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How Much Seafood is Safe To Eat?

mercury in seafood

We all know that fish and shellfish is supposed to be really good for us. Not only are they full of lots of good fatty acids, such as Omega 3, they are also farmed more responsibly than say battery chickens and other such animals. However, fish and shellfish live in our waters and they have been polluted over time. One of the pollutants that is of particular concern is mercury, and methylmercury is the most worrisome.

The reason why this is of such concern is because fish and shellfish actually concentrate this heavy metal in their body.

Hence, when we consume them, we also ingest this poison because they are classed as high mercury seafood and fish. Unsurprisingly, the longer a fish lives, the more mercury it will contain. Hence, there are a number of fish that are known to have higher levels of mercury within them, including tuna, marlin, swordfish, shark, tilefish (found only in the Gulf of Mexico), king mackerel, lake trout and northern pike. These are all fish that are higher up in the food chain as well. These fish should only be consumed in moderation. The mercury in fish can be of particular concern for women who are pregnant, intend to get pregnant and/or are breastfeeding, as well as young children.

Mercury in Heavier People
It seems that there is a benefit to being overweight or obese, that being that these people have a higher tolerance to mercury than those who are thin. As such, overweight people do not necessarily have to look for low mercury fish. The World Health Organization has explained this and the Food and Drug Administration and the US Environmental Protection Agency have used this knowledge to make certain recommendations. As such, overweight and obese people can eat fish twice a week, normal weight people once a week and pregnant women, the elderly and the very young should avoid them completely:

Which Fish to Eat and Which to Avoid
Fish that should be avoided as much as possible because it is high mercury fish includes swordfish, shark, tilefish and mackerel, as these have the highest levels of mercury within them. Safe seafood to eat can be eaten as much as we want includes salmon, shrimp, Pollock, canned light tuna and catfish. Most people would be perfectly safe eating these every day.

The Health Benefits of Fish
There are many fantastic health benefits to eating fish, as described earlier. They are full of vitamins and minerals that protect our bodies as well as our internal organs. Some even say that fish makes your brain function better due to the Omega 3. This has not been scientifically proven yet, but it is clear that people should include fish in their diet as much as possible.

Fish and Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is important to be entirely safe. The recommendation is that pregnant women should not consume more than 340 grams (12 ounces) of fish every week. This equates to around two average meals a day, meaning that pregnant women can still enjoy fish if they so choose.

However, there is some controversy about this research, with some saying that the scientific evidence was flawed and that there is no reason for pregnant women to reduce their intake of fish at all because the levels of mercury in seafood are negligible. It seems that, at the moment, all we really have to go by is our opinion. However, it is generally best to find out which safe fish to eat just in case and to stick to low mercury seafood whenever possible.

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