Are US Seafood Guidelines Filling You With Mercury?

Many of us who are health conscious make our dietary judgements based on the current guidelines of respected institutions like the FDA and the EPA. However, a recent report released by the Environmental Working Group goes to show that we cannot always take these general recommendations at face value.

A recent press release by the EWG expresses concern that federal recommended guidelines for seafood consumption have the potential to lead health-conscious women to consume foods too high in mercury and too low in omega-3s. Women who are pregnant or of child-bearing age have been encouraged to consume more seafood to increase their omega-3 levels, the fatty acid crucial for healthy baby development. Women following these national health guidelines may believe they are doing what’s best for their bodies, but the EWG has conducted research to show that this general recommendation can mislead women into consuming too much of the wrong kinds of seafoods.

To limit mercury consumption, FDA and EPA recommend that women eat no more than six ounces a week of albacore tuna and suggest they consume absolutely no shark, swordfish, tilefish or king mackerel. But they do encourage women to consume 2 or more servings of seafood a week. Unfortunately, the EWG study suggests that many women who follow that general advice will still suffer excessive levels of mercury or low quantities of omega-3s in their diets.

The Environmental Working Group tested hair samples of 254 women from 40 states who claimed to eat two or more servings of seafood a week, per current federal safety guidelines. Nearly 30 percent of the tests were beyond the EPA guidelines for safe mercury levels in women and far above their recommended levels for safe exposure during pregnancy.

Additionally, 60 percent of the seafood the women consumed didn’t provide enough omega-3s to support healthy fetal development. This goes to show that not only should pregnant women pay attention to how much fish they consume, but what kinds of fish as well. You can read the full report here.

Michael Bender, director of the Mercury Policy Project, stated, “Based on the evidence, it’s time for FDA and EPA to revise their advice, particularly when it comes to reducing tuna consumption, since it’s the largest mercury exposure in the American diet.” (source)

Watch the EWG’s short video explaining the study below:

To make smarter seafood choices, use tools like the Good Seafood Guide and the Seafood Calculator to help you choose seafood choices that are lower in mercury, higher in omega-3s and the most sustainable.

Or try the Top 17 Vegan Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

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68 comments

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Past Member 3 months ago

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Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

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Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

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Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

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Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

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W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

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William C
William Cabout a year ago

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