mercoledì 23 novembre 2011

Concerned About Mercury in Fish and Flu Shots?

mercury.jpgFor cold and flu season this year, I was thinking about getting a flu shot. But, I stopped to think about the mercury that the flu vaccine contains.

This got me thinking: why should I worry about a silly flu shot when I eat mercury-containing fish all the time?

How important is it to limit our mercury containing fish intake?

Mercury is a natural occurring element, but is also a byproduct of pollution, and can end up in our rivers and oceans. This is how mercury gets into the fish supply, and then into our bodies.

Fish that contain the most mercury are large fish on top of the food chain: TilefishSharkSwordfishKing MackerelBigeye, Albacore, and Yellowfin TunaOrange RoughyMarlinGrouperBassBluefish

The type of mercury found in fish is called methylmercury and is considered a poison. Of course our bodies can tolerate small amounts of toxic compounds. Our bodies are relatively good at detoxifying as long as you don't overload the body with toxins. The dangerous part is that mercury stays in the body for quite a while since it is a heavy metal. Mercury poisoning first affects the nervous system and causes changes in temperament. The most sever cases of mercury poisoning can result in brain damage.

The most important thing is for children, pregnant women, or women who may become pregnant to limit their higher mercury fish intake to about six ounces per week, or twelve ounces per week of lower mercury fish and shellfish. This developing body is much more sensitive to heavy metal damage.

By comparison, some flu shots contain a strong dose of mercury, but a different form of mercury called ethylmercury (in the preservative Thimerosal) which your body degrades more quickly. A six ounce serving of light tuna contains about the same amount of mercury as one adult flu shot. So, I may get my flu shot this year, and watch my consumption of white tuna instead. I will still be eating other lower mercury fish!

How about you, do you ever worry about mercury levels?

Resource: FDA Levels of Mercury in Common Fish

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