What You Should Know About Mercury in Fish & Shellfish

What You Should Know About Mercury in Fish & Shellfish

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  1. Fish and shellfish are essential to a healthy diet because they contain high quality protein that is low in fat, and high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Fish also contains many essential nutrients that are important to a healthy diet.

    Fish has been contributed to improving heart health and the proper growth and development of children.

    On the other hand, nearly all fish and shellfish contain concentrated levels of mercury in their bodies known as methylmercury.

    Methylmercury is a highly toxic organic compound of mercury.         

    Fish that are higher on the food chain tend to live longer to accumulate larger levels of methylmercury in their system.  This form of mercury is easily absorbed by fish, but slowly excreted.

    Methylmercury can be harmful for children, women who are pregnant or becoming pregnant, nursing moms, and for young children.

    Mercury affects the human body on a cellular level, hormonal level, and enzymatic levels. Therefore, the term micromercurialism is used to describe chronic low-level mercury toxicity.

    The signs and symptoms of mercury toxicity can be vague and non-specific in nature.


    ·         Sleep disorders

    ·         Irritable bowel syndrome

    ·         Autism

    ·         Chronic fatigue

    ·         Loss of sensation (Paresthesias and neuralgias)

    ·         Amyotropic lateral sclerosis

    ·         Ankylosing spondylitis

    ·         Myasthenia gravis

    ·         Vision, taste, smell and hearing disturbances

    ·         Vertigo and tinnitus

    ·         Multiple Sclerosis

    ·         Parkinson’s disease

    ·         Alzheimer’s disease

    ·         Other dementias

    ·         Hypothyroidism/Cold Extremities

    ·         Infertility

    ·         Poor libido

    ·         Impotency

    ·         Underactive thyroid

    ·         Other Endocrine problem

    ·         Hypertension

    ·         Fibromyalgia

    ·         Rheumatoid arthritis

    ·         Gastritis and Colitis


    According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, “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.
    2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
      • Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, Pollock, and catfish.
      • 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.
    3. 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, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.

    Follow these same recommendations when feeding fish and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions.”


    General treatment for mercury toxicity is done with the use of charcoal and a cathartic (laxative). 

    In addition, there are many herbal detoxification programs that are designed to cleanse the body of heavy metals such as excess iron, mercury, aluminum, and lead. 

    Although the presence of mercury in the body can cause many health issues, Harvard School of Public Health say that health benefits gained from fish outweighs the risks.

    According to Maximum Immunity (2009), editors of Prevention Magazine, “In fact, (Harvard School of Public Health) their study reported that overall mortality was 17 percent lower among people who ate fish twice a week, compared with people who ate little or no seafood.”

    Therefore, eating fish and shellfish is well worth the risk of toxicity, if no allergies to shellfish exit.

    Nutritionist and colonic therapist recommend regular herbal cleanses that helps the body with removal of mercury and other heavy metals that are absorbed from the atmosphere, drinking water, foods, and body care products (such as deodorant).

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