Mercury in Fish

Friday, March 12, 2010

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury and some contain very high levels. Dr. Edward Hill explains the problems this can cause in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Mercury is a metal found naturally in the environment. In water, mercury changes its form and becomes methyl mercury, which is absorbed by fish. When you eat fish containing mercury, you also absorb it. At high levels mercury can be harmful.

Overall, fish and shellfish are healthy foods. They contain high-quality protein and other essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids, a type of essential fatty acid. For most people, the level of mercury absorbed by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern.

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

High levels of mercury in the body can damage the brain and nerves of a fetus or young child.

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