Heavy Metal Toxicity In Fish and Seafood

Heavy Metal Toxicity In Fish and Seafood

Mercury In FishI don’t know about you, but I absolutely love my seafood. When I was a little girl and my family would go out to a nice restaurant, my two favorite things to order were shrimp cocktail and a Shirley Temple (a nonalcoholic drink of ginger ale and grenadine). While my tastes have changed on cocktails I still LOVE seafood. A black and blue tuna steak with wasabi mashed potatoes, picking crabs with my family on a hot summer night, lobster with warm butter….my mouth waters just thinking about those things.

I grew up in Wilmington, DE, so seafood was a staple for us as was heavy metal toxicity. I didn’t know it at the time, but Wilmington, DE is the chemical capital of the nation! The Dupont’s put Wilmington on the map and it is only now that I realize how much heavy metal toxicity I was exposed to as a child and young adult. I am a foodie at heart, but over the years I have had to modify some of my guilty pleasures linked to heavy metal toxicity in seafood. So, you might be asking yourself “what are the heavy metals found in fish?”

Mercury and PCB’s are the main culprits. The main problem with these heavy metals is that they wreak havoc on our immunity and our body has a challenging time eliminating them. These toxins get lodged in our bones, brain, kidneys, and liver in an attempt to hide them and protect the rest of the body from their toxic load. When your body gets overloaded with these toxins, it can totally disrupt the ability of your organs to function at an optimal rate. In addition, mercury is a neurotoxin, which means that it can destroy nerve tissue and inhibit its function. The list of symptoms associated with heavy metal toxicity is vast, ranging from autoimmune and neurological disorders to fatigue and mental fogginess. Hidden metal and chemical toxicity is found in highest concentrations in large fish like tuna (don’t forget that tuna fish salad comes from tuna), mahimahi, and swordfish.

Our oceans have become a dumping ground, and the small fish live and feed themselves from this toxic soup. The big fish then eat the small fish. The concentrations of mercury and other toxins increase as the fish get larger and larger. Therefore, the bigger the fish, the greater the toxicity. The Cove, a documentary about dolphins, explains how heavy metal toxicity from eating fish is causing neurological disorders in some Japanese children. Children are especially vulnerable to heavy metal toxicity because of their developing brain and body. I highly recommend this film if you are interested in learning more.

Mercury in FishMy suggestion to you is to begin by decreasing the seafood that is highest in mercury. One way to jog your memory is that the bigger the fish, the higher the exposure. Large fish store these toxins in their fatty tissue in high concentrations. So, a sardine is much better than a sailfish. This is the main reason why I rarely eat tuna or tuna fish any more. Below is list of seafood highest in mercury. Use this as a guideline to begin to decrease your current exposure. Some people are better able to detox these heavy metals, but we are all exposed. Even if you don’t eat fish, you are exposed through the air you breath and the water you drink. This is one of the many reasons that I have my patients cleanse their bodies through a detoxification program at least once a year. Unfortunately, our world has become much more toxic and the only way to stay healthy is to be proactive in cleansing and decreasing your exposure.

Live. Love. Thrive.

Dr. Kelly

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