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At first it seems simple: If shellfish and fish contains mercury, don’t eat them. But the truth about shellfish and fish and mercury is a bit more complicated than it seems.

Healthy advisories have had to walk a fine line between scaring people away from shellfish, which is probably the healthiest source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids on the planet, and trying to control exposure to mercury. One major study fund that if pregnant women were to simply replace fish high in mercury with fish low in mercury, cognitive benefits per newborn baby could be achieved with no loss of nutrition. But if people were scared off fish and stopped eating it, the loss of omega-3 fats during pregnancy would cut nutritional benefit by a whopping 80 percent. And if other adults – men and nonpregnant women were to be scared off fish and decrease by one sixth, risk from coronary heart disease and stroke would increase.

The fact is, many fish are also high in selenium, a fantastic mineral that binds to mercury and helps your body excrete it. The high levels of selenium in fish are believed to be responsible for the fact that people on the Seychelles Islands eat about twelve servings of fish a week with no observable problems.


  • Eat up to two fish meals a week of most fish, including salmon, catfish and canned light tuna.
  • Eat no swordfish, king mackerel, shark, or tilefish, which are especially high in mercury
  • Eat no more than 6 ounces (170 g) a week of albacore (white) tuna.

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