Do you Avoid Fish Due to Mercury

Do you Avoid Fish Due to Mercury

Fish is one of the healthiest food on the earth because it is a good source of proteins, essential fatty acids and trace minerals. Despite  its health benefits, it also contains toxics pollutants (mercury, and PCBs) that are health hazardous. But you shouldn’t be afraid of eating fish. In fact, it is recommended that one should consume 2-3 servings of fish twice a week. In this article, you will know whether you should avoid mercury or not.

Why Mercury Is a Problem

Mercury is a naturally occurring toxic metal found in air, water, and soil. Its artificial sources are industrial processes like burning coal or natural events(eruption). Three main forms of mercury exist — elemental (metallic), inorganic, and organic People can be exposed to this toxin in several ways, such as breathing in mercury vapors during mining, industrial work or consuming high mercury fishes such as shellfish Over time, methylmercury — the organic form — can accumulate in their bodies.

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Why Mercury Is a Problem

Some fishes contain high mercury means higher than the upper limit (0.5 ppm).  One study discovered that 1/3rd of fish caught on the New Jersey shore had mercury levels higher than this upper limit- a level that causes health issues.The level of mercury in fish and other seafood depends on the species and the levels of pollution in its environment. Overall, larger and longer-lived fish such as shark, swordfish, fresh tuna, marlin, king mackerel, etc is higher in mercury.  The reason behind the high mercury content in large fish is due to the reliance on its small fishes which contain traces of mercury. As it does not readily excrete from their bodies. Instead of it accumulate their and their accumulation level increases over time. This process is known as bioaccumulation.

Here are some fishes which contain a higher level of mercury such as

  • Swordfish: 0.995 ppm
  • Shark: 0.979 ppm
  • King mackerel: 0.730 ppm
  • Bigeye tuna: 0.689 ppm

Accumulation in Fish and Humans

It is discussed earlier that larger fishes tend to contain more mercury than smaller fishes. These fishes may contain mercury concentrations up to 10 times higher than the fish they consume. This process is called biomagnification Even though, the smaller fishes also contain small amounts of mercury which also cause serious health problems.U.S. government agencies strictly recommend keeping your blood mercury levels below 5.0 mcg per liter

Negative Health Effects

Exposure to mercury can cause serious health problems in both humans and animals, especially mental health issues A case study of 129 Brazilian adults found that higher levels of mercury in hair were associated with a decrease in fine motor skills, dexterity, memory, and attention. Recent studies linked the exposure of  heavy metals — such as mercury — with conditions like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, mercury exposure is also associated with high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attacks, and higher “bad” LDL cholesterol  One study in 1,800 men revealed that those with the highest levels of mercury were 2 times more likely to die from heart-related problems than men with lower levels

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Some People Are at a Greater Risk

The people who are at a greater risk include vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, breastfeeding women, infant and, young children. One study indicated that fetus who exposed to mercury will have a chance to struggle with attention, memory, language, and motor function in its childhood. Moreover, some studies found that certain ethnic groups — including Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders — have a greater risk of mercury exposure due to diets traditionally high in fish.

Change your Eating Habits to Reduce Mercury Poisoning

To avoid the risk of mercury poisoning, the FDA advises vulnerable groups such as nursing mothers, pregnant women and children to keep the following recommendations in mind

  • Eat 2–3 servings (227–340 grams) of a variety of fish per week.
  • Consume lower-mercury fish and seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, cod, and sardines.
  • Avoid higher-mercury fish, such as tilefish from the, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
  • When choosing fresh fish, consult fish advisories for those particular streams or lakes.

Following these tips minimizing your risks of mercury exposure

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