FISH & SHELLFISH
What You Need to Know About Mercury
in Fish and Shellfish Allergies
Women Who Might Become Pregnant
Women Who are Pregnant
This advice is not just
pertinent to Florida, but World Wide and are just sensible guidelines
for the categories above and may also include shellfish.
Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy
diet. Fish and shellfish contain high-quality protein and other
essential nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty
acids. A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and
shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth
and development. So, women and young children in particular should
include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional
However, nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces
of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and
shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain
higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's
developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish
depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of
mercury in the fish and shellfish. Therefore, the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are
advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers,
and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and
shellfish that are lower in mercury.
By following these 3 recommendations for selecting
and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the
benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have
reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.
Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or
Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a
variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are
low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock,
Another commonly eaten fish, albacore
("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when
choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to
6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
Check local advisories about the safety of fish
caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and
coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one
average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but
don't consume any other fish during that week.
Follow these same recommendations when feeding fish
and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions.
Frequently Asked Questions about
Mercury in Fish and Shellfish Questions:
"What is mercury and methyl mercury?"
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can also be released
into the air through industrial pollution. Mercury falls from the
air and can accumulate in streams and oceans and is turned into
methyl mercury in the water. It is this type of mercury that can be
harmful to your unborn baby and young child. Fish absorb the methyl
mercury as they feed in these waters and so it builds up in them. It
builds up more in some types of fish and shellfish than others,
depending on what the fish eat, which is why the levels vary.
"I'm a woman who could have children but I'm not
pregnant - so why should I be concerned about methyl mercury?"
If you regularly eat types of fish that are high in methyl mercury,
it can accumulate in your blood stream over time. Methyl mercury is
removed from the body naturally, but it may take over a year for the
levels to drop significantly. Thus, it may be present in a woman
even before she becomes pregnant. This is the reason why women who
are trying to become pregnant should also avoid eating certain types
"Is there methyl mercury in all fish and
Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of methyl mercury.
However, larger fish that have lived longer have the highest levels
of methyl mercury because they've had more time to accumulate it.
These large fish (swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish) pose
the greatest risk. Other types of fish and shellfish may be eaten in
the amounts recommended by FDA and EPA.
"I don't see the fish I eat in the advisory. What
should I do?"
If you want more information about the levels in the various types
of fish you eat, see the FDA food safety website
or the EPA website at
"What about fish sticks and fast food
Fish sticks and "fast-food" sandwiches are commonly made from fish
that are low in mercury.
"The advice about canned tuna is in the advisory,
but what's the advice about tuna steaks?"
Because tuna steak generally contains higher levels of mercury than
canned light tuna, when choosing your two meals of fish and
shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of tuna
steak per week.
"What if I eat more than the recommended amount
of fish and shellfish in a week?"
One week's consumption of fish does not change the level of methyl
mercury in the body much at all. If you eat a lot of fish one week,
you can cut back for the next week or two. Just make sure you
average the recommended amount per week.
"Where do I get information about the safety of
fish caught recreationally by family or friends?"
Before you go fishing, check your Fishing Regulations Booklet for
information about recreationally caught fish. You can also contact
your local health department for information about local advisories.
You need to check local advisories because some kinds of fish and
shellfish caught in your local waters may have higher or much lower
than average levels of mercury. This depends on the levels of
mercury in the water in which the fish are caught. Those fish with
much lower levels may be eaten more frequently and in larger
"Do cosmetic products contain shellfish by
The answer maybe YES!
Glucosamine is popular in
facial creams and is extracted from the
shells of shellfish and then processed and
refined. Products that may contain this are,
skin tonics, moisturizers, body creams, eye
creams, knot free shampoos, color blusher's
Please check the ingredient list of all
products before you purchase them if you
suffer from shell fish allergies.
ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR OR PHARMACIST FOR FURTHER ADVICE.
I hope this information was of help?
Captain Tony Allen is a pharmacist by
profession and is a registered member of
THE ROYAL PHARMACEUTICAL SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN #62419
[Atlantis Timeshare Bahamas]