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  • Fish consumption and mercury

    We eat a lot of fish and somone mentioned that by doing so we're greatly increasing the mercury load in our bodies.

    In the US pregnant women are recommended to consume no more than 12 ounces of fish per week to avoid too much mercury- as mercury can affect the baby's developing nervous system.

    I'm not pregnant, just wondering about the differences between US guidelines for pregnant (or breastfeeding) mothers vs. those in Japan. And if Japan's guidelines allowe for frequent fish consumption by mothers, do they have much higher rates of abnormalities in neonates due to the mercury? Anyone know?

    I'm still nursing my three year old, and don't plan on reducing my fish consumption. She herself eats a ton, and her five year old sister lives on fish. I couldn't imagine eating less than 12 ounces per week.

  • #2
    Originally posted by keevelish View Post
    I'm not pregnant, just wondering about the differences between US guidelines for pregnant (or breastfeeding) mothers vs. those in Japan. And if Japan's guidelines allowe for frequent fish consumption by mothers, do they have much higher rates of abnormalities in neonates due to the mercury? Anyone know?
    Well, I don't know that, but what we do know is that selenium has a high affinity for binding to mercury, so as long as you eat fish with higher amounts of selenium it won't be a problem. I don't worry about it at all since we don't eat fish with a low selenium to mercury ratio

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    • #3
      Not all fish are created equal. They say to avoid big ocean fish like tuna although even among tuna, albacore is the worst and light tuna are smaller fish so less mercury. Basically, the higher up in the food chain the fish is, the more mercury it is likely to contain (mackerel, shark, tilefish, tuna, swordfish).

      I myself don't eat red meat or poultry so fish is my main source of protein. I think wild Alaskan salmon is the best and most sustainable but definitely avoid Atlantic salmon (i.e. farmed salmon).

      Below is a list of fish categorized from the least contaminated to the highest.

      Mercury Levels in Fish | NRDC

      Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish
      Last edited by Fiji; 12-26-2011, 06:26 AM.

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      • #4
        Oh yes, and sardines are also a great (cheaper) option and on the lowest mercury list.
        Last edited by Fiji; 12-26-2011, 06:27 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by keevelish View Post
          We eat a lot of fish and somone mentioned that by doing so we're greatly increasing the mercury load in our bodies.

          In the US pregnant women are recommended to consume no more than 12 ounces of fish per week to avoid too much mercury- as mercury can affect the baby's developing nervous system.

          I'm not pregnant, just wondering about the differences between US guidelines for pregnant (or breastfeeding) mothers vs. those in Japan. And if Japan's guidelines allowe for frequent fish consumption by mothers, do they have much higher rates of abnormalities in neonates due to the mercury? Anyone know?

          I'm still nursing my three year old, and don't plan on reducing my fish consumption. She herself eats a ton, and her five year old sister lives on fish. I couldn't imagine eating less than 12 ounces per week.
          The absorbtion of mercury is directly related to the quantity of selenium in said fish. There is really not that much too worry about unless you are eating kliller whale meat (low in selinium). The original study that scared the crap out of people with regard to mercury was done on killer whale meat. Read this article for more insight:

          Is eating fish safe? A lot safer than not eating fish!

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          • #6
            Oh,neat, thanks!

            I'm not personally concerned about my fish intake. But I like arguing, hahah.

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            • #7
              The WHO guidelines admit that exposure to mercury from amalgam fillings is on average 20 x that of exposure from fish intake.

              The WHO advises pregnant women to limit their weekly consumption of fish to 2-3 portions, yet it does not advise to replace amalgam fillings prior to conceiving, nor does it advise against getting amalgam fillings during pregnancy.

              Something doesn't add up... especially when one takes into account the amazing health benefits of omega 3 in oily fish.

              Still, I'd say, go careful with tuna. Wild Alaskan salmon is one of the best foods for benefitting your baby's eye and brain development due to the omega 3 content and the mercury content is nothing to worry about.
              F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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              • #8
                This is something I have worried about too. Thanks for the good info guys, that was all interesting to read! Really appreciate you guys clearing that one up a bit.
                Check out my blog at www.themedstudentblog.blogspot.com

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Karma View Post
                  The absorbtion of mercury is directly related to the quantity of selenium in said fish. There is really not that much too worry about unless you are eating kliller whale meat (low in selinium). The original study that scared the crap out of people with regard to mercury was done on killer whale meat. Read this article for more insight:

                  Is eating fish safe? A lot safer than not eating fish!
                  Thanks for the Chris Kresser link. That is an interesting site. I like his science based approach.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
                    Thanks for the Chris Kresser link. That is an interesting site. I like his science based approach.
                    Chris is really smart, kind of dry, but really on top of his game. His podcast (healthy sceptic) has some really good discussions.

                    Dave

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                    • #11
                      To be honest, most people who eat primal are either extremely healthy, or are truly nourishing their bodies with so many nutrients, your body will be able to quickly expel any toxins in most foods.

                      However, some people are probably in horrible health, hence why they may have found this diet to begin with, and thus may be temporarily sensitive to such toxins.

                      I used to be that type of person...but I am now finding my health becoming much more superior and am now able to enjoy these foods with fewer side effects. FYI, I've been following a strict version of Paleo for about 1.5 years...And combined the ideas of this diet with supplements to follow a detoxification protocol, which is more of a lifestyle for me than it is some protocol.

                      Hope this helps! =)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Karma View Post
                        The absorbtion of mercury is directly related to the quantity of selenium in said fish.[/url]
                        Would it help to eat something like Brazil nuts (loaded with selenium) with your fish? Or does the selenium need to be in the fish itself?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sunnivara View Post
                          Would it help to eat something like Brazil nuts (loaded with selenium) with your fish? Or does the selenium need to be in the fish itself?
                          You're best off avoiding fish high in mercury as they are usually high in other pollutants too. Avoid the top-feeders like tuna, shark, swordfish as they acccumulate high levels of toxins throughout their lifespan.

                          I don't buy this theory of selenium blocking mercury absorption as I get obvious symptoms of mercury poisoning when I eat a lot of tuna.

                          I'm one of those people who can't detox mercury easily due to a genetic condition.
                          F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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