A new study from the US Geological Survey reveals that scientists found mercury in every fish sampled in 300 streams across the United States. Over a quarter of these fish contained mercury levels exceeding the criterion established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the protection of people who eat an average amount of fish.
Why is mercury a problem?
Mercury is extremely toxic and only a few mg is needed to kill a grown human being. FDA’s methylmercury safeguards are designed to protect an average-sized woman eating an average fish contaminated with an average amount of methylmercury that decays in her body at an average rate. These assumptions rarely apply to the risks faced by any individual; risks are unevenly distributed throughout the population. Especially women expecting to become pregnant should avoid consuming fish altogether, unless the fish have been tested free of methylmercury.
Women, who eat even just a single serving of highly contaminated fish during pregnancy, expose their developing child to excessive levels of mercury. The toxic metal can cross the placenta to harm the rapidly developing nervous system, including the brain.
In adults, mercury poisoning has been linked to:
• Fertility problems
• Memory and vision loss
• Trouble with blood pressure regulation
• Extreme fatigue
• Neuro-muscular dysfunction.
If infants are exposed to mercury – even at low levels – it can lead to:
• Mental retardation
• Cerebral palsy
• Shortened attention span and learning disabilities
Mercury is especially damaging to your central nervous system (CNS), and studies show that mercury in the CNS causes psychological, neurological, and immunological problems. In addition, mercury bonds very firmly to structures in your CNS. So unless actively removed, mercury has an extremely long half-life of somewhere between 15 and 30 years in the CNS.
What is the primary route of exposure to mercury?
Coal-fired power plants account for 41 percent of all mercury emissions (some 90,000 pounds of mercury) and 80 percent in some regions including the Great Lakes and Northeast. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Academy of Sciences have determined that eating mercury-contaminated fish is the primary route of exposure to mercury for most people.
Bacteria and chemical reactions in lakes and wetlands change the mercury into a much more toxic form known as methylmercury. Fish become contaminated with methylmercury by eating plankton and smaller fish, which has absorbed methylmercury. Almost all fish are mercury contaminated, although small fish like sardines and anchovies are generally a safe option. The National Resources Defense Council points out that predatory fish such as large tuna, swordfish, shark and mackerel can have mercury concentrations in their bodies that are 10,000 times higher than those of their surrounding environment.
Mercury and other toxins are accumulated up through the food chain, which is why you should avoid eating these fish; especially if you are expecting to become pregnant or nursing:
• Tuna steaks
• Canned tuna
• Sea bass
• Oysters (Gulf of Mexico)
• White croaker
• Largemouth bass
What makes Vital Choice different?
The nutritional benefits of fish complicate the task faced by health officials when protecting the public from methylmercury. Protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, and other nutrients make fish an exceptionally good food for pregnant mothers and their developing babies.
The Alaskan wild red salmon from Vital Choice has been tested free from Mercury and other toxins found in dangerous amounts in almost all other fish such as:
• Radioactive materials like strontium
• Toxic metals like lead, chromium, arsenic and cadmium
Vital choice sustainably harvests their salmon from the interior of Alaska. Besides that wild salmon has a more intense flavor, it is one of the best ways to increase your intake of Omega-3s. Relying on flax oil and other vegetable sources for Omega-3s is not sufficient as countless studies have shown that humans are virtually incapable of transforming alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA fatty acids. Case in point: a majority of those patients we see coming to PATH, adhering to a vegan lifestyle, usually suffer from severe hormone imbalances, mild depression, dry skin and hair as well as osteopenia – all issues that partly can be related to insufficient EPA and DHA intake.
When ordering your fish online at www.vitalchoice.com, use offer code 7777777 to receive a 10% discount.
USGS: Mercury in Fish, Bed sediment, and Water from Streams Across the United States, 1998-2005. 2009
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.