Sea Life

How Concerned Should I be About Mercury in Fish

How Concerned Should I be About Mercury in Fish

Fish is an important part of the diet for human beings and is eaten as a healthy food in many countries across the world. The sources that make the fish a healthy diet are high-quality proteins, nutrients and omega-3 fats. But, there are also some unhealthy substances in fish meat like the presence of mercury that makes the fish meat a little unhealthy. 

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that exists in the air, food, and water and fish do intake it normally from the oceans that dissolves into its meat. The problem is that there is no method of cooking a fish in such a way that the mercury eliminates from the meat.

How Do Fish Contain Mercury?

Mercury naturally exists in the environment most probably because of industrial pollution. Mercury travels from the air to the streams and oceans and it naturally converts to methylmercury when it travels to the water. Fish that exist in the oceans and streams absorb mercury from the ocean sediments. When the fish intakes the mercury, it just binds into the protein in the body of the fish. 

Should I Worry About Mercury in a Fish?

Whether the fish containing mercury may harm you or not depends on the amount of intake and also on the level of the mercury that the fish contains. The food and drug administration (FDA) advises that the mercury in fish can be harmful to young children as well as to unborn children.

So, we can state here that it is not as harmful as one completely stops eating fish meat but the care that needs to be taken is that the amount of fish intake must be limited. Also, different types of fish contain different levels of mercury (we will discuss this in detail in the next section of this post), so it also depends on the types of fish consumed.

Level of Mercury in Different Types of Fish

There are some types of fish that have naturally high levels of mercury while others have low levels of mercury. Let’s have a look at the levels of mercury of different kinds of fish by measurements taken in parts per million (ppm).

Fish That Have High Levels of Mercury

There are certain types of fish that naturally have high levels of mercury and these fish are suggested not to eat in abundance. Let’s discuss the levels of memory in these kinds of fish:

Types of FishAverage Measurement of MercuryMaximum Level of Mercury
Tilefish 1.123 ppm3.73 ppm
Atlantic Coast Telefish0.144 ppm0.522 ppm
Swordfish0.995 ppm3.22 ppm
Shark 0.979 ppm4.54 ppm
King Mackerel 0.73 ppm1.67 ppm
Bigeye Tuna0.689 ppm1.816 ppm
Orange Roughy0.571 ppm1.12 ppm
Marlin 0.485 ppm0.92 ppm
Chilean Sea Bass0.354 ppm2.18 ppm

From the above table, we can analyze that shark fish can reach the highest level of mercury.

Fish That Have Low Levels of Mercury

Similarly, there are some kinds of fish that naturally have low levels of mercury in them and these fish are considered more healthy as compared to those having a high amount of mercury:

Types of FishAverage Measurement of MercuryMaximum Level of Mercury
Shrimp 0.009 ppm0.05 ppm
Fresh Frozen Salmon0.022 ppm0.19 ppm
Canned Salmon0.014 ppm0.086 ppm
Oysters0.012 ppm0.25 ppm
Scallops 0.003 ppm0.033 ppm

From the above table, it can be easily analyzed that the Scallops fish have the lowest level of mercury.

The Bottom-Line

Whether we should be concerned about the presence and effects of mercury in the fish depends on the type of fish because some fish naturally intake high amounts of mercury and thus have high levels of mercury in them. Moreover, the consumption of fish must be limited in order to avoid any harmful side effects because of the mercury. Women who are pregnant and young children must avoid intake of fish that have less or more amount of mercury.

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