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Something's Fishy

Don't worry about the safety of fish

Something's Fishy

Fish is a good source of quality protein.

And if you choose fatty fish, such as salmon or trout, it's the best source of the essential omega-3 fats that you can get. These fats not only provide a laundry list of health benefits, such as enhanced cardiovascular health and protection from certain cancers, but also offer better brain function and mood, improve joint and muscle recovery, and enhance fat loss.

But lately, I have been getting a lot of questions about mercury and other contaminants in fish.

So it seems that people are still worried and still confused about the safety of fish.

My overall take is that you really should not be deterred from eating fish over worries about contamination.

While many alarmist groups want you to be terrified by the thought of eating fish or fish products like fish oil due to possible poisoning from methylmercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), and dioxins, it's mostly paranoia and sensationalism.

A report by the US National Academies of Science, Institutes of Medicine (IOM) in conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Institution (NOAA) concluded that there should be no change in public health guidelines for fish as established by the FDA.

They reported that the contamination scare is largely overblown and that there is a bigger health risk in not eating fish.

A Harvard School of Public Health study reached a similar conclusion as the IOM/NMFS/NOAA study.

The Harvard scientists reported that the health effects of low-level mercury in adults are not clearly established and that the levels of both PCBs and dioxins are low. They stated that the potential cardiovascular and other effects of these contaminants are outweighed by the confirmed benefits of eating fish. They even stated that they were somewhat surprised by how little evidence there was of harm from fish.

So regularly eat fish, such as salmon, tuna, and trout two to three times per week for both the protein and the omega-3 fats.

Some fish that you should limit or avoid altogether because they have been found to be higher in mercury than other fish, include shark, swordfish, mackerel king, and tilefish.

Also, take 2-3 grams of a fish oil supplement two to three times per day with meals.

Worried about contamination of your fish oil supplements? Don't be. One research study found that out of all the fish oil supplements they tested, none were positive for mercury, PCBs, or dioxins.

While most of us do not need to worry about eating fish, females who are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant soon may want to watch their fish intake just to be sure that even the slightest levels of such contaminants do not interfere with the health and development of their baby.

It is recommended that pregnant women limit their intake of low-mercury fish to just 12 oz. per week. And be sure to avoid eating high-mercury fish such as shark, swordfish, mackerel king, and tilefish. Also be sure to supplement with a fish oil supplement, which will not only boost your health but the health and development of your baby.

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