Persistent organic pollutants (PCDD/Fs, dioxin-like PCBs, marker PCBs, and PBDEs) in health supplements on the Spanish market

Chemosphere. 2010 Mar;78(10):1256-62. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.12.038. Epub 2010 Jan 25.


During the last years, consumption of health supplements has increased in our society. They are recommended as an additional source of minerals, vitamins, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, in the diet. A lot of these supplements contain oils among their components (fish oils or vegetable oils), especially those recommended for their omega-3 content. Due to their persistence and lipophilic characteristics, polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), marker PCBs, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) bioaccumulate in fat tissues, especially in those animals, as fish, which show low metabolic capability. Therefore, the consumption of nutritional supplements with oil components can increase the intake of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) through the diet. The aim of this study was to analyse 15 of these supplements commercialized in Spain to determinate their POPs concentrations and their intake for their consumers. Concentrations of POPs in the dietary supplements studied (PCDD/Fs: 0.04-2.4 pg TEQ g(-1); dl-PCBs: 0.01-12.1 pg TEQ g(-1); marker PCBs: 0.17-116 ng g(-1); and PBDEs: 0.07-18.2 ng g(-1)) were in the low-medium range of those reported in literature for other countries. Vegetable oil and mineral-based supplements showed concentrations of POPs clearly lower than those based on fish oil. Among these, those based on cod liver oil presented the highest concentrations detected in the study, exceeding the maximum levels established in European regulations for marine oils for human consumption. In general, the intake of POPs via the consumption of these supplements would be lower than the intake derived from fish consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzofurans / analysis*
  • Cod Liver Oil / chemistry
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / chemistry
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls / analysis*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analogs & derivatives*
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins / analysis
  • Polymers / analysis*
  • Spain
  • Vitamins / chemistry


  • Benzofurans
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Halogenated Diphenyl Ethers
  • Polychlorinated Dibenzodioxins
  • Polymers
  • Vitamins
  • polychlorodibenzofuran
  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls