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Myths and facts: “Fish contains a large amount of mercury”

10/09/2015

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What is Mercury and where does it originate from?

Mercury is a naturally occurring toxic metal that exists at low levels throughout the environment, and as an element it never breaks down or disappears. Mercury cycles through the environment, passing between the air, land and water, and affects plants and animals. Mercury enters streams, rivers, lakes and oceans primarily through rain and surface water runoff. Bacteria can then convert it to an organic form called methylmercury — the form that is dangerous to people.

Does seafood contain high levels of mercury? It’s really not much of an argument anymore, but this long-time myth still lingers despite mountains of evidence that the health benefits of eating fish far outweigh the largely unproven risks associated with trace amounts of organic methylmercury in seafood. This conclusion, according to the National Fisheries Institute, has been reaffirmed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) and countless other institutions. Seafood, as we know, protects against heart disease , depression, dementia and premature death. Conclusive evidence even shows that not eating enough fish can cause dangerous health consequences. For example seafood also helps with childrens cognitive development.

However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

By following these three recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

1) Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

2) Six of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, cod, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

3) Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, or seafood that has been processed with the proper systems and tools available.

We at Crabit recommend Atlantic cod and Red Kinkg Crab for both their nutritious traits as well as their low consentration of mercury. And for their sublime taste as well.

Citations:
http://seafoodinternationaldigital.com/tag/seafood-myths/
http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/outreach/advice_index.cfm
http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/guide.asp
http://seafood.edf.org/mercury-seafood

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