Mercury in Fish
About Mercury – The Dangers
Mercury is one of the most hazardous metals known to man alongside Cadmium, Lead, Titanium, Arsenic and more! The danger of this metal cannot be emphasized enough. Over exposure of mercury can critically damage or completely damage the brain and kidneys. Methylmercury is the form of mercury that is found in fish.
Mercury in Fish - Health Effects Of Mehtlymercury
The type of mercury found in fish is organic in nature; is called ‘methylmercury’ which is considered to be the most dangerous forms of mercury. This mercury is absorbed by fish through their gills when they feed and swim. Fish is a very rich source of a variety of nutrients and is part of the staple diet in many countries; however, nearly all kinds of fishes have traces of mercury.
Methylmercury has the ability to harm unborn babies. A pregnant woman who consumes too much fish during her pregnancy or nursing is putting her baby in serious danger. Methylmercury harms above 630,000 newborns each year, negatively impacting the brain and nervous system maturity. The exposure of methlymercury harms the baby in a number of ways; increases the chances of disability, impairs cognitive thinking, impairs recollection/memory, impaired speech and the motor skills.
In adults, consumption of methylmercury has been linked to an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
Mercury in Fish
Mercury and Pregnant Women
Doctors say that the amount of fish that a pregnant woman consumes should be limited. This is because the baby is at risk of mercury exposure. When a pregnant woman consumes a lot of fish, the mercury levels in the body increase, this mercury can be passed on to the baby. The fetus is very sensitive to mercury especially in the first trimester. Too much mercury exposure can be harmful to the unborn child since it can fatally affect the brain and nervous system. Unborn children who are exposed to too much mercury usually have difficulty in developing mentally and face problems doing simple tasks such as walking and talking. World Health Organization and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conducted a study which suggested the amount of fish considered to be safe for pregnant women. The study suggested that 2-3 serving of fish per week is safe for the mother and child both, however the mother should avoid fishes which have very high amount of mercury such as Shellfish.
Mercury and Children
High levels of mercury can be destructive to a child’s health. Babies are most vulnerable to mercury since this the time when their brain is developing. The FDA advisory said that a child can have up to two servings of fish per week with the exception of - Shark and Swordfish which should be avoided. So the question arises - why not just eliminate fish completely from a child’s diet? The answer to that is that fish is a rich source of nutrients especially Omega-3 fatty acids which a child needs.
Another reason for not avoiding fish totally was given by Charles Santerre, professor of food toxicology at Purdue University "It's not necessary – or even possible – to avoid all exposure to mercury. There are low amounts that are not harmful, if a parent stops feeding a child fish to avoid mercury, the child may miss out on the healthy nutrients that fish provides.”
Fish and Mercury Level
The mercury level differs in different types of fish.
- Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
- Tuna (Skipjack)
- Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
- Tuna (Canned Albacore)
- Mackerel (King)