I’ve heard there are risks from eating too much fish?

The most common concern about consuming seafood is mercury. Doctors, dieticians, and health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the Mayo Clinic agree that, for most individuals, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh any risks. Both the EPA and the FDA advise that for most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern.
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic Omega-3

American Heart Association
AHA Nutrition Center Fish 101


The Facts

Mercury is an element (Hg on the periodic table) naturally present in the air, water, and soil. While it exists naturally in several forms, human activities such as the burning of coal increase the amount of mercury present in the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans.

How does mercury get into our food? Tiny organisms ingest mercury when they feed and it simply works its way up the food chain to larger and larger species. The resulting methylmercury can build up in animals including fish and shellfish depending on what they eat, how long they live, and how high they are in the food chain.

While for most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern, the FDA does make the following recommendation to women who may become pregnant, are pregnant, or who are nursing, as well as young children:

  • Avoid fish such as Swordifsh, Shark, King Mackerel and Tilefish
  • Eat up to 12oz a week of a variety of fish or shellfish that are lower in mercury (most commonly shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish)
  • Eat no more than 6oz (one average meal) per week of fish caught by family or friends (if no local advisory about safety is available)
  • Eat up to 6oz of albacore tuna a week (a traditionally larger, more mature fish which may contain higher levels of mercury that light tuna)
Selenium & Mercury

Ocean fish are one of the riches sources of Selenium (Selenocysteine) the 21st amino acid discovered not quit 30 years ago. Essential to humans, Selenium is important for the brain, heart, and immune system. Studies have shown that Selenium sequesters heavy metals including Mercury and can protect against Mercury toxicity.


Interested in learning more?

Fish, Mercury & Nutrition
Selenium & Mercury

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