Mercury Toxicity in Fish
GENERAL TUNA ADVISORY
Consumers Union in
(site registration required) believes "vulnerable individuals" should limit their intake
of tuna based on the EPA guidelines. Usually we think of such individuals as small children and pregnant women. I would certainly expand that list to include any person with a debilitating illness, such as arthritis, and someone facing or recovering from major surgery. Consumers Union suggests these individuals avoid fish with higher mercury levels.
Good choices with little methylmercury that they recommend include
butterfish, flounder, haddock, herring, king crab, mullet, sardines,
scallops, shrimp, and tilapia. For radiant health, I think all individuals should limit their intake of this known toxin.
So what is a safe portion of tuna? Consumers Union gives these examples:
A 132-pound woman could consume up to 9 ounces of light tuna or 5 ounces of
white tuna a week (assuming no other mercury-bearing fish is eaten). That's
about two cans of light tuna or one can of white a week, given that a
6-ounce can usually has about 4 1/2 to 5 ounces of tuna meat after the
liquid is drained.
A 44-pound child could eat only 3 ounces of light tuna or 1 1/2 ounces of
white a week; in other words, one tuna sandwich weekly.
SEAFOOD WARNING FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
On January 12, 2001, government health officials issued new advisories warning women to limit fish consumption during pregnancy to avoid exposing their unborn children to unsafe levels of methylmercury. Methylmercury can cross the placenta and cause learning deficits and developmental delays in children who are exposed even to relatively low levels in the womb. The principal exposure route for the fetus is fish consumption by the mother.
Below is a summary of the findings of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as listed in an April, 2001 report issued by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG). For the complete text of the report, visit the following webpage:
http://pirg.org/toxics/reports/index.html. The article is entitled: Brain Food: What Women Should Know About Mercury Contamination In Fish
FISH LOWEST IN MERCURY - safe options for pregnant women
Salmon (wild Pacific)
Blue crab (mid-Atlantic)
NO MORE THAN ONE SERVING FROM THIS LIST PER MONTH
Great Lakes salmon
Gulf Coast blue crab
Channel catfish (wild)
AVOID IF PREGNANT
Gulf Coast oysters
Thanks to Shane Hoffman and Elisabeth Thomas-Matej for suggestions for this page.
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