{April 13, 2010}   mercury

I’m avoiding homework, so I went and researched mercury. A few weeks ago my friend was telling me that eating fish isn’t really bad for you because your body gets rid of the mercury after a while, and I’ve wanted to check if he was right.

it *does* accumulate in the body:
“The process for stiffening the felt used in making hats involved mercury, which forms organic species such as methylmercury, which is lipid soluble, and tends to accumulate in the brain resulting in mercury poisoning.”

Also, fish accumulate it in their organs and muscles.

but “A 2006 review of the risks and benefits of fish consumption found that for adults the benefits of one to two servings of fish per week outweigh the risks … (except for a few species)”
that’s probably because they’ve got lots of omega-3 fats, which most people don’t get enough of (although flax is a better source, and they’re starting to add them to all sorts of foods – seems it’s the latest health fad).
6oz of tuna a week is the recommended maximum for women and children.

“Species with characteristically low levels of mercury include shrimp, tilapia, salmon, pollock, and catfish ” <– yay salmon. it’s tuna that’s nasty, and tends to accumulate all sorts of other junk too. swordfish and a few other unusual things are even worse than tuna.

I’m wondering how fast our bodies can eliminate mercury, though… I haven’t found the half-life, and I’m tired of looking for it, but I suppose the 6-oz limit is based on it. so one meal a week should be safe. (although if/when I start trying to get pregnant I won’t eat *any*, as fetuses are far more sensitive to such things).

of course, there’s also the overfishing problem, and the question of whether one should eat the poor fishies when we have vegetable sources of all the nutrients we need… :) but from a purely selfish point of view, one fish meal a week is ok.


doviende says:

Tuna is a huuuge fish (like as long as I am tall), top of the food-chain (similar to swordfish). The higher up they are, the more they’ve accumulated.

Ffejery says:

“and the question of whether one should eat the poor fishies when we have vegetable sources of all the nutrients we need”
Ah, don’t worry. Fish is a vegetable – just like bacon! :D

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