Nearly everyone these days know that certain fish are toxic in mercury, but not many people really understand what type of fish we need to avoid, and what contain the least mercury that are safe for regular consumption.
One of the major sources of mercury is eating contaminated fish. The mercury gets into the fish through air pollution from coal-burning power plants and factories. This pollution can travel thousands of miles then settle into lakes, rivers, and oceans, where it is absorbed or ingested by small organisms and then starts working its way up the food chain, its concentration rising with each step.
Big predatory fish, like sharks or tuna, can have especially high concentrations in their bodies.
Methylmercury which is found in fish is a dangerous neurotoxin that can disrupt brain function and harm the nervous system, as it has a natural affinity for fatty tissue like the brain.
Why Is Methylmercury Dangerous?
Methylmercury bonds with sulphur-proteins and generates free radicals, destroys microtubules can be a trigger for autoimmune diseases.
Methylmercury can cause the following ailments:
• cerebral palsy
• growth problems
• intellectual disability
• hearing loss
• ataxia (loss of voluntary coordination of muscle movements)
• muscle tremor
• paralysis (with severe poisoning)
• death (with severe poisoning)
• heart disease (some very new research suggests that methylmercury may contribute to atherosclerosis)
These ailments can also apply to the unborn child in the womb, so pregnant women need to be extra careful regarding what kind of fish they eat. young children.
Mercury is generally excreted by the liver and kidneys, but it has a particularly long half-life in the body, lingering for a long time. Methylmercury is almost completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and is very good at crossing the blood-brain barrier, making the brain and spinal cord particularly sensitive to its effects.
How Does Mercury Get into Fish
The concentration of mercury in the ocean has tripled since the start of the Industrial Revolution. When we burn a lump of coal for energy, significant amounts of mercury are released into the atmosphere. Coal-fired power plants emit more than 500 tons of mercury per year worldwide. But this is not the only source of mercury – the biggest polluter is artisanal gold mining.
Artisanal mining is a crude form of mineral extraction, typically undertaken by poor miners in marginalized communities in Asia, Africa, and South America. Many of the 10 million artisanal miners worldwide are women and children, who mix mercury with a gold-containing compound to draw out the precious metal. They then burn the mixture, which isolates the gold and sends mercury vapor into the air. This process contributes 800 tons of mercury to the atmosphere annually.
Weather changes such as rain, snow, and dust bring the mercury vapor into the ocean, where bacteria consume the mercury and convert it into methylmercury. Plankton eat the bacteria, small fish eat the plankton, large fish eat the small fish…and the mercury accumulates in higher concentrations as it travels up the food chain. Eventually, it winds up in tuna, swordfish, and other large fish which are high up in the food chain.
You can’t see, smell, or taste mercury contamination in fish. Cooking has no effect on it, and you can’t avoid it by cutting off the skin or other parts of the fish. But you don’t need to eliminate fish altogether to stay in the mercury safe zone. Below are a few general rules of thumb.
Smaller Fish are Better
As a general rule, smaller fish and crustaceans such as squid, scallops, sardines and other wild sea fish that are small contain less mercury than larger varieties like tune and swordfish, which are higher up the food chain.
When bigger fish eat smaller ones, the predators also absorb their prey’s toxic metal contamination in a process known as biomagnification. So, when a tuna eats a number of anchovies, the tuna is accumulating the mercury of those anchovies into its own body. You can see the diagram below of the Mercury Cycle which makes it easier to understand.
Specifically Which Fish are Best?
The best way of illustrating which fish are bad and which are good, is to name the fish that have the least mercury vs the most in a chart such as the one below. To summarize, however, see the following list below which indicates the amounts of mercury in each fish in parts per million levels – about 3 ppm of mercury is the highest acceptable level. Those wanting a more detailed chart can download the FDA Monitoring Program for mercury in fish.
• Swordfish: 0.995 ppm
• Shark: 0.979 ppm
• King mackerel: 0.730 ppm
• Bigeye tuna: 0.689 ppm
• Marlin: 0.485 ppm
• Canned tuna: 0.128 ppm
• Cod: 0.111 ppm
• American lobster: 0.107 ppm
• Whitefish: 0.089 ppm
• Herring: 0.084 ppm
• Hake: 0.079 ppm
• Trout: 0.071 ppm
• Crab: 0.065 ppm
• Haddock: 0.055 ppm
• Whiting: 0.051 ppm
• Atlantic mackerel: 0.050 ppm
• Crayfish: 0.035 ppm
• Pollock: 0.031 ppm
• Catfish: 0.025 ppm
• Squid: 0.023 ppm
• Salmon: 0.022 ppm
• Anchovies: 0.017 ppm
• Sardines: 0.013 ppm
• Oysters: 0.012 ppm
• Scallops: 0.003 ppm
• Shrimp: 0.001 ppm
Below are some general guidelines to follow to avoid the ingestion of mercury from fish:
Fish with Lowest Amounts of Mercury
Eat two to three servings a week of the following fish (pregnant women and small children should not eat more than 12 ounces or two servings):
• Croaker (Atlantic)
• Mackerel (North Atlantic, Chub)
• Perch (The FDA lists this on the low list, but the NDRC lists it as moderate or high)
Fish With Modest Amounts of Mercury
Eat six servings or fewer per month (pregnant women and small children should avoid these):
• Bass (Saltwater, Striped, Black)
• Cod (Alaskan)
• Mahi Mahi
• Perch (freshwater)
• Tilefish (Atlantic)
• Tuna (canned chunk light)
Fish High in Mercury
Eat three servings or less per month (pregnant women and small children should avoid these):
• Sea Bass (Chilean)
• Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
• Croaker (White, Pacific)
• Perch (ocean)
• Tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin)
Fish Highest in Mercury
The FDA lists these choices to avoid eating:
• King mackerel
• Orange Roughy
• Tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico)
• Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)
• Bluefish and grouper: The National Resources Defense Council adds these to the list of those to avoid.
Watch this VIDEO and learn how to help protect fish and ocean animals by making good decisions when purchasing seafood. The decisions you make when choosing seafood at grocery stores and restaurants directly impact the health of our oceans. Seafood Watch provides recommendations based on scientific research and strict fishing/farming sustainability criteria.
Check your mercury levels
If you have concerns about your mercury consumption, there is a simple Hair Tissue Analysis that you can do to determine not only mercury levels but many other toxic metals, as well as a full mineral profile.
Why not undergo a Toxic Metal Detox
Reading this article, one can conclude that if you have been eating fish, the likelihood is that you have some mercury stored in your body.
This is why it is important to be proactive and begin a toxic metal detox protocol for all the family. The question, is what is the best choice of a heavy metal detox product as there are so many on the market?
It is best to eliminate heavy metals naturally using a proven toxic metal formulations such as HMD™.
This can be used by all the family and there are also children’s dosages too.
Natural heavy metal detox using HMD™ – designed for eliminating heavy metals naturally!
HMD™ is a Heavy Metal Detox formulation for removing heavy metals from body!
Try a Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie regularly to maintain optimal health and well-being – you can then eat whatever fish you like without worrying about toxic metals staying in the body!