Types of Fish with Mercury

Quick Read show Introduction What is Mercury? How Does Mercury Get into Fish? What are the Health Effects of Mercury in Fish? Which Types of

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Introduction

Sobat Penurut, did you know that eating fish can be both healthy and risky? While fish is a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients, it can also contain mercury, a toxic metal that can harm your brain, nervous system, and other organs. Therefore, it is important to know which types of fish are high in mercury and which ones are safe to eat. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on the types of fish with mercury, their risks and benefits, and how to make informed choices when buying and consuming fish.

What is Mercury?

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in air, water, and soil. It can also be released into the environment by human activities such as coal burning, mining, and waste disposal. Once mercury enters the environment, it can be transformed into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that can accumulate in fish and other organisms. When humans eat contaminated fish, they can be exposed to methylmercury, which can cause neurological, developmental, and cardiovascular problems, especially in fetuses, infants, and young children.

How Does Mercury Get into Fish?

Mercury can enter fish through several pathways, such as:

  • Direct deposition from the air or water
  • Conversion of inorganic mercury in sediments into methylmercury by bacteria
  • Uptake of methylmercury by phytoplankton, which are then eaten by zooplankton, small fish, and larger fish
  • Bioaccumulation and biomagnification along the food chain, where predators accumulate higher levels of mercury than their prey

What are the Health Effects of Mercury in Fish?

The health effects of mercury in fish depend on several factors, such as:

  • The amount and frequency of fish consumption
  • The type and size of fish
  • The age, weight, and health status of the person
  • The exposure to other sources of mercury, such as dental fillings, cosmetics, and contaminated water

Some of the health effects of mercury in fish include:

  • Impaired cognitive function, memory, and attention
  • Delayed language development and learning disabilities
  • Reduced IQ and academic achievement
  • Behavioral and emotional problems
  • Numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hands and feet
  • Tremors, seizures, and paralysis
  • Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reproductive and developmental problems, such as infertility and birth defects

Which Types of Fish are High in Mercury?

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some of the types of fish with high levels of mercury are:

Fish Mercury Level (ppm)
Swordfish 0.97
Shark 0.99
King mackerel 0.73
Tuna (bigeye, ahi) 0.68
Tuna (canned, albacore) 0.35
Tuna (yellowfin) 0.33
Halibut (Atlantic and Pacific) 0.33
Sea bass (Chilean) 0.30
Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf) 0.29
Cod (Atlantic) 0.21

Which Types of Fish are Low in Mercury?

Fortunately, there are many types of fish that are low in mercury and can be consumed regularly. Some of the types of fish with low levels of mercury are:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Trout
  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Shrimp
  • Scallops

How to Choose and Prepare Fish?

When choosing and preparing fish, there are several tips to keep in mind:

  • Check the mercury levels of the fish before buying or eating
  • Choose smaller and younger fish, which tend to have lower levels of mercury
  • Trim the fat and skin of the fish, which can accumulate more mercury
  • Avoid frying or grilling the fish, which can release more mercury into the air
  • Cook the fish thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses
  • Store the fish properly to prevent spoilage and contamination

FAQs

1. What is the safe limit of mercury in fish?

The safe limit of mercury in fish varies depending on the type of fish and the age, weight, and health status of the person. Generally, the EPA and FDA recommend that pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children avoid or limit their consumption of high-mercury fish, and choose fish with lower levels of mercury instead. For other adults, the EPA and FDA advise a maximum intake of 2-3 servings (8-12 ounces) of low-mercury fish per week.

2. Can I eat fish with mercury if I am not pregnant or breastfeeding?

Yes, you can eat fish with mercury if you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, but you should still be aware of the risks and benefits. Eating fish can be part of a healthy diet, but consuming too much mercury can harm your health. Therefore, it is recommended that you choose fish with lower levels of mercury and follow the guidelines of the EPA and FDA.

3. Is canned tuna safe to eat?

Canned tuna is generally safe to eat, but it can contain varying amounts of mercury depending on the type of tuna, the brand, and the country of origin. Therefore, it is important to check the label and choose canned tuna that is labeled as “light” or “chunk light,” which tend to have lower levels of mercury than “white” or “solid” tuna. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should also limit their intake of canned tuna to 2-3 servings per week.

4. Can I reduce the amount of mercury in fish by cooking it?

No, cooking fish does not reduce the amount of mercury in it, but it can kill harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause foodborne illnesses. Therefore, it is important to cook fish thoroughly to a temperature of at least 145°F.

5. What are the benefits of eating fish?

Eating fish can provide several health benefits, such as:

  • Improving brain function, memory, and mood
  • Lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer
  • Reducing inflammation and oxidative stress
  • Supporting healthy vision, skin, and bones
  • Boosting the immune system and metabolism

6. Can I take supplements instead of eating fish?

While fish supplements can provide some of the nutrients found in fish, such as omega-3 fatty acids, they cannot replace the benefits of whole fish, which contain a combination of nutrients and other bioactive compounds that work synergistically. Moreover, fish supplements can also contain contaminants and impurities, such as mercury, PCBs, and dioxins, which can harm your health. Therefore, it is recommended that you consume whole fish as part of a balanced diet, and consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.

7. How can I tell if a fish has mercury?

You cannot tell if a fish has mercury just by looking at it, smelling it, or tasting it. Mercury is a tasteless and odorless metal that can only be detected through laboratory testing. Therefore, it is important to check the mercury levels of the fish before buying or eating, and follow the guidelines of the EPA and FDA.

Conclusion

Nah, Sobat Penurut, now you know the types of fish with mercury, their risks and benefits, and how to choose and prepare fish wisely. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy the health benefits of fish without risking your health. Remember to check the mercury levels of the fish, choose fish with lower levels of mercury, and cook the fish properly. If you have any questions or concerns, consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.

References:

United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Fish Advisories. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/fish-tech/fish-advisories.

United States Food and Drug Administration. (2021). Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012). Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/metals-and-your-food/mercury-levels-commercial-fish-and-shellfish-1990-2012.

Disclaimer:

Mimin is not a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian. The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. If you have any health concerns or questions, consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.

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