Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can eat—if you’re eating the right kind. So far,
we’ve explored the wild caught vs. farm-raised debate, and ways to tell if your fish was harvested sustainably. Now let’s tackle the mercury question, shall we?
There’s been so much hype surrounding fish and mercury that I think a lot of us aren’t sure
whether our seafood dinner is tantamount to sucking down an old thermometer, but
the good news is that mercury in fish might pose less of a problem than you believe.
Some of the fish we eat most often, like shrimp, salmon and tilapia, show consistently
low levels of mercury contamination. As long as you avoid (or don’t eat too much of)
certain types of fish—most of which are fish we consume less of in America
anyway—you should be just fine on the mercury front.
Fish and shellfish have a tendency to harbor methylmercury, a super toxic mercury blend
produced by environmental toxins that accumulates in bodies of water—and, hence, in
bodies of seafood, too (for more details on how this happens, see here). Obviously, this
isn’t something you want to get lots of in your body, especially if you’re pregnant or
nursing.* But for most people, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not
a health concern, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says. While government tests
have found some mercury in almost all fish (regardless of type or their home waters),
only about 25% had it in concentrations high enough to be dangerous to human health.
Certain types of fish are much more likely to accumulate high mercury and methylmercury levels than others. These include:
• King Mackerel
Women who may become pregnant soon, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and
young children should avoid these four altogether.
Fish that show consistently lower levels of mercury contamination include:
For a complete chart of mehtylmercury contamination by species of fish, see here.
Another cool resource is “Got Mercury?” a public awareness campaign to encourage
healthier seafood choices. Enter your weight and the type and amount of seafood you
eat into the Got Mercury? calculator to calculate and evaluate your exposure.
* Or are a small child, though if you are a small child, I assume you are not reading
Niki was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and moved to San Diego, California during her childhood. She went from being a student and top-ranked nationally competitive equestrian to balancing school with acting and modeling in Los Angeles. This lead to her career as a professional football player for the Lingerie Football League's Lingerie Bowl National Champion team: The Los Angeles Temptation. Niki currently resides in Manhattan, New York and is studying for her certification as a Health Counselor while building her brand. She will be working one-on-one with clients to support them on their journey to achieving optimum health and well-being.