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Fish, Mercury and The Brain: High levels of Mercury can cause neurodegeneration and brain damage

March 8, 2010

Article by Michael Gonzalez-Wallace and Nutritionist Olinka Podany MS, RD

(high levels of mercury can cause neurodegeneration and brain damage)

Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. But 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 nerves (nervous system).
Because of the mercury found in fish, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise the following people to avoid eating fish high in mercury and to eat limited amounts of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury:

Women who may become pregnant
Pregnant women
Nursing mothers
Young children
If you are concerned about your or your child’s mercury level, talk to your doctor or local health department about testing.

How should you change your eating habits to reduce your exposure to mercury in fish?
The FDA and EPA recommend that women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children:1, 2


Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, because these all contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12oz a week (two average meals) of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna, has more mercury than canned light tuna. So when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6oz a week (one average meal) of albacore tuna.
Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6oz a week (one average meal) of fish caught from local waters, but don’t eat any other fish during that week.


One Comment leave one →
  1. Jason Page permalink
    March 12, 2010 2:42 am

    With sushi you need to stay away from anything called yellowtail, tuna, and mackerel (in sushi spanish mackerel is the most common almost as bad as king mackerel. Other than Mercury one has to watch out for biotoxins in shellfish and PCB (Polychlorinated biphenyl) toxin. PCB stores in your body for more than 20 years at times. Eel has a lot of PCB… See More but low levels of mercury. I recently became a fish only eater. So I use to watch my mercury levels. Also read 10 books on this subject. Best websites for information (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. website) I also use the New Zealand Food Safety Authority website for info. Anyone need help on what to eat I can send them an email that I just sent my parents yesterday with all my compiled knowledge on what they can eat. Here’s the best sushi link (Natural Resources Defense Council). AND LADIES PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR “Ameican Pregnancy Association” website. They can’t copy info very well:) There is a few errors on their web page…they tried to copy Natural Resources Defense Council website but made some serious errors (i.e., Aji (horse mackerel) lowest in mercury, in reality it’s very HIGH in mercury).

    My email is

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