I seem to be on a health kick lately. Partly it is because I'm fighting a parasite that hitched a ride home with me from India. Partly it is a defensive maneuver to shore up my spirits. I'm reading a great deal about how mercury affects our bodies, and it is depressing that anyone in their right mind could justify letting it spew into the air--as it does from unregulated coal-fired power plants. The state where my first son was born, Texas, has seven of the worst offenders in the country.
I stopped eating most fish a while ago. I got confused every time I went to the market and tried to figure out what was on the endangered list, what was over fished--and what was toxic. Too much mercury in the fish.
Tuna, swordfish, grouper, orange roughy, halibut, and Atlantic salmon have been identified as having high levels of mercury in them. (Wild Alaskan salmon is relatively clean.) Many farm-raised fish are no better--they're fed tons of fish that contain mercury.
As always, the burden is on us. The consumer is supposed to figure out where the mercury is, what was made with BPA, which thing has lead in it....Come on!
Of course there is a simple solution: Stop the coal plants from spewing mercury into the air in the first place. That way, the air won't carry it to the water, the fish won't eat it--and neither will we.
While we're waiting for coal plant owners and pollution-supporting lobbyists and politicians to see the light, many of us have cut back our fish consumption. There's nothing like sitting in a room full of scientists who really know their stuff to make you get real serious, and fast, about what you're eating.
But we need those Omega-3 fatty acids; they reduce inflammation and they're important for cognitive function--like memory. Pregnant women especially need omega 3s for their babies' healthy development.
So we take fish oil pills. But I recently learned--sitting in meetings with toxicologists--that fish oil pills, if they are simply made of extracted oils, are giving you mercury in concentrated form. Fish oil pills should be molecularly distilled; labels should state that the product is mercury free.
I was so stunned by this information that I wanted to share it as soon as I could.
You can also, by the way, get your omegas from flax, chia, or hemp seeds. If you are eating fish, EDF has a good guide to help you choose what to buy.