Sharon brought up a good point in last week’s post.  She mentioned that her banker had to limit her intake of canned tuna to avoid debilitating headaches.  In fact, I’ve read so many articles on mercury poisoning recently that I’m currently off seafood.  What struck me initially while researching this topic was how grey this area can be?  Firstly, most tests conducted were done by an independent party and what they considered to be a “high” level of mercury would be considered to be a “normal” level by the FDA or another established organization.

According to the EPA fish tested contain an unsafe amount of mercury. Illustration by John Blanchard/The Chronicle

One article in particular included both parties’ possible intentions about the high levels of mercury in consumer fish.  Ms. Zito of the Chronicle allows both representatives of GotMercury.org and the seafood industry to plead their cases.  According to an independent study, tuna and swordfish taken from grocery stores and restaurants in California “contained mercury levels as much as three times the threshold that authorizes federal food regulators to pull seafood from shelves”.  However, representatives of the seafood industry felt that these results were “misleading” due to GotMercury.org being incorporated with the Turtle Island Restoration Network.  It’s an interesting article and it’s very recent if you have a moment, I encourage you to read it.  Especially, if you are in the San Francisco area.

How does mercury poisoning occur?  As the aforementioned article explains, it starts on the bottom – literally.  Actually it becomes more toxic at the bottom of the ocean floor, when it becomes methylmercury.  Mercury in its natural form is deposited into the ocean from the air (the burning of natural compounds can release mercury into the environment) and small microorganisms ingest it.  A larger organism then ingests the microorganisms and thus begins a chain of events that causes the mercury to become more toxic.  The higher the organism is on the food chain the more toxic methylmercury will become.

We’ve mentioned before that it’s hard to know what information is reliable, so in this case we recommend as always stay informed.  And as always that’s a lot easier said than done.  But we felt that finding your local health advocacy groups to get more information is a great way to start.  If you are suffering from fatigue, headaches or intestinal cramps often you may want to take a look at your “healthy” diet.

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