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Should we really be concerned about mercury in fish?

Amid concerns of freshness and sustainability, here's another question customers may have at your fish counter. "Should I really be concerned about mercury?" A recent study suggests when it comes to fish, maybe not. The Swedish report found the beneficial nutrients in fish far outweigh any harmful effects from the known neurotoxin.

In the study, 900 men and women answered questions about the amount of fish in their diet. The researchers found that those who had higher-levels of mercury in their blood still benefitted from the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish.

Still, the information should not serve as a green light to line up for lobster at the nearest seafood buffet. A few researchers counter that there's something fishy about this recent study.  David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, in Rensselaer, New York, called the research inconclusive since the mercury in respondents' blood could not definitively be tied to fish consumption. He mentioned several other sources of environmental mercury, including coal-fired power plants and dental fillings that could account for the presence of the element.  

While mercury poisoning in the U.S. is rare, the potential effects of overexposure (vision loss, extremity numbness, hearing loss and ataxia) are worth avoiding at all cost. Babies exposed in utero are the most severely affected. Until there's more research on the topic, I'll remain eating seafood lower on the food chain. I suggest you encourage your customers to do the same. 

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