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Ask Dr. Gourmet

If mercury in fish is linked to Alzheimer's disease, how much fish should I eat?

I heard on the news that eating fish (because of the mercury in it) is now proven to be a link to Alzheimer's disease. They didn't specify how much or how many times [the people affected] eat it per week. I am thinking they would mean what the average person might eat: 2-3 times a week. The other days we usually eat other meats. Have you any opinions on this factor.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Roasting Salmon

I have always taken the issue of mercury in fish very seriously.

It is quite clear that excess intake of mercury in humans leads to many health conditions. This includes short term health effects, such as fatigue, irritability, and short term memory loss. Long term effects have also been well established and include the short term effects as well as muscle and nerve problems, mood and behavioral disorders, kidney, heart, liver, and digestive problems.

Many fish have been contaminated with mercury. The key is to be moderate in your consumption, having fish two or three times a week and not eating one variety too often. It does appear that the benefit of fish consumption outweighs the risk, but you do need to choose carefully, selecting fish that is lower in mercury. Here's more information: One Fish, Two Fish, Mercury in Your Fish.

I do eat fish and I eat a wide variety, trying to not repeat a particular fish more than once in a given month. I also avoid those fish that are very high in mercury.

For more information here's a sample of research on short term memory loss and mercury:

This is the abstract of Dr. Mutter's article:

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet