Environmental Issues that are on our Mind
By Jennifer Morganti, ND, Director of Education for NEEDS
Why fish oil instead of eating whole fish?
Only a few types of fish, such as Alaskan wild-caught salmon, have acceptable levels of mercury and other toxins, making it difficult and expensive to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids from diet alone. Fish oil supplements are a much better choice, because the oil can be purified and contaminants removed. By gathering information about different companies' manufacturing practices, the Environmental Defense Fund determined which brands of fish oil were the cleanest (www.edf.org). They found that the majority of fish oil brands were properly purified and safe. Which brands were among the worst? Kmart and Rite Aid brands, providing proof that you do get what you pay for when it comes to fish oil. Want to know how much mercury is in your favorite fish? Go to www.gotmercury.org for a quick reference tool.
The Gulf Oil Spill
Let us not forget the tragedy that happened in April 2010 when a BP oil rig exploded, killing 11 people and leaking over 100 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. To add insult to injury, BP proceeded (and continues to) dump over two million gallons of a toxic dispersant known as Corexit 9500 to make the oil slicks disappear and save money on cleanup. Corexit contains numerous volatile organic carbons (VOCs) such as benzene and toluene, which are taken up by marine wildlife (and consumed by humans). The Corexit is also inhaled by people who go on or near the water, or live anywhere near the Gulf, as the chemical evaporates and becomes integrated with the rain, spreading it in people's yards, pools, and gardens. Countless numbers of people have become ill due to exposure to this chemical, yet BP continues to dump it.
Goitrogen's Impact on Your Thyroid
Goitrogens are substances that inhibit iodine uptake, possibly leading to hypothyroidism. Perchlorate (rocket fuel, found in drinking water) and nitrate (also in water) have been identified as goitrogens. A study showed that when these chemicals were detected in women's urine, it coincided with low iodine and lower thyroid hormone. (Environ Health Perspect 118:a438-a442).