What You Must Know Before You Eat Fish

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August 09, 2003 | 22,240 views

ByDr. Joseph Mercola
with Rachael Droege

As most readers of this newsletter know, I have been advising againsteating fish, whether from the ocean, lakes and streams, or farm-raised,for some time because of their dangerously high levels of mercury,PCBs and other toxins.

Sadly, as fish would otherwise be one of the healthiest meats onthe planet, fish (and shellfish) easily accumulate high levels ofchemical residues from the water they live in (fortunately, thereare still some healthy options, which I’ll discuss below).Residues in fish can be as much as 9 million times the amount foundin the water!

So before you open your next can of tuna or sit down to a plateof salmon, consider that contaminants found in fish flesh include:

Factory-Farmed Fish

If you eat fish in a restaurant, it most likely came from a fishfarm. Almost half of the salmon, 40 percent of the mollusks, and65 percent of the freshwater fish consumed today are raised on fishfarms. Not surprisingly, fish farming, a multimillion-dollar industry,has become one of the fastest-growing sections of the food productionmarket.

What many people don’t know is that farmed fish face manyof the same health issues as factory-farmed animals. In order tobe profitable, fish farms must raise large quantities of fish inconfined areas, and the overcrowding leads to disease and injuriesto the fish. The fish are given antibiotics and chemicals for theparasites like sea lice, skin and gill infections and other diseasesthat commonly affect them.

The fish are also given drugs and hormones, and sometimes are geneticallymodified, to accelerate growth and change reproductive behaviors.Farmed salmon are also given chemicals, canthaxanthin and astaxanthin,to turn their flesh pink in order to make them more marketable.Wild salmon eat a diet of shrimp and krill, which contain naturalchemicals that make the salmon pink. Farm-raised salmon do not eata natural diet, so their flesh would be gray if they were not giventhe additives.

Ocean Fish

Even fish that are ocean-caught are fraught with problems. Tragically,our oceans are largely contaminated with industrial pollutants.Ocean fish pick up these toxic chemical residues, which bioconcentratein their flesh.

The larger the fish, the more problematic because big fish eatsmaller fish, thereby getting an even greater dose of accumulatedtoxins.

Almost all fish are contaminated with mercury. Mercury is especiallydangerous to children and can cause birth defects during pregnancy.In adults, mercury damages or destroys nerve tissue and affectsthe visual cortex and the cerebellum, the part of the brain thatcontrols complex movements and balance. Exposure to mercury mayalso result in:

Pesticides in fish, such as DDT, PCBs, and dioxin, are also dangerous.They have been linked to cancers, nervous system disorders, fetaldamage and many other health problems.

How Do I Find Healthy Fish?

Unless you can verify that the fish has been lab-tested and foundto be free on contaminants, don’t eat it! When you visit yoursupermarket, ask the fish handlers where the fish comes from. Theymay contact the manufacturer for you, otherwise contact them onyour own and ask if their fish has been tested for mercury and PCBs.

Early last year we did extensive testing on fish from a companythat takes salmon from the interior of Alaska and were surprisedand delighted to find that the mercury levels were virtually undetectable.The company has also conducted numerous tests on the salmon andhas never once detected PCBs.

The salmon are sustainably harvested by a native Alaskan tribeto ensure the success of the species. After hatching, the Alaskansalmon swim upstream to pure, fresh water lakes where they feedand grow for one to three years before swimming out to the BeringSea. The salmon are sustainably harvested during their migration.

If you enjoy the delicious taste and immense health benefits ofsome of the world's finest salmon--Alaskanwild red--but you are concerned about the mercury and other toxinsnow found in dangerous amounts in almost all fish, then please considertrying the Alaskan wild red salmon from Vital Choice that testedsafe and is now available in our Web site store.The salmon contain very high levels of omega-3 with DHA and EPA.

Another option for obtaining the nutritional benefits of omega-3is regularly consuming high-quality krill oil.

Related Articles:

Fish Farms Become Feedlotsof the Sea

Do You Know the FactsAbout Mercury in Fish?

Dangerous PCBs Found inSalmon

Polluted Fish ReduceMale Birth Rate

Toxicology: How MercuryHarms Humans

Not Any Old Fish FoodWill Reduce Heart Attacks