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  1. #1
    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    Can eating too much tuna REALLY lead to mercury poisoning?

    Alright, so I know this topic's been done many times before, but browsing through those threads, I haven't found a definitive answer. All of them were either links to the various widely accepted recommendations or repudiation very eloquently put as "I've been eating tuna three times a day for months now and I'm not dead yet".

    I've also stumbled upon this - http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/...-fish-fly.html - where the author claims that it's basically impossible for people to eat that much tuna (or other mercury containing fish) so as to get mercury poisoning. She supports her views with discerning between reference doses (if I gathered correctly, these are the recommendations put forth by various organisations) and benchmark doses.

    I've also done a quick PubMed search and again, no luck, basically just some articles with the same recommendations against eating too much mercury containing fish.

    Anyone more versed in these matters care to shed some more light on this, so that it's settled once and for all?
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    In my opinion, the lean protein source(+ Omega-3) outweighs the possible risk of mercury poisoning, I'm sure there are a wealth of sources to be read, but I just find it silly to obsess over such a small risk. And seeing as this food will very likely be a staple in my diet, maybe I'll find out.
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    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    Well, I'm really interested in finding out the answer to this question, as I'm currently erring on the safe side and eating 2 cans of tuna (each about 7 oz.) a week, as per the guidelines. As for being silly for obsessing over such a small risk, well, that's basically what I want to get a grasp of, just how big of a risk it is.
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    Registered User Confuzzl3dOn3's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xAlphax View Post
    In my opinion, the lean protein source(+ Omega-3) outweighs the possible risk of mercury poisoning, I'm sure there are a wealth of sources to be read, but I just find it silly to obsess over such a small risk. And seeing as this food will very likely be a staple in my diet, maybe I'll find out.
    The thing is how "small" is this risk. People say u shouldn't eat raw eggs not only for the decreased BA, but also because u increase chances of getting salmonella. Would u say this is an insignificant "small risk"?

    And den the hype about GM food. Would it be bad for u and such. Some people take this really seriously and got out of their way to eat organic and all that. So i guess the question is how "small" is small enough not to care
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  5. #5
    Registered User Johnsmatrix's Avatar
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    Different types of fish have different levels of mercury. You know that if we wouldnt burn coal we would have this problem yada yada yada. Too much tuna just like excess of anything else is bad. I just read an article about one of my favorite actor Jeremy Piven ( entourage ) who became ill last year and had to drop out of his broadway show. IT was because his diet was soley based of fish excluding meats and he got mercury poisoning.
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    Firstly, his diet wasn't SOLELY based off fish, he ate it like a normal person would eat meat, but his mercury level was also 30x that which they say is toxic, so you do the math. Yes Tuna is extremely high in mercury.
    "About 40% of all U.S. exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna from the Pacific, and roughly 75% of all human exposure to mercury comes from eating fish, according to U.S. officials."
    I wish people on here and people in general would actually know what they are talking about before they go and give others advice. They here someone say something, or they see ads on t.v. and they go talking about it like they have been studying it for years.
    DON'T EAT TUNA, it's bad for you, and bad for the ocean.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Confuzzl3dOn3's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by borlef View Post
    Firstly, his diet wasn't SOLELY based off fish, he ate it like a normal person would eat meat, but his mercury level was also 30x that which they say is toxic, so you do the math. Yes Tuna is extremely high in mercury.
    "About 40% of all U.S. exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna from the Pacific, and roughly 75% of all human exposure to mercury comes from eating fish, according to U.S. officials."
    I wish people on here and people in general would actually know what they are talking about before they go and give others advice. They here someone say something, or they see ads on t.v. and they go talking about it like they have been studying it for years.
    DON'T EAT TUNA, it's bad for you, and bad for the ocean.
    Don't worry i'll eat your share 4 u
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  8. #8
    Eat More SkarTissue's Avatar
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    I've always heard that in order to actually get mercury poisoning from eating too much fish is to literally eat pounds of it a day. Which would be way too much for your body to digest and that's when the mercury overload kicks in
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  9. #9
    Registered User Confuzzl3dOn3's Avatar
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    I guess in all honesty it depends on a few things eg:
    how well the individual can tolerate/dispose/excrete the mercury
    how much mercury is in the fish (different brands of canned tuna would probably vary quite a bit)

    I just eat about a can (roughly 110-120g) of canned tuna on like 6 out of 7 days. And sometimes at night i would have like salmon or some other fish (not canned but fresh fillets).
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  10. #10
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    Originally Posted by xAlphax View Post
    In my opinion, the lean protein source(+ Omega-3) outweighs the possible risk of mercury poisoning, ...

    Are the protein and Omega 3s you would get from tuna unique and unavailable from other sources?

