Arsenic Poisoning Case Report: Avoid Cheap Fish Oil to Treat Arthritis

by Chris Centeno, MD /

Avoid cheap Fish Oil to treat arthritis!  I’ve blogged in the past about the need for high doses of concentrated fish oil to effectively treat arthritis pain. Most patients that I talk to buy the cheapest stuff they can find, not understanding that it’s likely oxidized (fishy smelling). In addition, when they buy concentrated forms, they don’t realize that the distillation process that concentrates the fractions of the oil wreck the natural triglyceride form and produce a toxic form of fish oil that will easily burn through a styrofoam cup. Now a case report brings up another issue that’s been talked about before, heavy metal poisoning via poor quality fish oil. In this case an old woman showed up with suddenly increasing loss of feeling in her feet and was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy. Her smart doctor looked for environmental toxins and found a very high Arsenic level. After a review of her exposures, she was asked to stop taking fish oil and her Arsenic level and numbness cleared up. The upshot? Many cheap brands of fish oil have been shown to have heavy metals. A California lawsuit in 2010 named several brands with high PCBs:

The products named in the PCB lawsuit are:

  1. GNC Liquid Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
  2. Nature Made Cod Liver Oil
  3. Nature Made Odorless Fish Oil
  4. Now Foods Double Strength Cod Liver Oil
  5. Now Foods Salmon Oil
  6. Now Foods Shark Liver Oil
  7. Solgar 100% Pure Norwegian Shark Liver Oil Complex
  8. Solgar Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
  9. Twinlab Emulsified Norwegian Cod Liver Oil
  10. Twinlab Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Notice that most on the list are Cod Liver or Shark sourced oils, so avoid these sources. One way to reduce or eliminate heavy metals is an expensive process called molecular distillation. Look for this when buying fish oil. Also make sure there is certificate of analysis available where the levels of heavy metals are measured. Regrettably, converting the concentrated fish oil back to it’s natural triglyceride form and molecular distillation are expensive processes, so expect to pay between $35-60 for a month’s supply of concentrated fish oil.  So, perhaps consider cutting out a few lattes a week or save money on other things, but avoid cheap fish oil to treat arthritis.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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