There is no question that fish and shellfish are an important piece of a healthy diet—they are an excellent protein source and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, they often also contain high levels of mercury.
To quote from a 2004 bulletin put out by the EPA and FDA, “nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury…The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish.” They caution that women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, women who are nursing, and young children are most at risk, but we have found in our practice that no one, of any age or sex, benefits from having extra poisonous mercury in their system.
Good Fish, Bad Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
In general, the most toxic fish include salmon (Atlantic, farmed), tuna, grouper, and swordfish. Safer alternatives include talapia, halibut, and mahi mahi. (For a complete list, download the Pocket Guide at the bottom of this page.)
The two most popular fish in America, tuna and salmon, make this bad list. But this doesn’t mean you can never eat these beloved foods ever again. You just need to be careful about the source and quality of the fish you do eat.
One resource for excellent quality, nutritionally rich, sustainably harvested and processed seafood is a company called Vital Choice. It is endorsed by the likes of Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Christiane Northrup…and Drs. Eric and Kristina Lewis! As you know, we don’t endorse products and companies lightly. Here are a few reasons why we like this one:
- According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Farmed (Atlantic) salmon has more antibiotics administered by weight than any other form of livestock.
- In contrast, Alaskan (Wild) salmon is among the purest of all ocean species.
- Unlike farmed salmon, Alaskan salmon grows free of antibiotics, pesticides, synthetic coloring agents, growth hormones and genetically modified organisms.
- For these reasons the EPA, FDA, and other organizations have found Alaskan salmon to be among the purest of seafood options, even recommending them to pregnant and nursing woman as a safe fatty fish source of vitally important nutrients.
- Vital Choice offers sushi-grade Alaskan salmon in a variety of types (king, sockeye, caviar, lox, etc.)
- In general, we recommend that women of child-bearing age, and especially women who are pregnant, should never eat tuna, period, because of the extraordinarily high amounts of mercury.
- The tuna at Vital Choice, however, has 1/4 the amount of mercury found in the tuna you normally see at the grocery store.
- Commercial fishing boats fishing for tuna will drag nets and hooks 10 miles behind the boat, and pull them in after 12 hours, resulting in fish that may not be fresh by the time it is landed. These lines are so deep that they tend to catch the larger, older tuna, the ones with more mercury and less Omega-3s.
- In contrast, the fishermen for Vital Choice use shallow, single-line hooks and catch one small tuna at a time. It is flash frozen within 2 hours, and tend to be smaller—with less mercury and more Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Vital Choice has an excellent website that we encourage you to look over. The company was founded by a fisherman from Washington state. To quote from their website, “We capture the fresh-caught quality of fine, sustainably harvested Alaska Salmon and other Alaska and northwest Pacific seafood and deliver it right to your door.” How great is that!
You can buy in bulk, store it in your freezer, and have easy access to fresh, high quality seafood year round.
Why Vital Choice
Vital Choice captures the fresh-caught quality of fine, sustainably harvested Alaska Salmon and other Alaska and northwest Pacific seafood and delivers it right to your door. And to further support lives of health and sustainability, Vital Choice offers selected Organic, Natural, and Kosher foods, picked for their superior nutritional and culinary qualities.
You’ll enjoy several advantages when you choose Vital Choice seafood:
- Certified Purity – By nature, their wild fish and shellfish are free of hazardous levels of contaminants. Few retailers seek – or are able to identify – the best wild Alaska Salmon, less than 1% of which meet strict Vital Choice standards.
- Top Quality – Vital Choice seafood will always be the very best quality available.
- Stellar Nutrition – In addition to ample protein, Vital Choice fish are rich in two vital nutrients scarce in modern diets: omega-3s and vitamin D.
- Sustainable Sustenance – All of their seafood comes from well-managed, sustainable wild fisheries, certified as such by the State of Alaska, the Marine Stewardship Council, and independent organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which advises consumers to avoid farmed Salmon.
Safe Fish Guide: Choose your state and download a handy Pocket Guide of the best and worse fish to eat (provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium)
To read the full EPA and FDA Bulletin on Mercury in Fish and their recommendations specifically for women who are pregnant or nursing and children.
Disclosure: We are an affiliate partner to Vital Choice, and if you click on one of our links and make a purchase, we will receive a small referral commission. Please know that we ONLY recommend products or services that we personally endorse and that we do truly believe in. We are customers of Vital Choice and personally LOVE their products and we would recommend them even if there was no affiliate program!