Is It Safe To Eat Seafood?
Fish is definitely a better choice when considering other animal product options, however we should be aware of the following facts when making good seafood choices...
Levels of pollutants, such as mercury, tend to be higher in long-lived, larger fish, particularly shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. These fish tend to average about 1,000 ppb (parts per billion) of mercury — the FDA limit for human consumption — while most other fish tend to have about one-tenth to one-third of this amount. Eating a fish with 1,000 ppb of mercury is not necessarily toxic, but it should not be consumed more than once per month and definitely not by young children and pregnant or nursing women. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also advised that fresh-water fish may contain more mercury than commercially caught fish and advises that "If you are pregnant or could become pregnant, are nursing a baby, or feeding a young child, limit consumption of fish caught by family and friends to one meal (about 6 ounces) of fish per week." The same limit is recommended for albacore ("white") tuna, as it may occasionally contain excessive levels of mercury.
Follow this link to see a recent article in USA Today about the 11 best fish to consume based upon their low level of contaminants and their higher levels of heart healthy Omega 3 fats…
PCB's (Polychlorinated Biphenols)
Farmed salmon has higher levels of PCB’s (25-50 ppb) and usually a lack of proper fatty acids, as compared to wild ocean salmon with (.5-5 ppb) PCB’s and a good balance of EPA/DHA fatty acids.
High PCB levels have also been found in…
Pork 18 ppb
Skip Jack Tuna 45
White Albacore Tuna 100
(The FDA considers 2000 ppb of PCB’s to be unsafe)
If the diet of a group of 100,000 people were to be adjusted to include 1000 mg of EPA/DHA daily from even ‘farmed’ salmon over a typical 70 year lifetime, the increased risk of cancer in this group from PCB’s they consumed would result in approximately 16 more people dying of cancer than would otherwise be expected if they had consumed a “Standard American Diet”. However, the protective effects of consuming 1000 mg of extra fish oils daily would result in 7,100 fewer deaths than normally would occur from heart disease!
A population consuming a typical “Standard American Diet” is higher in meat and land animal consumption, as well as the intake of partially hydrogenated oils from processed, fried, and fast foods. Eating such high proportions of “bad" vs. "good" fats in the diet results in a much greater likelihood of heart disease, which is currently the most common cause of death in the United States. If we were to add fish to our diet or take supplemental fish oil we could greatly decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular disease, even if at times we didn't eat fish of wild ocean origin.
Try to include at least 1-2 grams of EPA + DHA per day in your diet, either by eating fish or fish oil supplements. If you have documented coronary heart disease, you should include at least 2-3 grams of EPA + DHA in your diet. Patients with high cholesterol or triglycerides can lower their values by as much as 40 percent by taking 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA per day. If you are taking 2-3 grams of EPA + DHA per day, consult with your physician because high intakes tend to prevent blood from clotting and may cause excessive nose bleeding. Therefore be sure you are not taking aspirin or any other blood thinning medication with fish oils without consulting your physician.
Different fish contain different amounts of EPA & DHA, so you may wish to consult the following chart which lists the content of these fats for various fish you may include in your diet.
I also recommend concentrated fish oil supplements if you wish to supplement adequate levels of EPA and DHA without eating fish daily in rather significant amounts. Most fish oil supplements contain only a fraction of these key ingredients, so you have to read the label carefully, and look for‘extra-strength’ or ‘concentrated’ formulas. I strongly recommend getting capsules and not getting a liquid since even refrigerated, liquids become rancid very quickly with exposure to oxygen and light. There are more and more companies which are coming out with less expensive extra-strength formulas -- better deals are often available on the web -- and here are some examples requiring lower daily dosages…
Click Here For My Nutritional Recommendations For My Patients Handout and page down to the section on Fish Oils.
Remember, never take Fish Oil supplements without first consulting your doctor if (1) you are taking any other medication (especially pain killers or blood thinners), or (2) to self-treat any medical condition or problem,