Something smells fishy

Mercury is not in retrograde, but it is in your fish.

Much to the dismay of sushi lovers and pescatarians, it is no secret that eating too much fish can increase your chances of mercury poisoning. Mercury is very dangerous so avoiding mercury poisoning should be top-of-mind. However, as you indulge in yet another kaleidoscope of colorful sashimi, this concern falls to the bottom of your latest soy sauce and wasabi concoction.

To help you navigate your next fishy encounter, our doctors have the low-down on how to minimize your risk of getting mercury poisoning.

“As a rule small fish contain less mercury and larger fish contain more. Check local advisories (department of fish and wildlife) for mercury load in your area.” — Dr. Stuart Hickerson

This makes total sense. Of course larger fish contain more mercury! Now you’re good to start brainstorming a list of fish with low mercury content for your next seafood soirée. You can even ask our doctors for help!

However, there can be a few personal characteristics that might make this rule of thumb a bit more complex. Perhaps you’re pregnant or allergic to fish all together! If you are allergic to fish, don’t touch it. If you are pregnant, Dr. Fisher’s advice may come in handy.

“Some fish contain high amounts of mercury — enough to damage a fetus or newborn. That is why pregnant and nursing mothers must be very careful about the amounts and types of fish they eat. Young children should also avoid eating fish high in mercury. According to the FDA, pregnant women and small children (under 6) should not eat more than 2 servings of fish each week.” — Dr. Michael Fisher

There is also the common guideline that pregnant women should avoid raw fish. However, those of us that are able to enjoy raw fish might still have some concern about the health risks of consuming raw meat. Sushi is extremely tasty but it is often very fresh and very raw. To put your mind at ease, Dr. Giannone explains why you should make sure that you eat sushi made from highly-trained individuals.

“The main concern with sushi is obviously the chance of bacterial infection in the context of eating raw fish. Those who make sushi for us to eat undergo rigorous and lengthy training in order to prepare the raw fish in a way that minimizes the chance of infection while allowing us to eat such an awesome delicacy, So, yes, sushi is safe if the correct people are making it.” — Dr. Dean Giannone

Now that you have some more guidance around mercury poisoning, be sure to share the knowledge to help others make educated choices the next time they decide to order the fish.


Author: Maya Gilliss-Chapman

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