You always read that fish is good for you. During pregnancy omega 3 and 6 are important for brain development. VegetarianBaby.com has an article about the dangers of mercury contamination. We have all read many, many warnings about the risks of eating tuna, shark, swordfish and mackerel. So when you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and you would like to take the risk you can. Women who are pregnant need to understand the risk that can be passed on to their babies from eating large fish.
Mercury is released into the air by coal-fired power plants, chlorine plants, and automobile scrapping sites which melt mercury based light switches for recycling. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. Exposed to air, it will evaporate, creating very dangerous mercury vapors. The mercury then settles into the lakes and rivers being absorbed by the fish. Tuna, sharks, swordfish and mackerel live for a longer time than other fish which gives them more time to absorb the mercury.
Each year in the U.S., up to 600,000 children are born at risk for lower intelligence and learning problems due to mercury exposure because their mothers ate fish. That’s the number of children the Environmental Protection Agency estimated to be at risk in an analysis published last month using data from the Centers for Disease Control. This is double the Agency’s previous estimate.
The hundreds of thousands of babies born every year in the U.S. to the one in six women with enough mercury in their blood to put their babies at risk suffer most often subtle losses in potential. Although mercury can cause irreparable damage to the human central nervous system and has been found to deform fetuses, more often, “It might reduce IQ by a few points,” says Dr. Michael Gochfeld, chairman of New Jersey’s mercury task force. “It might reduce motor coordination, so that this child is someone we think of as a klutz. It might make them unmusical.”
For adults, mercury overload from eating fish can cause fatigue and memory loss–something we clinicians often call “fish fog”. Mercury poisons the heart and may double one’s risk of dying from a heart attack. In fact, the mercury contamination in fish and fish oil may be so extensive that some recent data suggests that it may cancel out the benefits of the omega 3’s in the fish.
There are a number of studies, for example, showing increased mortality among fish-eaters, which we think is from the toxic mercury. Thankfully, plant-based sources of omega 3’s provide a safe and healthy alternative.
A good alternative is Flax seed oil. The one I took while I was pregnant was Udo’s Choice 3.6.9 Oil Blend. I actually used to take it by spoon in the morning, but you can put it over a salad or in a smoothie. It just can’t be heated. Another great alternative is “wild” Salmon. M&M foods has 5oz portions and Presidents Choice now carries it as well.