Mercury can be a scary subject. We know with research that very large amounts of mercury can make us sick. Ever hear of the term "mad as a hatter"? In the 17th century, hat production used mercury in felt and many of those working as hatters, touching the mercury all days of the week, started to show signs of insanity. We now know this as mercury poisoning, not just eccentric hat makers, but mercury use has had a long history. Of course now mercury is not used in hats, but we still have it at the dinner table. The uncertainty around mercury makes it hard to be sure of what foods to eat and how much to consume. Fish and shellfish contain bits and traces of mercury, but in general are safe for you to eat! Fish are healthy and full of nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Of course lots of fish have mercury levels, but only some fish have high levels that can be harmful to people. Read on for some answered questions about mercury in the food you eat.
Which fish have high mercury levels?
Fish with high mercury levels are sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. Go to Nrdc for a full list.
Which fish have low mercury levels?
Fish like salmon, catfish, light canned tuna, pollock, and shrimp have low mercury levels. Go to Nrdc for a full list.
Who shouldn't eat fish with high mercury levels?
Pregnant women, women who will soon become pregnant, nursing mothers, and small children should never eat fish with high mercury levels as it could be harmful to their health. In general, we all should be sticking to fish with lower mercury levels.
What is a safe amount of fish for me to eat?
It's safe to eat up to 12 ounces of fish a week, which can be about two full meals.
Can I eat fish I catch?
Check for river and fish advisories before eating fish you catch. Sometimes there will be advisories for general public, and sometimes they will be directed at specific groups of people, like children or the elderly.
Why should I even bother eating fish and shellfish?
They are healthy and important! Eating fish gives you great nutrients, the good fats, and an amazing amount of protein.
What other questions do you have regarding mercury in your food?