The Truth About Mercury Levels in Fish
One of the things that many pregnant women are told by conventional medicine is that they need to seriously limit their intake of fish and other seafood during pregnancy. The problem, it is said, is that fish - particularly larger fish - are a serious source of mercury, which in high levels can cause issues for developing babies and, later, young children. However, much scientific evidence shows that our fears of mercury contamination are overblown and that these very fears may actually be holding pregnant women back from getting the best possible pregnancy diet, which should include plenty of healthy seafood products. Here's what you need to know about the real issue with mercury during pregnancy:
Mercury occurs naturally
While we tend to think of mercury poisoning as only an outcome of serious industrialization and fossil fuel burning, mercury is actually a natural byproduct for most organisms, but particularly for those that live in water. This organic mercury - or methyl mercury - has long been a part of the human diet anywhere that humans have habitually eaten seafoods. The problem, today, is that industrial mercury has caused lakes, rivers, and oceans to be overloaded with mercury - to the point of poisoning animal populations and humans who eat from those populations. Naturally occurring mercury, though, is found in more reasonable amounts and doesn't seem to harm human health at all.
Mercury comes from many sources besides seafood
It's really easy, actually, to eat grains without having to worry about the toxic overload they can cause in the body when not properly prepared. One of the best ways to process grains is to remove the bran and then ferment them before consumption. You can also sprout your own grains at home before cooking with them. However, it's important to learn how to deal with different types of grains, seeds, and nuts separately, since their different structures and contents will make it necessary to process them in different ways.
Mercury comes from many sources besides seafood
Another thing that you should know about mercury is that high mercury levels in humans are rarely caused by fish consumption alone. In fact, mercury comes to use through many food additives as well as through vaccines. Even vaccines that are said to be mercury free may still contain some as a preservative, and the ever-popular flu vaccine has tons of mercury in it! You are more at risk of being overexposed to mercury through these sources than you are to be exposed to it through fish.
Benefits outweigh risks
Recently, many studies have been done on populations who naturally subsist on fish, even in areas where mercury levels were higher than generally considered safe. One study in the Seychelles Islands on women who consumed fish about twelve times a week showed that the women did, indeed, have higher than average blood levels of mercury. However, the women had perfectly healthy babies! In this study, the women who ate more fish each week also tended to have smarter children, which seems to show that the benefits of eating fish outweighed the risks of mercury in the fish!
The truth is that our fears about mercury poisoning come from an incident in the 1950s when huge amounts of methyl mercury were released into Japan's Minamata Bay. In this case, the mercury levels did cause serious problems for pregnant women and their resulting children, but the enormous concentration of methyl mercury found here is absolutely higher than what you find today in any area of the ocean or in lakes or rivers! Since that single, isolated, tragic incident, there have been no other cases of mercury poisoning from fish!
Clearly, then, if consuming fish and fish products can help make smarter babies and healthier children, and if actual risks of mercury overdose are slender, pregnant women should be consuming fish often. Of course, it's best to try to limit mercury exposure by eating fish taken from the healthiest possible natural environments. This is just common sense, though, since fish that are taken from healthy environments are going to be healthier and will provide your body and your baby with more nutrients!
So, if you've been scared out of eating fish regularly during pregnancy, rethink your position based on scientific evidence. Give your body and your baby what they need by eating plenty of seafood based items during pregnancy!
If you want to know more about other foods you should be eating during pregnancy to give your baby the best possible shot at life, check out Healing Our Children. This informational resource is full of scientifically-supported information that can help you make the best, most nutritious choices for you and your baby throughout your pregnancy.
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