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Dana asked...

Tags: diet , fish , nutrition

In the past year and a half, I have been eating 125 grams of wild salmon every day. About 10 days ago I had a mercury test done and my GP informed me that the level of mercury found in my blood was almost 3 times higher than normal. Acording to the lab the normal range is between 0-20 nmol/l and in my case the mercury level was 56 nmol/l. Please can you tell me what should I do? Am I suffering of mercury poisoning/intoxication? should I be worried too much?

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The Answer

Only extremely small amounts of mercury can be found in human foods but seafood can contain higher levels depending on where it is caught. Larger fish such as shark, swordfish and blue fin tuna can have higher than average levels but smaller fish such as herring, anchovies and wild Alaskan or Pacific coast salmon have very low levels of mercury.

Wild Atlantic salmon is different and may have slightly higher levels of mercury but this will vary depending on the source, which makes it difficult to be exactly sure how much mercury could be in the fish you are eating.
Signs of true mercury poisoning include impairment of vision, hearing problems, incoordination and peripheral neuropathy (e.g. reduced sensation in your feet or hands) but most people with higher than normal mercury levels may not show any symptoms for some time.  Mercury harms the nervous system, although this takes many months if not years, so if you know you have high levels it is best to modify your diet to ensure this does not happen.

There is no doubt that the omega -3 fatty acids in fish are beneficial to health so don't cut seafood out of your diet but just select fish which are known to be very low in mercury.  A diet rich in antioxidants such as a variety of vegetables and drinking plenty of water will help speed up the process of excretion of toxins such as mercury from the body.

Answered by Dr  A Wright.

 

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