Is it Safe to eat Mercury Rich Fish?

October 18, 2014

Most people think that when they are exposed to mercury rich food, all that matters is the level of mercury they are exposed to. This is not true. Dr. Nicholas Ralston says that there has been exposure of a certain level in one population with noted negative effects and a higher exposure in another population with no negative effects whatsoever. What happens when mercury is ingested in the human body is that it causes oxidative damage. This means that mercury attacks tissues that require a lot of oxygen like the brain and the heart, which produce a lot of oxidative molecules. This oxidative damage is counteracted by antioxidants, specifically selenium dependent enzymes. Mercury specifically binds selenium dependent enzymes and destroys them when they are in the same environment, but if someone is eating a food with a higher selenium content than mercury then no damaging effects are seen. Dr. Ralston cites one study as an example where pregnant moms were consuming pilot whale meat in their diet. This meat has 4 to 5 times the amount of mercury in it than selenium. If they would have only been consuming this whale meat then their babies would have been harmed. They were, however, also consuming a lot of selenium rich ocean fish and no ill effects were noted in their babies. Two of the greatest sources of high mercury content in food are pilot whale meat and shark meat.

In summary, mercury is toxic to the human body and food high in mercury will have a negative effect. Selenium counteracts the damage that mercury does to the body, it does not destroy the mercury itself, simply binds with it so that the mercury cannot bind with bodily tissues. Dr. Ralston asserts that when pregnant women consume fish that are high in selenium regularly during their pregnancy, the babies that they deliver have been shown to have higher IQ’s. Eating fish high in selenium, pregnant or not, is beneficial to the human body.

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