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Fish Benefits Outweigh Risks for Most

DR KOMOROFF Universal Uclick

Posted April 20, 2012

Dear Doctor K: I enjoy eating fish, and I know that doing so can keep me healthier. But how worried should I be about mercury and other pollutants in fish?

Dear Reader: Fish are an excellent source of protein, and its healthy oils protect against cardiovascular disease. A diet rich in seafood benefits the brain and the heart.

But nearly all fish and shellfish do contain traces of mercury, and mercury is a toxic metal. If too much gets into your body, it can be damaging - particularly to the brain. But you can minimize the bad and maximize the good. Here's how.

As small fish are eaten by larger fish up the food chain, concentrations of mercury increase. Thus large, predatory, deep- ocean fish tend to contain the highest levels. Examples include shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel. I'm careful about how often I eat these fish, in contrast to those with less mercury.

Most adults can safely eat about 12 ounces (two 6-ounce servings) of a variety of cooked seafood a week. This advice does not include the large, predatory ocean fish mentioned above, which should be enjoyed only occasionally. Also, pay attention to local seafood advisories about contamination.

This advice does not apply to women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, nursing mothers and children ages 12 and younger. More caution is needed to avoid potential harm from mercury to a fetus's or a young child's developing nervous system. For such women and children, 12 ounces a week of fish is considered safe if they:

Generally choose fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, such as shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.

Albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. Eat no more than 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

If you're smart about how you eat fish, the good effects on your health far outweigh the bad.

Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106



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