils supplements, if consumers follow manufacturers recommended dose instructions found on product labels.

It also found that fish oil contains fatty acids with double bonds and will oxidise naturally over time.  The chemical products of this oxidation process are only toxic if dietary intakes are sufficiently high.  The risk of oxidation products in the fish oils on the New Zealand market is not high enough to pose a risk to consumers.  Read more about this here.

Industry spokesperson and executive director of Natural Products NZ, Alison Quesnel, agrees it’s safe.

She says “There’s many studies showing the advantages of fish oil.  There is rigorous testing within their manufacturing and so do the processors of the actual fish oil, so we’re confident that our product meets quality expectations.”

But she adds any pregnant mother with concerns should always consult their doctor.

You can view the full article on NewsHub here

 Footnote from Leanne James

Oh Dear!

One of the main things I want to say about this is that You get what you pay for when it comes to supplements.  I know they made a comment about this, stating the price didn’t reflect whether the oil was rancid or not, however I find this hard to believe.  We recommend specialised Pre natal oil supplements for pregnant and breast feeding women, such as the Nordic Naturals Pre Natal DHA and Efamol Mother & Baby.  These are high quality supplements, from high quality manufacturers, that use the latest technology, such as Nitrogen flushing and Nitrogen manufacturing environment, preventing rancidity.

Nordic naturals specifically make this statement with regard to the quality of their products and how they prevent rancidity of their oil supplement.

As the evidence behind fish oil continues to grow and drive awareness of the crucial importance of omega-3s to good health, it’s more important than ever to understand how purity, freshness, and structure determine the overall quality of fish oil. Nordic Naturals was founded with the fundamental goal of improving fish oil quality and today Nordic Naturals’ commitment to innovation remain absolute. 

Every batch of fish oils surpasses all national and international pharmaceutical standards for freshness and purity. Nordic Naturals uses a nitrogen manufacturing environment where there is no opportunity for oxidation to occur, thus preventing rancidity (free radicals).

They also incorporate a synergistic blend of powerful antioxidants, made specifically as a natural product to stabilize fats and reduce the effects of oxidation meaning there is no fishy aftertaste.  Nordic Naturals offers a comprehensive range of fish oils which are targeted to specific functional needs and are available in wide range of tasty flavours.

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