    What benefits do you get from the ingestion of mercury?
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  11. #11
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    Always wanted to know this
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    I eat like 2 or 3 cans daily. Is that too much?
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  13. #13
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    Read this http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nut...d-mercury.html

    Should answer alot of questions.
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    what type of tuna? Albacore live longer so have more mercury.
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    Registered User EmperorRyker's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AndrewWard123 View Post
    Read this http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nut...d-mercury.html

    Should answer alot of questions.
    I've read this already and it seems to be going in the direction of "mainstream" recommendations. But when I stumbled upon the site I linked above it made me wonder whether this is actually true.
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  16. #16
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    Go with Skipjack ... less merc

    I worked it out once and don't have all the exact numbers anymore but if I recall I could eat something like 17cans of skipjack per week before I'd hit the warning level. The most I eat is 10cans /week (2/day mon-fri)

    I've never had any symtoms of merc poisoning. Besides you can still detox heavy metals with other food choices
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  17. #17
    Registered User zither's Avatar
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    Of course it can. There is a reason why the FDA puts a limit on mercury in seafood, and in fact this limit is significantly lower in other countries. Even though certain food products (e.g. albacore tuna) may come in under the allowed maximum, you can't just eat as much as you want and expect to be safe.

    It is very convenient to say "so what, the benefits of protein and omega-3's outweigh the mercury." While this would be true if you were substituting canned tuna for a hamburger, it ignores the fact that are there are other sources of protein and omega-3's that don't provide anywhere near the mercury risk. It also ignores the fact that this is only true in moderation - once you start eating high-mercury seafood a couple times a day the marginal benefits decrease while the mercury piles up.
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    Registered User Confuzzl3dOn3's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zither View Post
    Of course it can. There is a reason why the FDA puts a limit on mercury in seafood, and in fact this limit is significantly lower in other countries. Even though certain food products (e.g. albacore tuna) may come in under the allowed maximum, you can't just eat as much as you want and expect to be safe.

    It is very convenient to say "so what, the benefits of protein and omega-3's outweigh the mercury." While this would be true if you were substituting canned tuna for a hamburger, it ignores the fact that are there are other sources of protein and omega-3's that don't provide anywhere near the mercury risk. It also ignores the fact that this is only true in moderation - once you start eating high-mercury seafood a couple times a day the marginal benefits decrease while the mercury piles up.
    Ok so it would be deemed ok to eat a can (about 110-120g) of tuna daily? The thing is that (here in aussie at least) they don't go around putting mercury = ___mg on their labels. I guess it'd be pretty stupid to put that on from their point of view if they're trying to sell their product (unless of course they had really low merc lvls and are trying to use that as a selling point). But its so hard to determine how high merc lvls it has so yeah.
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    I would look carefully to find out what species you are eating. Here in America, the species albacore is generally labeled as "white tuna", while the species skipjack is generally labeled "light tuna". Albacore is about 4-5 times higher in mercury than skipjack. Eating a can of skipjack every day is probably safe, but you wouldn't want to eat much more mercury than that. Albacore, on the other hand, I wouldn't eat more than twice a week - and that's as an adult male; I wouldn't touch the stuff if I were a woman of child-bearing age. (There is also canned yellowfin - this is just as high as albacore)

    But the best advice is just to vary your fish intake - don't eat big fish all the time. Try some other canned fish (or if you can afford it, filets). And don't worry if the other fish is less lean - these are incredibly healthy fats.
    Last edited by zither; 11-08-2009 at 10:44 PM.
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    As far as i can see on my Portview brand tuna (bought at Aldi ), it says flaked tuna in the ingredients. Product of Thailand. So no idea. But yeah i usually eat other fish (salmon, trout) fillets it's just for brekkie it's a lot more convenient just to pop open a can of tuna.
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    this actor Jeremy Piven was a fish lover...ate tuna, salmon for 15 months...twice a day.

    got mercury poisoning.

    just recovered from it.
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    Yeah, thanks for posting that, but should you have read the original post you would've seen this is exactly the kind of "evidence" I wasn't looking for.
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    just chiming in.... a friend of mine ate tuna everyday for a year and got blood work done by his doctor to check for mercury, they found he did NOT have abnormal levels of mercury in his system
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    Tuna contains large amounts of selenium.

    Selenium binds with mercury and the new molecule is passed harmlessly from the body. You would have to consume extreme amounts of tuna to bypass this natural protection.

    A can of tuna everyday is safe for most males. Dietary considerations are different for pregnant females, seniors and children.

    As with anything else...a healthy diet is a varied diet....eating too many of any one thing isn't smart as it can lead to deficiencies or "too much of a good thing".
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    Do you have any link to studies or scientific articles on that?
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    Originally Posted by EmperorRyker View Post
    Do you have any link to studies or scientific articles on that?
    Google it? There's only 1 trillion articles on it.

    That's like asking for a scientific study on whether or not human beings use Oxygen.
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    I did google it and the only thing I've come up with was recommendations akin to those of FDA, where there's no mention of selenium being the saviour in regards to mercury. So if there's a trillion articles on it, could you perhaps point me towards a couple, preferably studies or scientific articles? And don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to find something that says I can eat tuna more than twice a day, but so far all I've stumbled upon called for a different conclusion.
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    I just eat sardines...

    1. Much Cheaper
    2. More Vitamin D
    3. More calcium (because you eat the bones)
    4. Minimum Mercury (sardines are near the bottom of the food chain)
    5. More EFAs
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    Sardines are the bomb.

    I could live off homebrand sardines in springwater.
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    Originally Posted by waynebw View Post
    I just eat sardines...

    1. Much Cheaper
    2. More Vitamin D
    3. More calcium (because you eat the bones)
    4. Minimum Mercury (sardines are near the bottom of the food chain)
    5. More EFAs
    Yeah, agreed, I like sardines, as well, though they aren't cheaper where I live and it's hard to find them without oil already being added in the can.
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