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Mercury in Canned Tuna? Do I Need to Worry?

Tuna is a wonderful source of protein with many benefits including the fatty oils that may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.  In Japan, Tuna is highly praised and certain species of Tuna such as the Bluefin have been fetched for over 1.7m US Dollars.  Tuna has been a hot topic recently, even Jiro Ono has expressed his concerns on the state of Blue Fin Tuna.

For the state of Tuna used in Cans, most of the species used are sustainable where some species are currently being over fished.  Another issue has popped up in the last decade as many individuals around the world have become concerned with the amount of mercury in the fish that they consume.

While some fish can be very high in mercury the average consumer likely has no reason to exclude tuna from their lunchbox. In fact many researchers are concerned that the risks of tuna have been blown out of proportion in the last decade. After all every fish will contain some amount of mercury, even those that are very low in mercury. Experts don’t recommend eliminating fish from the diet of the average adult because you could miss out on some very important nutrients.

Is Tuna Bad for Me?

The simple answer to this question is no, while tuna may contain mercury its benefits far outweigh the risk of consuming this nutritious fish. In fact experts say that consuming tuna may provide the average consumer with a rich source of protein and a bounty of nutrition including omega-3 fatty acids. These acids help to preserve brain function throughout the lifespan and decrease the risk of major illnesses such as heart attack or stroke. Some researchers also suggest that regular consumption of oily fish may provide some protection against obesity as well.

Canned Tuna Mecury levels a danger?

Who is at Risk from Mercury Poisoning?

While theoretically anyone could be affected by mercury it is more likely to affect infants and young children. It seems that mercury does the most harm in those younger populations because of the continually developing nervous system. This makes the nervous system much more vulnerable in children. Most adults will not suffer the effects of mercury unless they are consuming large quantities of fish with high mercury content regularly. In fact adult males could eat canned tuna nearly every day of the work week with little to no effects. So while pregnant women should avoid consuming large amounts of seafood containing mercury, this is not true for most other healthy adults.

So if you’ve been taking tuna for your lunch there’s no need to worry. Tuna is a fantastic way to get in a quick nutritious meal. While pregnant women may want to be careful of their consumption, other adults may enjoy tuna and other seafood freely. If you are still very concerned about your mercury consumption remember that you can find more information from the EPA on federal recommendations for mercury limits within the average diet.

Most individuals need not worry though. If you are still concerned you may prefer to choose fish that are known to be lower in mercury. Don’t discount the benefits of tuna though. With the ability to protect from heart disease, stroke, and declining mental function in later years it really is a wonderful food. So grab your lunch with confidence and enjoy all of the benefits of that tasty tuna sandwich. 

Image source: canned tuna

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