Mercury in Fish

Danielle Farias
September 27, 2021

Fish is an important source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and several micronutrients. A well-balanced diet should contain a variety of fish and shellfish as the benefits of a fish heavy diet far outweigh the bad and are a vital part of proper growth and development. It’s important to know there are some traces of mercury in all fish and shellfish. This is due to smaller fish being eaten by larger fish, and continuing up the food chain. This results in concentrated levels of mercury and persistent organic pollutants(POPs) in large, deep-water fish such as swordfish, shark, and tile fish.

There are several varieties that are contaminated with higher levels of mercury that are considered harmful, especially to pregnant women, nursing mothers and developing children. By regularly ingesting high levels of mercury it can build up in our bodies and impact brain function and heart health.

Here’s a list of fish to consume regularly due to their lower mercury levels, and fish to avoid due to higher levels.


In general, a healthy diet should consist of 12 ounces (2 average meals) of low mercury fish or shellfish a week. Most commonly eaten low mercury fish/shellfish are shrimp, salmon, pollock, and canned light tuna. A well-balanced diet should incorporate each of these for variation.

Check out safety advisories and try and always choose wild-caught vs. farmed. The health benefits of wild-caught come from eating other organisms found in their environment. While farmed are given a processed, high fat, high protein diet to make them large. This dietary difference can be seen in wild-caught vs. farmed nutritional content. As shown below in, specifically, salmon species.

Data from Which is Better: Wild Salmon or Farmed Salmon? (

Wild salmon seems to have higher levels of the natural minerals, iron and calcium.

Overall, there are great health benefits to eating a diet rich in fish and shellfish. The lean protein and fatty omega-3’s have phenomenal brain supporting properties. We recommend incorporating two servings of low mercury fish into your weekly diet to reap the awesome health benefits and take a step to improving your health.




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