What's the Buzz on Mercury in Fish

Mercury levels in fish and toxicity has been a longstanding debate within the scientific community. A recent study led by Dr. Graham N. George of Stanford University concluded that the mercury present in fish is about 20 times less toxic than previously thought. Before this study, scientists and public health experts had assumed that mercury existed in fish in a very toxic form called methyl-mercury chloride, a byproduct of coal and oil fired power plants. Dr. George’s study proves that the mercury in fish takes the form of methyl-mercury cysteine, which is significantly (20 times) less toxic than methyl-mercury chloride. Regardless of its form however, mercury is a neurotoxin and can cause damage to the brain and to the nervous system. A catch-22 since seafood, known to contain an abundance of “heart helping” omega-3 fats can also contain high levels of mercury which we still know little about. MY RECOMMENDATION: Get your dose of omega-3’s from fish and other seafood’s that are considered to contain low levels of mercury. These include:
  • Blue Crab (mid-Atlantic)
  • Catfish (farmed)
  • Croaker (not white)
  • Fish Sticks
  • Flounder
  • Haddock
  • Salmon (farmed or wild)
  • Shrimp
  • Trout (farmed)
Seafood and fish that are considered to have high levels of mercury include:
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • King Mackerel
  • Fresh Tuna
Additional Tips For men, older children, and women above child bearing age: Limit high mercury fish to no more than one serving per week; no need to limit other fish. For women of childbearing age and young children: Do not eat high-mercury fish at all. Eat up to 12 ounces a week from a variety of other fish.


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