Fish and Seafood 24 August 2009
Many of my colleagues have a zero tolerance policy on the consumption of fish and other seafood. This is because a huge amount of mercury that enters the air from coal burning subsequently ends up in the ocean. The sea floor also liberates natural sources of mercury as well. The mercury is taken up by seafood and fish and then bioaccumulates- levels increase up the food chain as big fish eat smaller fish. In general, the larger the fish, the higher the mercury levels.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed fish that should never be eaten because of high mercury content- shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. They also list some forms of tuna but I would suggest all tuna shouldn’t be eaten because 6% of light tuna has been found to have higher levels of mercury than high mercury tuna like albacore.
On the plus side, fish is a great source of valuable protein, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. The protein and selenium content offers some protection against the toxicity of the mercury. In my opinion, fish and seafood can be eaten as long as the following guidelines are followed:
- Pregnant women should not eat any fish or seafood
- Avoid bottom dwelling filter feeders because of high levels of mercury and other environmental toxins- most shellfish.
- Consume the fish as a small part of a meal which is predominatly made up of high water content, alkalinising green vegetables.
- Choose fish with lower levels of mercury e.g. salmon, pollock and snapper.
- Avoid all mercury (thimerasol) containing vaccines.
- Ensure you don’t already have an elevated body burden of mercury in your body because you have amalgam fillings in your mouth.
- Ensure a regular bowel motion- twice a day is optimal. 80% of mercury is excreted into the stool. There’s no point having it sit there for prolonged periods of time.
- Exercise to tolerance daily- sweating is an excellent way to remove mercury.
- You MUST take some nutritional supplements to improve removal of mercury from the brain and other tissues. A minimal regime would be:
- Aged garlic extract 1 capsule twice a day- a natural chelator of mercury.
- Vitamin C (as sodium ascorbate) at least 1 gram twice a day- a natural chelator of mercury.
- Selenium 200mcg
I also suggest adding:
- Glutathione 100 mg twice a day- a natural chelator of mercury and the bodies most powerful antioxidant (which is depleted by mercury).
- Mixed natural Vitamin E 400IU- has been shown to protect DNA against damage from mercury.
- R-alpha lipoic acid 100mg daily- chelates mercury and restores the antioxidant power of vitamin C.
All of the above supplements are great for health regardless of mercury intake. And remember we are exposed to mercury from the environment by air pollution so everyone should be taking steps to decrease the total body burden. Pharmaceutical grade fish oil should be taken daily to get the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids without the risk of the mercury.