Health Topics

  1. #
  2. A
  3. B
  4. C
  5. D
  6. E
  7. F
  8. G
  9. H
  10. I
  11. J
  12. K
  13. L
  14. M
  15. N
  16. O
  17. P
  18. Q
  19. R
  20. S
  21. T
  22. U
  23. V
  24. W
  25. X
  26. Y
  27. Z
Browse All Topics

DDT in Fish Oil Supplements

Though banned decades ago, the pesticide DDT persists in the food supply.

December 9, 2009 |
GD Star Rating


Supplementary Info

Sources Cited



What about fish oil capsules? Packed with PCBs and insecticides, but which is worse? Fish, seal, or shark oil capsules?
Well, for PCBs, here’s how much is in fish, but seals eat fish. And sharks eat seals. And then if we eat sharks, that puts us precipitously at the top of the food chain.
What about pesticides, like DDT? Though banned decades ago after Silent Spring came out, it’s still found in the food chain, and will be for another few centuries, but no worries. If you trusted the chemical companies at the time, you’d know that DDT was good for you. And our baby.
Similarly, if you trust the tuna companies, tuna’s safe for both mom and baby—and teddy bear! According to the Tuna Council, it’s not just safe but a healthy choice, providing a boost for your baby’s brain.
Same corporate playbook. The only difference is now they’ve learned to use nicer names for their companies, like Starkist. Harder to get nursing mothers to trust you when your company’s called Killing Salt Chemicals.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out theother videos on fish oil. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on fish oil. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • yummy

    Just wondering if Krill Oil supplements are any better than fish oil capsules. Do you have any suggestions on the best way to get the benefits of fish without actually eating it?

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      The longest study I could find done on krill oil was only 3 months in duration, so long-term effectiveness and safety is unknown, but recent short-term studies suggest that krill oil would have comparable bioavailability and metabolic effects. They are lower on the food chain and would be expected to have lower levels of accumulated pollutants, though an upcoming paper in Environmental Pollution suggests that they do take up DDT metabolites. When it comes to industrial toxins, always seek as low as you can go on the food chain, in this case, algae that produce bioequivalent long-chain omega-3′s. Check out videos like Algae-Based DHA vs. Flax and The Problem with Organic Salmon.

      As an aside, you never know what you’re going to run into in the medical literature. In looking up krill oil for you I stumbled across a paper in the Journal of Plankton Research published this year (with pictures!) entitled: Ocean-bottom krill sex.