High Mercury Content in Fish

Mercury Content in FishMercury, once known as quicksilver, is in electrical and electronic applications, thermometers, and as gaseous mercury in fluorescent lamps. Over the last century, mercury released into the air or in industrial waste has accumulated in every stream, river and ocean on the planet. Fish raised in these waters absorb or consume plants which have absorbed mercury and the heavy metal becomes a part of their flesh resulting in high mercury content.

Is high mercury content dangerous? 

Mercury builds up in your body over time, just as it does in fish. Once it reaches toxic levels following repeated doses and duration of exposure, a build-up of mercury will impair a person’s memory, their ability to learn, and their behavior. Mercury can also damage the heart and immune system, and even in the smallest of quantities, this heavy metal can cause birth defects in fetuses exposed in the womb and in breastfed newborns whose mothers’ milk contains mercury from consuming fish.

Choose your fish wisely. Fish is a lean and natural protein, low in saturated fat yet high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Replacing meat with fish can be a healthy choice for you and your family. Unfortunately the fish you feed your family may be high in dangerous and toxic heavy metals including mercury content.

Virtually ALL fish contain traces of mercury. 

The level of mercury varies depending on the size and type of fish and the levels of pollutants in their habitat. Large fish that live and feed longer will have higher (and more dangerous) levels of mercury and should be avoided. These fish include:

  • King Mackerel
  • Shark
  • Marlin
  • Orange Roughy
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna, both Ahi and Bigeye

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that the following fish be consumed occasionally (up to 3 times each month) as part of your healthy diet to reduce high mercury content build up.

  • Grouper
  • Bluefish
  • Gulf Mackerel
  • Sea Bass
  • Canned Tuna (Albacore and Yellowfin)

Healthier fish choices, those which contain the lowest levels of toxic mercury and which should be a part of your nutritious, balanced diet include:

  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Flounder
  • Wild Salmon
  • Sole
  • Haddock

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that women who may become pregnant, are pregnant, are nursing mothers, and their young children should avoid most types of fish and eat only fish and shellfish that are known to be lower in mercury.

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