What Consumer Reports Says About Fish

Fish ToxicI have written and lectured extensively on the benefits of omega-3 fish oil for human health.  Last month in Consumer Reports, an independent, member supported magazine that reviews consumer products, reported on the fish and its health benefits.  Specifically they noted a recent FDA report that encouraged pregnant women and children to eat more fish.  Per the FDA news release in June 2014 – “We’re updating our advice because the latest science strongly indicates that eating 8 to 12 ounces per week of a variety of fish lower in mercury during pregnancy benefits fetal growth and development.”  Read FDA recommendations HERE

Great news!  Even the FDA realizes the health benefits of omega-3!  But as pointed out in the Consumer Reports article there is a big problem with this recommendation.  You can’t smell, taste or see mercury in the fish, and the store where you buy it doesn’t test for it either.  So how can any consumer determine what fish or seafood is low in mercury?  In addition, as pointed out by Consumer Reports, all fish has mercury and other toxins, just some have more and some have less.  The government points out that some fish species are “known” to have less than others and these are the ones pregnant women should select.  But this is still just a guess. Mercury is toxic to human nervous tissue including the brain and especially harmful to a developing fetus in larger amounts.  Here is what Consumer Reports said:

Though the agencies say consumers should seek out fish that are low in mercury, almost all seafood contains the toxin in varying amounts, and getting too much of it can damage the brain and nervous system. That is especially true for fetuses, but children and adults who eat too much high-mercury seafood also can suffer harmful effects such as problems with fine motor coordination, speech, sleep, and walking, and prickly sensations. Read entire article HERE

So what are pregnant women, young children and the rest of us to do?  Unlike the rest of the developed world the US has no standardized daily recommendations as to how much omega-3 you need.  There are, however, numerous  recommendations from European countries, Canada and professional medical societies like  American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that recommend a minimum of 200 mg of DHA daily is required for pregnant women.(1)  Of course I eat fish and will continue to recommend it as occasional meal that can have significant health benefits. But why guess on how much to eat or not eat? I recommend daily fish oil supplements as a way to insure the amount and quality of EPA and DHA needed to provide critical support to every organ system in the body.  Omega-3 (fish oil) supplements are purified of toxins and better yet you know exactly how much of the active ingredients (EPA and DHA) you are getting.  Specifically I recommend high quality, concentrated omega-3 capsules that are certified as pure.

1. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Fall; 3(4): 163–171.