One of the most powerful earthquakes and tsunamis on record shook the East Coast of Japan on the afternoon of March 11. As the Expo West show floor opened the morning of Saturday, March 12, a moment of silence was held over the public address system to honor those affected by the disaster.

Burlington, NJ-based Fuji Health Science, Inc. sent out an announcement that its production facilities in Japan are safe and far from harm’s way. Also reporting that its Japanese employees are fine is Atlas World USA, which unfortunately noted that its offices have been unable to connect to some clients living in the damaged areas.

Though an ocean away from any radiation leaked by Fukushima nuclear complex that was hit hard in the earthquakes, U.S. shoppers are stocking up on some supplements they see as protective against radiation. Some supplement sellers noted an up tick in sales from kelp and other green foods, according to Steven Hoffman of Compass Natural LLC, Boulder, CO. He states that  Natural Grocers of Longmont, CO, and a California-based Whole Foods Markets store sold out of such supplements, which shoppers believe will protect them from radiation poisoning.

And, according to a statement issued by vitamin E specialist A.C. Grace, “Two members of the natural vitamin E family, gamma-tocotrienol and delta-tocotrienol are showing great promise as radioprotectants.” Such research was conducted by the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI) in Bethesda, MD, on mice.

Also of interest to radiation-fearing shoppers are potassium iodide supplements, which could helps protect the thyroid in case of radiation exposure. “The Union of Concerned Scientists says ‘it's highly unlikely’ people in the U.S. need the pills, and that available pills should first be given to people in Japan,” according to a March 17 report on National Public Radio.

To date, U.S. officials say there is little threat of radiation fallout to those living on the West Coast. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also stated that there is no risk to the U.S. food supply and will be looking into food products imported from Japan.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, May 2011 (online 3/21/11)