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Thread: Study: kelp supplements contain arsenic

  1. #1
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    Default Study: kelp supplements contain arsenic

    People may be interested in reading through this report on a UC Davis study that found arsenic in 8 of 9 over the counter herbal kelp products. Kelp supplements are often recommended as part of home prepared diets whether cooked or raw and may be included in commercial raw diets. Some give kelp as a supplement to a commercial diet as well.

    Full article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medi...=67410&nfid=al

    UC Davis Study Finds High Arsenic Levels In Herbal Kelp Supplements

    Main Category: Complementary Medicine / Alternative Medicine News
    Article Date: 10 Apr 2007 - 14:00 PDT

    A study of herbal kelp supplements led by UC Davis public health expert Marc Schenker concludes that its medicinal use may cause inadvertent arsenic poisoning and health dangers for consumers, especially when overused. Schenker and two researchers evaluated nine over-the-counter herbal kelp products and found higher than acceptable arsenic levels in eight of them.

    The new study, published in the April issue of Environmental Health Perspectives (http://www.ehponline.org/) was prompted by the case of a 54-year-old woman who was seen at the UC Davis Occupational Medicine Clinic following a two-year history of worsening alopecia (hair loss), fatigue and memory loss.

    The woman's symptoms had begun with minor memory loss and fatigue. Her primary care physician initially found nothing wrong with the woman and thought the symptoms were related to menopause. With no specific diagnosis or treatment recommendations, the patient started taking a variety of herbal therapies, including a kelp supplement, fish oil, ginkgo biloba and grape seed extract. The kelp supplement was the only herbal therapy she took regularly throughout the course of her illness.

    [snip]

    To assess the concentration of arsenic present in commercially available kelp supplements, the UC Davis investigators purchased nine over-the-counter kelp samples from local health food stores. Included were samples from three different batches of the product consumed by the patient.

    The researchers sent the samples to the California Animal Health & Food Safety Laboratory in Davis, which operates in partnership with UC Davis, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and others to provide specialized testing that helps protect both human and animal health. Investigators found detectable levels of arsenic in eight of the nine kelp supplements by using a hydride vapor generation method with an inductively coupled argon plasma spectrometer. Seven of the supplements exceeded the tolerance levels for food products set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    "Part of the problem," said Schenker, "is that the FDA has limited control over dietary supplements. It can't scrutinize products like herbal kelp before they enter the market, so it has to rely on adverse reports to determine product safety."

    He noted that none of the kelp products in the study had labels indicating the presence of arsenic, nor were there any warnings about the potential dangers of ingesting large quantities of the supplement.

    Arsenic is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in the environment and as a by-product of some agricultural and industrial activities. Due to high arsenic concentrations in algae and marine micro-organisms, seafood is the highest dietary source of arsenic for consumers. While long-term human exposure to arsenic from food sources such as fish does occur, it is usually significantly lower than anything approaching toxic levels. How-ever, dietary supplements, which are largely unregulated, have raised health concerns.
    Karlin
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    OMG!! That's scary!! I give Darby Solid Gold SeaMeal (a kelp product) with every meal! OMG!!

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    Brought this back to the top of the message list....

    Does anybody else use kelp supplements like SeaMeal??

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    I use seameal every single day :s

    It's one of the most highly recommended supplements out there.. ..

    I am wondering if it's specifically been tested ??
    Sara, mommy to Kosmo ~ 4 year blenheim boy and Faith 3 year b/t girl *rescue*

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    You would need to check the products tested and maybe some of the people using SeaMeal will want to see if a university lab would do a testing of this sort. I sure as heck would not be feeding something that could have arsenic concentrations, and not every day. I don't even know where the sudden fad for SeaMeal sprang up but it seems to have been one of those things that is stylish (and expensive!) at the moment.

    This is the problem with herbal supplements and similar treatments: *none of these are tested at all, in any way, and there are few to no controls on what is sold*. Testing on such products repeatedly show the levels of ingredients for many manifactrueres are way above or way below what they claim.

    Here is the real irony: at the moment, due to deaths from wheat gluten, people are concerned about the lack of control over ingredients going into commercial dog foods ... which ARE very tightly controlled during the manufactruing process... yet happily feed (or take themselves) supplements from places where there is NO control, NO testing, NO regulation.

    Think about it.

    The issue with kelp is that it naturally concentrates deposits of substances like arsenic, just as certain fatty fish get high concentrates of mercury in their flesh. If you are feeding dried concentrated powder, you increase the concentration of everything that was in that kelp.

    Another irony about this type of supplement which is usually promoted by the 'natural dog diet' contingent: dogs do not scavenge seaweed off the beach and eat it.... so why are people so concerned about GRAINS in dogfood -- which dogs WOULD eat 'in the wild' as people like to say (because they'd get grains in the stomach contents of the animals they'd eat). But they would NEVER eat a frond of kelp.

    I don't think supplements are all necessarily bad, I just think people feed regularly feed them blindly on the assumption that they must be good, often on the recommendation of someone on an internet list or board who themselves have no expertise in nutrition -- yet the same people would be rightly demanding about quality and controls in food manufacture. What people feed should be an educated choice and the current dog food scares should really have people looking at SUPPLEMENTS even more than dog food manufacturers, because supplements are routinely fed yet totally unregulated, with ingredients that often come from places that are also unregulated like China, and output NEVER has to be lab-tested for composition, consistency, etc. Common sense and caution seems to go out the window on the basis that if it comes from a health food store or holistic website ordering service, it must be good. People need to be as demanding of quality and lab testing for such products as they are for products that are more mainstream.

    A final point to keep in mind is that arsenic tolerances are probably quite different for dogs than humans -- and dogs have a tiny body mass compared to an adult human yet the same dose is often taken (eg 500mg of fish oil -- that is the adult size capsule but routinely given to dogs one tenth the size.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    I picked this supplement after seeing it recommended in so many different places including my own pet store. The thing that sealed the deal for me is that flax seed was the second ingredient and Faith's coat was all dried out. Kosmo doesn't eat it, just her (he doesn't ever eat anything other than his own food and he's too skinny right now so I don't want to jeopardize that). It's also rich in fiber.

    Now you've got me wondering though
    Sara, mommy to Kosmo ~ 4 year blenheim boy and Faith 3 year b/t girl *rescue*

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    Quote Originally Posted by karlin View Post
    This is the problem with herbal supplements and similar treatments: *none of these are tested at all, in any way, and there are few to no controls on what is sold*. Testing on such products repeatedly show the levels of ingredients for many manifactrueres are way above or way below what they claim.

    Here is the real irony: at the moment, due to deaths from wheat gluten, people are concerned about the lack of control over ingredients going into commercial dog foods ... which ARE very tightly controlled during the manufactruing process... yet happily feed (or take themselves) supplements from places where there is NO control, NO testing, NO regulation.
    Exactly. That was my feelings in the post discussing pet food manufacturers of not just kibble but homecooked retail sold varieties. There is good and bad in all scenarios of feeding ourselves or pets. Do your research, offer a mix of the best of both worlds and go drink tea. Tea solves all.

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