Mercury in Fish
Friday, March 6, 2009

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. Dr. Edward Hill discusses the possible dangers of mercury in fish in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment. In water, mercury changes its form and becomes methylmercury. Fish absorb this and when a person eats fish containing mercury, you absorb the mercury. At high levels it can be harmful.

For most people, the level of mercury absorbed by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. However, some contain high levels. Eating large amounts of these fish and shellfish can result in high levels of mercury in the human body. In a fetus or young child, this can damage the brain and nervous system.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency advise pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children to avoid eating fish high in mercury and to eat limited amounts of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

If you are concerned about your or your childís mercury level, talk to your health professional or local health department about testing.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.