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Health Tip: Gauging Mercury Levels in Fish

-- While fish and shellfish may be delectable and in many cases, part of a healthy diet, they often contain mercury.

Women of childbearing age and children should be cautious about the amounts they eat, since mercury can harm a developing nervous system.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers these guidelines for fish and shellfish consumption among women of childbearing age and children:

  • Avoid eating shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel because they may contain high amounts of mercury.
  • Fish and shellfish with lower mercury levels include shrimp, salmon, catfish, and pollock. For these types of seafood, it's generally safe for adults to eat up to 12 ounces (two average-sized meals) per week. Children's portions should be smaller
  • Here's a note for tuna lovers: canned light tuna generally has lower mercury levels than albacore tuna.
  • Pay attention to local advisories about mercury from fish caught in nearby waters.
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Posted: September 2009