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Did You Know That You Should Not Avoid Fish?

Fish is a good source of much needed Omega-3 in our diet.

Studies are showing that Americans are avoiding fish. Why? Fish is often contaminated with methylmercury; and making choices, especially with regard to tunafish based on mercury risk, is complicated.

Older yellow fin, blue fin and albacore tuna fish can have a lifespan of 40 years; as they get older, they migrate to the warmer waters of the pacific. They have many years of accumulation of mercury and are unsafe for consumption. However, tuna caught in the colder waters of the Pacific by hook and line on the surface are younger fish and contain minimal, if any, mercury at all. They are also very good sources of Omega-3 due to the body fat needed for the colder water.

Avoidance of fish is resulting in a lack of Omega 3 in the American diet. Fish is a great source of Omega 3 and does not need to be avoided with the proper knowledge. Omega 3 in the diet is critical and especially important for pregnant women.

  • Only buy fish from whom you trust.  Ask questions.  Some fish in the large supermarkets carry fish from China and Taiwan, some of which should be avoided! 
  • Check for advisories against specific seafood.  Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch is one very good source.
  • Look for fish lowest in contaminants.
  • Chose wild-caught instead of farmed.
  • Keep serving sizes at 4-6 ounces and 2-3 for children only twice a week 

Make sure that you are getting Omega-3 in your diet and the correct balance of Omega-3 to Omega 6!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Cyndee Fuller May 07, 2012 at 07:05 PM
This is a very light-weight description of the problems with contaminated seafood. Fish can be contaminated with mercury, as well as many other chemicals. What may be an appropriate guideline for types of fish to eat with regard to mercury (which binds to protein) may not be a sufficient warning for contaminants that bind to lipids (fats), such as PCBs. With regard to tuna, albacore (solid white) has been shown to generally have the highest levels of mercury whereas yellow fin and skipjack, used to make "chunk light" tuna, generally has lower levels of mercury in it. The Rhode Island Department of Health discusses this issue at http://www.health.ri.gov/healthrisks/poisoning/mercury/about/fish/. Mercury is a potent developmental toxin and should be avoided at all costs by pregnant women. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "[t]he National Research Council (NRC) issued a report estimating that as many as 60,000 newborns a year in the U.S. are now at risk for adverse neurodevelopmental effects from dietary mercury." (http://orf.od.nih.gov/Environmental+Protection/Mercury+Free/MercuryHealthHazards.htm). There are other non-fish sources of omega fatty acids (e.g. certain eggs) that are better choice for pregnant women or those wanting to minimize their mercury intake.
Joanne Moniz May 08, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Hello Cyndee Yes; it was a very light-weight description of the problem intentionally for fear of being an alarmist. But you are absolutely right and I hope anyone who knows a pregnant woman, or one who will be, will pass this information along! Personally, my advice for pregnant woman and young children would be to avoid fish all together and find other sources for the Omega 3. It is critical in the diet; not much is needed. (walnuts, flaxseed, summer squash, winter squash, kale are among some good sources.
Chris May 14, 2012 at 04:11 PM
If someone doesn't like fish or is concern about the levels of mercury you can always supplement with Fish oil tablets. However, people should be eating fish at least 2 times a week, there are types of fish that are not loaded with mercury.
Joanne Moniz July 29, 2012 at 12:39 AM
as long as the fish oil supplements are quality supplements void of mercury

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