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Is Mercury Keeping you from Eating Fish?

Methyl mercury toxicity usually comes in the way of eating more fish. However, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the only people who need to be concerned about mercury toxicity are pregnant women, those who might get pregnant, nursing women, and young children. Even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists considers 12 ounces of fish low in mercury to be safe safe.

If you fall in one of the categories above, this is what you need to know.

  • Fish high in mercury: AVOID

These are king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish. And if by any chance you get your hands on whale, make sure it doesn’t go in your mouth too.

  • Fish medium in mercury: LIMIT to 6 ounces a week

This is your Albacore, or white, tuna. It has more mercury than light tuna. So either limit to 6 ounces a week or choose light tuna instead.

  • Fish low in mercury: LIMIT to 12 ounces a week

This means all other fish not listed above. There is a wide variety to choose from. Try salmon, trout, flounder, talapia, herring, cod, shrimp, scalops, sea bass, light tuna, sardines, and more!

Have a fishy day!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jenine Kotob June 25, 2009, 9:05 am

    Thank you for this info! I am always getting in arguments with my dad about how much sushi I am eating – he fears I’ll get mercury poisoning. I tend to eat sushi about once a week to once every two weeks. And I try to eat the cooked kinds.

    I love your blog!!

  • NourRD June 27, 2009, 10:20 pm

    Jenine and all,

    Thank you for the comment. The biggest concern with sushi is not mercury but parasites. The symptoms can be mild–nausea and vomiting–to severe, similar to ulcer or appendicitis. If someone eats sushi with parasites, the cure can also range from the parasite leaving the body with stool, or it may require surgery!

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat sushi. Always buy it from reputable restaurants, choose sushi made with cooked fish, and don’t make raw sushi at home.

    For pregnant and nursing women, as well as people with compromised immune system, eating sushi is not recommended. Although one can argue that cooked sushi should be OK, there is a risk of contamination from raw fish. I personally didn’t eat any sushi during pregnancy. I survived 🙂

    For more on sushi, read this article by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, from WebMD: