Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fish or Famine: Mercury in Our Seafood

By Ashleigh Schuddekopf

When being conscious of your diet, people tell you to enjoy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and fish. Fish has a reputation of being healthy, full of protein, and generally good for you.

However, there is another side of seafood that is less explored. What many companies and restaurants don’t tell you is that there are high levels of methylmercury or “mercury”, which is an organometallic (combination of carbon and metal) cation (electrical charge) with the formula [CH3Hg]+ in the fish. This is a bioaccumulative toxicant that exists naturally in our environment.

The way this poison gets into our seafood is due to its accumulation in streams and oceans. Each fish absorbs all the mercury from the smaller fish or organisms it has eaten, which causes it to be a wide-spreading issue.

Everyone is at risk whenever they eat fish, however the most sensitive are those whom consume fish regularly, young children, and pregnant or nursing women.
Fish that has the most mercury are Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, Tilefish, Snapper, Cod, Tuna, and Mahi Mahi.

There are many dangerous risks of having high levels of mercury in your system. Some include blurred vision, depression, paraesthesia (a pricking, tingling or creeping sensation on the skin), memory loss, and coordination.

There are simple ways to avoid getting sick from fish. First keep your intake in moderation—there is nothing wrong with seafood, however consuming too much can become a concern. Unless the FDA advises you not to eat fish in your area, you are OKAY to eat it. Limit your consumption to 12 ounces a week. Only eat canned “white” tuna.

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