One of the healthiest foods that can be consumed is fish. That’s because it is a wonderful source of protein, micro nutrients, and wholesome fats. But some varieties of fish may contain elevated levels of mercury, which can be poisonous. Mercury exposure has been associated with serious health issues. Wild Salmon is salmon that is high in mercury.
Most people know that fish contain high-quality protein, little saturated fat, and rich in omega 3 which is beneficial for the body.
But unfortunately, almost all fish contain traces of mercury that can cause problems for health. Some fish are known to contain high levels of mercury which is very dangerous for pregnant women and children.
What is fish mercury?
Mercury (Hg) is a heavy metal that is naturally present in the soil, water, and air. Mercury is also commonly found in plant waste, which will then contaminate the water. Mercury content in the water is what will settle in the body of fish, fish-eating animals, and shellfish that are then consumed by humans.
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Is mercury content in fish dangerous?
Mercury can enter the human body through direct exposure to the skin, inhaled air, and food or beverages consumed.
In high levels, mercury exposure can harm the immune system, brain, lungs, heart, and kidneys. In fetuses, infants, and children, mercury exposure can damage the nervous system and impair brain function, thus degrading their ability to learn and think. Birth defects and death are other risks due to exposure to mercury, which the fetus is susceptible to.
The higher the amount of mercury that enters the body, the more likely it is to occur health disorders. The danger of mercury in humans can be recognized from the following signs:
- Weak muscles.
- Nervous disorders, such as tingling, numbness, and difficulty or not being able to walk, hear, and talk.
- Impaired coordination of the body.
- Body shaking (tremor).
- Visual impairment, even blindness.
- Barriers to growth.
- Mental disorders.
- Lung damage.
The Minamata tragedy in Japan is the most notorious case of mercury poisoning in history. People who were exposed to mercury in the tragedy suffered from neurological disorders, such as hearing and vision loss, body shaking, to psychiatric disorders.
Do wild salmon have a high mercury content?
Swordfish have a mercury concentration of 0.995 PPM. Salmon, which has an average life span of four to five years, contains about 0.014 PPM of mercury. Salmon is one of the fish that has very low mercury levels, so it is very safe to be consumed every day.
Salmon, especially Norwegian salmon, is said by Rita to have an excellent vitamin D content for children. Because Norway is famous for having a cold water environment makes its salmon larger than salmon that live in water at normal temperatures.
Norwegian salmon is also good for consumption by various means of processing. Because the content of vitamin D contained in Norwegian salmon remains the same even though consumed raw or cooked.
Should You Avoid Fish Because it has mercury content?
In fish, mercury levels are high enough that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that pregnant women limit the consumption of some popular fish types, such as halibut and tuna, to one serving a week.
How does wild salmon taste?
Wild salmon has more advantages and is more expensive. The problem of taste, all goes back to each other’s tastes and depends on how the salmon meat is processed.
How many doses consume wild salmon?
Experts recommend adults to consume omega 3-rich fish, such as salmon, for 2 servings or about 8 ounces a week. As for children aged 2 years and above, just consume 1-2 servings or the equivalent of 2 -4 ounces of seafood.
Nutritional value in Atlantic wild salmon
Serving Size1/2 slices
Energy 1176 KJ
Fat 12.55 g
Saturated Fat 1,942 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5,027 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4,164 g
Cholesterol 109 mg
Protein 39.28 g
Carbohydrate 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Sodium 87 mg
Potassium 970 mg
Differences between farmed salmon and wild salmon
There are differences in the nutritional content of farmed and wild salmon. This is because they eat very different things.
Breeding salmon are usually fed processed fish, while wild salmon eat small invertebrates. Besides, farmed and wild salmon also have different content of calories, fat, cholesterol, and magnesium.
Omega 3 fats and fatty acids
The fat and omega 3 content in wild salmon depends on the type of fish. The more omega 3 content, the more fat. Salmon that live in cold environments tend to have more fatty tissue.
A 2013 discovery found that farmed salmon have a higher content of environmental and organic pollutants than wild salmon. However, according to a recent study from Norway’s Havforsknings Instituttet, both breeding and wild salmon have similar levels of pollutants.
Wild salmon have a natural dark orange-red color, derived from carotene compounds. However, breed salmon do not have the same access to change their color, so the color tends to turn pink.
Kinds of Fish Which Contain a Majority of Mercury
Mercury levels in the body of fish vary, and this depends on the age of the fish and the type of fish food, whether the fish consumes other marine animals or plants. Generally, the higher the position of a type of fish in the food chain, the higher the mercury level. This is because the mercury in the body of the prey will settle in the body.
The following are some types of fish that contain a lot of mercury:
- Tuna fish
- Marlin fish
Negative effects of mercury exposure
Mercury exposure can cause serious health problems. High mercury levels can cause disorders in the brain, either in humans or animals. Research examining 129 adults in Brazil found high levels of mercury in the hair increased the risk of decreased fine motor skills, dexterity, memory, and mental focus.
Research has also proven exposure to heavy metals – such as mercury – with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, depression, and anxiety. High mercury exposure can also trigger high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attack, and levels of bad cholesterol.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Mercury in Fish
Despite the dangers of mercury, the nutrients present in seafood are a pity to miss. Although fish can contain mercury, it does not mean that we should not consume fish at all.
Several ways can be done to avoid the danger of mercury in fish, among others:
- Avoid or limit the consumption of fish that have the potential to contain high levels of mercury. Women who are planning a pregnancy, pregnant women, nursing mothers, as well as infants and children, are advised not to consume high-quality fish, and to be more careful in choosing the type of fish that is safe to consume.
- Choose other fish or seafood with lower mercury content, such as catfish, shrimp, salmon, anchovies, and snapper. To meet the needs of protein and good fats, you can consume these fish at least 200-350 grams a week, which is divided into 2-3 servings.
- Limit or avoid consuming raw fish, especially for pregnant women.
- Be careful in buying fish and processed products.
Avoiding the consumption of many types of mercury-containing fish and proper cooking can minimize the risk of mercury exposure so that mercury’s harm to health can be prevented. If you feel a suspected complaint as a symptom of mercury poisoning, see a doctor immediately for examination and treatment.
Safe tips for eating fish
The good news is, we should not avoid the consumption of fish because of its high benefits for health.
To avoid the negative effects of mercury, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that we do the following:
- limit fish consumption to only two to three servings each week.
- choose fish with low mercury content.
- when choosing fresh fish, look for fish that comes from a particular river or lake.
Besides, some age groups are susceptible to mercury poisoning. Vulnerable groups with mercury poisoning are pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children.
Therefore, those in the group should be more careful in choosing food intake.