Volume 2, Issue 12
March 19, 2009

How to eat fish without

poisoning yourself

You may know that eating fish can be hazardous to your health. Even mainstream publications have caught on to the fact that the world’s fish supply is tainted with mercury. But there’s one thing the media hasn’t told you. There’s a very simple way to eat fish without poisoning yourself.

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published an article entitled, “Fish intake, contaminants, and human health.” In the article, the authors noted the many dangers of methyl mercury. Methyl mercury is formed from inorganic mercury, which is common in the environment.

When a volcano explodes, it releases mercury into the atmosphere. The same thing happens when electric plants burn coal, or when waste companies incinerate waste. There are numerous industrial processes that release mercury into the air. Rain then brings the inorganic mercury from the atmosphere into lakes and oceans. There it’s converted by bacterial activity into methyl mercury.

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Methyl mercury is very toxic. Unlike inorganic mercury, your body absorbs it easily in the digestive tract. Your body then transports it into tissues, where it poisons you. Plants, such as algae, plankton, and other foods that fish feed on also absorb the methyl mercury. So when you eat fish, you’re also eating all of the methyl mercury that the fish has eaten.

The amount of methyl mercury found in fish depends on how long the fish lives.  Older fish have more methyl mercury than their younger cousins because they have more time to accumulate the mercury.

It also depends on how predatory the fish is. Highly predatory fish accumulate more methyl mercury because they eat more. Longer-living, larger predators, such as swordfish and shark, have the highest levels of methyl mercury. Smaller or shorter-lived fish, such as shellfish, trout, and salmon, have only 1/20th as much.

The more fish you eat, especially if you eat the ones with the highest levels, the more methyl mercury your body will amass. The longer you live, the more you will store. Many people over 50 have unhealthy amounts of methyl mercury.

In addition to mercury, fish also contain two wonderful fats. One is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the other docosapentaenoic acid (DHA). These fats are so effective at improving both neurological and cardiovascular function, that the damage done by the methyl mercury is somewhat offset by the benefit of the fats. So much so, that the authors of a recent study concluded that “the benefits of fish intake exceed the potential risks.” But let me take this one step further.

Why eat any methyl mercury at all? It can’t be good for you. Why not just have your fish and eat it too? This is what I advise my patients to do — unless they’re pregnant. I tell my pregnant patients to avoid fish completely. The risks just aren’t worth it. You can get enough mercury-free EPA and DHA in gel-caps, such as those sold in Advanced Bionutritionals Healthy Resolve.

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But I tell all of my other patients to eat all the fish they want. But when they do, I tell them to take DMSA at the same time.

DMSA (dimercaptosuccinic acid) is a naturally occurring substance that chelates mercury. This means that it binds to mercury, and does not allow it to be absorbed in the intestinal tract. It also binds any mercury that’s already in the body and takes it out in the urine.

DMSA is extremely effective both at stopping mercury absorption, and removing mercury from the body. And it’s entirely safe when you take it in recommended doses. An adult can very safely take up to 1,500 mg per week. Whenever I eat any type of fish (especially the larger ones), I haul out my little supplement case and take three 100 mg capsules of DMSA before the meal. And then I can forget about mercury and enjoy my meal.

You can do the same. Feel free to eat any fish you want. Just make sure you take DMSA along with it. DMSA capsules are available at most health foods stores. If you don’t have DMSA handy, stick to the smaller, cold-water fish, such as trout and salmon. They still have mercury, but not as much.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB. Fish intake, contaminants, and human health. JAMA, October 18, 2006. Vol. 296, No 15. 1885-99.

Copyright 2009 Soundview Publishing, LLC

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