When it comes to lunch, nothing beats canned tuna. Mix it with some mayonnaise for a tuna falafel sandwich, slice tomatoes, some boiled potatoes, and an egg for a Niçoise salad, toss it with your favorite pasta and some dressing, or straight out of the can Take out and serve with some biscuits. It’s easy to eat tuna every day without getting bored — but is it safe? If you’ve heard the warnings about mercury and fish, you may be wondering if you should cut back on your tuna consumption.
“In my medical toxicology practice, I get a lot of questions about this,” says medical toxicologist and co-medical director and interim executive director of the National Capital Poison Center Kelly Johnson Arbor,Medical PhD.Read on to find out what she had to say best life about how often also Often when eating tuna – who is most susceptible to mercury poisoning, whether from fish or other sources.
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Adding fish to your diet can provide great nutrition. Johnson-Arbor lists improved heart health and reduced cancer risk as several health benefits of eating fish.
“Many types of fish, including tuna, are healthy food choices and provide many beneficial nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, choline, iron and protein,” she says. “These nutrients are necessary for brain development and also support overall health.”
However, fish can also contain mercury, which is toxic to humans, she points out.
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“Fish may be naturally contaminated with mercury through environmental or industrial processes,” Johnson-Arbor explained. “When mercury enters waterways, it is consumed by fish and bioaccumulates up the food chain. Larger fish, including tuna, swordfish and sharks, are more likely to have higher levels of mercury than smaller fish.”
You might think of mercury as the silver beads in an old-fashioned glass thermometer, but Johnson-Arbor says mercury in fish is different. “The mercury found in fish is usually methylmercury, an organic form of mercury,” she notes. “Methylmercury is a powerful neurotoxin that can cause damage to the developing brain of fetuses, infants and children.”
Therefore, she said, people who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, breastfeeding parents, infants and children should limit their consumption of fish that may contain mercury, including tuna.
Johnson-Arbor has good news for adult tuna lovers who are not pregnant or breastfeeding: “Adults who eat tuna or other high-mercury fish are less likely to experience symptoms of mercury toxicity, and eating fish often has health benefits that outweigh methylmercury The risk of consumption,” she said.
If you’re concerned about mercury levels in fish, note that Johnson-Arbor says that albacore or albacore tuna has about three times as much mercury as chunk tuna. “Guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) state that high-risk groups can eat two to three servings of large tuna per week. For reference, a serving of fish is about the size of the palm of your hand.”
Bottom line? “Occasional consumption of tuna in excess of recommended amounts is unlikely to cause detrimental health effects in healthy adults,” Johnson-Arbor said.
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Of course, mercury is still toxic and a serious problem for vulnerable populations. “Children, infants, and fetuses exposed to large amounts of methylmercury may experience developmental delays, memory and learning problems, or other signs and symptoms of brain damage,” Johnson-Arbor said best life“These adverse events may occur in children born to mothers exposed to methylmercury during pregnancy, even when the mother is asymptomatic.”
If your child eats “excessive amounts of tuna or other fish high in mercury” and you’re concerned about the possibility of mercury poisoning, she urges you to contact your healthcare provider. “Blood and urine tests are available to evaluate for mercury poisoning,” she said. “You or your doctor can contact a poison control center for expert guidance on how to perform these tests and interpret the test results.”
There are two ways to contact Poison Control in the US: online at www.poison.org or by phone at 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.
Best Life provides the latest information from top experts, new research and health agencies, but our content is not a substitute for professional guidance. If you have specific health questions or concerns, please always consult your healthcare provider directly.