It doesn't matter if you consume it accidentally in food, inject it via vaccine, or let it leech for years into your mouth from a dental filling; mercury is toxic to the body in all its forms. Gratefully, the negative effects of mercury can be mitigated by essential fatty acids. New research suggests that mercury consumed from seafood may actually be the least of a consumer's worries because of the superior nutrition quality of the fish itself.
Health conscious consumers are careful not to eat too much fish because of the mercury that has bio-accumulated in the tissues of the fish. Coal-fired power plants let off mercury byproducts into the environment, into the water and the oceans. Over time the mercury works its way up the food chain and into fish. However, it turns out that the nutritional quality of the fish may outweigh the harmful effects of the mercury found in the fish. This is according to findings from the University of Rochester Ulster University, and the Republic of Seychelles Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Their findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids in fish counteract the negative effects of mercury
In three decades of research, Seychelles shows that a high level of fish consumption by pregnant mothers does not illicit developmental problems in their children. There is no damage done even when pregnant mothers ate an average of 12 seafood meals per week. Research indicates that the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) present in fish actually counteract the negative effects that mercury have on the human brain.
"These findings show no overall association between prenatal exposure to mercury through fish consumption and neurodevelopmental outcomes," said Edwin van Wijngaarden, Ph.D., and associate professor in the University of Rochester Department of Public Health Sciences and a co-author of the study. "It is also becoming increasingly clear that the benefits of fish consumption may outweigh, or even mask, any potentially adverse effects of mercury."
The finding also underscores the importance for pregnant women to consume adequate amounts of beneficial fatty acids to protect their child in the womb.
"This research provided us the opportunity to study the role of polyunsaturated fatty acids on development and their potential to augment or counteract the toxic properties of mercury," said Sean Strain, Ph.D., a professor of Human Nutrition at the Ulster University in Northern Ireland and lead author of the study. "The findings indicate that the type of fatty acids a mother consumes before and during pregnancy may make a difference in terms of their child's future neurological development."
Essential fatty acids protect the brain from environmental contaminants
The study investigated the lives of 89,000 people living on the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean. The people there consume fish 10 times the amount of populations in Europe and the US. The study followed 1500 mothers and their children. The researchers collected hair samples from the pregnant mothers to determine mercury exposure. The children were then put through several tests at 20 months that looked at motor skills, communication and behavior.
The researchers found out that mercury exposure from fish and other seafood did not affect the children's test scores. Some of the children were followed into their twenties. Still there was no association between fish consumption and neurological dysfunction.
The researchers found that mercury exposure did not correlate with lower test scores. This finding tracked with the results of previous studies by the group - some of which have followed children in the Seychelles into their 20s - that have also shown no association between fish consumption and subsequent neurological development. In fact, the children with the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids from fish actually performed better on the tests.
On top of that, the anti-inflammatory properties of the omega-3 fatty acids helped reverse the inflammation and oxidation caused by mercury, counteracting the toxin.
FDA warns about mercury in fish but goes silent about mercury fillings and injections
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration places heavy emphasis on the mercury content in fish and practically scares people away from seafood consumption. Hypocritically the FDA does little to set guidelines and bring awareness to the other forms of mercury exposure like direct injections of thimerosal into the blood via flu vaccines or constant exposure to the toxin through dental amalgams.
This study is unique because it makes these medical methods of mercury exposure seem more dangerous since they are not naturally accompanied by beneficial polyunsaturated fats (as found in fish) which protect the brain as it is being exposed to mercury.