T Nation


I’m a fan of Dr Mercola’s site but am somewhat confused over his stance regarding eating fish. He claims that while it was once a perfect source of Omega 3’s etc, it is now best avoided due to pollution and mercury levels. He advocates avoiding all fish for these reasons. Do you think he is exaggerating or is there credence to what he claims? I generally eat sardines as my fish source since they are cheap, convenient, and supposedly lower in mercury than other seafood sources.

Been wondering that myself. I’ve been spending time over there reading back issues of his newsletter and a lot of what I read is either confusing or depressing. I mean, he suggests no fish, only grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, non-floruide toothpaste, no coffee… the list goes on and on.

I’m guessing that he suggests that fish be eaten sparingly, but that’s one of those words like “moderation” that is non-descriptive and means different things to different people. You’re on the right track with the sardines, but I only have my own interpretation of the fish thing… and it’s still not clear Sorry.

I’m not sure if you’d be able to e-mail him for an answer, but you might try it. He is obviously very intelligent and up on the current research on health issues, but he advocates a program that is not only very taxing, in terms of convenience, but one that is also very expensive (I’m still trying to find a local source of chicken and grass-fed beef around here… Patricia or Ko, do you happen to know any places here in Portland/Vancouver?). Going through his source is WAY too expensive to be able to do it consistently. Paying twenty-some dollars per pound is not at all feasible for me right now.


No he is not bullshitting. Do some searching and you’ll see that even the FDA (after years of avoidance of the issue) came out and recommended pregnant women limit their fish intake to something like 1/4 can of tuna per week. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Waitasecond…I just read some of his recent articles and while he SEVERELY limits the list of ‘safe’ fish (i.e., from relatively unpolluted waters), he doesn’t seem to say “NO fish ever.” Maybe I didn’t read everything (there’s a LOT on that site), or maybe there’s a new article?

I’ve done a fair amount of research on this, and there really isn’t a problem with mercury levels. The reason that pregnant women (and very young children) shouldn’t eat a large amount of tuna is that fetuses and young children have lower body weight, and are forming their vital organs (making them more susceptible to small amounts of poisoning). Saying ‘pregnant women shouldn’t eat much fish, therefore no one should’ is ridiculous. Pregnant women also can’t drink alcohol… because even a small amount can do damage to a developing fetus. That doesn’t mean that moderate consumption of alcohol will kill the rest of us. If you actually look for cases of mercury poisoning, you’ll find only a couple… and the only ones I’ve seen list the patient as having consumed the equivalent of 15-20 cans of tuna a day, for many months.

I believe him.

Mercola also states that the fishes higher in the food chain are a lot worst than smaller fishes, and therefore sardines would be a lot safer than something like tuna which is very high on the chain. Sardines are the only fish i’ll eat on a regular basis.

I believe he has since changed his stance on fish. See link here:

www.mercola.com/ 2002/jun/19/ mercury_fish.htm

However, most of what Dr. Mercola preaches, from my understanding, is in regards to the slow build-up of toxins in our systems from exposure to low levels of things like mercury, agricultural pesticides, etc. So, as you may not be able to find cases where someone has gotten all-out mercury poisoning from eating fish, the dangers are still there. There is a dire need for long-term, double-blind studies on all toxins we’re exposed to as we don’t know which are detrimental to our health over the long run. This may not be economically feasible or even practical, but the need is still there.


On the fish issue. Tuna is an offshore fish that is usually caught anywhere from 10-200 miles offshore. How would tuna suffer from pollution as bad as inshore fish. The water offshore is definitely less polluted than inshore waters. Another question, How are you supposed to know if you have mercury poisioning ? I’ve been eating fish since I was born and haven’t had any problems. I usually feel better when I eat fish.

On the grass fed cattle issue. How do you know that these cattle don’t ingest pollution some how. What about fertilizer for the grass and the other pollutions found in the cities around where these cows are raised. It doesn’t seem much different than fish to me. Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with grass fed cattle now. If we were to remove everything we eat that might be somewhat bad than we would not have much to eat. This is just my opinion but it seems that peope worry too much about little things.

Jason, sorry to say this but for your level of knowledge on these matters you’re speaking a bit too loud.

On the cattle issue, it’s not at all related with polution but to the completely diferent EFA’s profile in the meat of grass fed cattle comparing to ordinary cattle. Cows would be a great source of Omega 3 if they weren’t fed fed the shit they feed it.

On the fish issue, mercury poisoning is something that hardly will go unnoticed, but can you say that permanent high levels of mercury like those found on people that eat tuna on a regular basis aren’t dangerous to your health in any way? Do you trust the almighty FDA to inform you on this? Do you follow the food pyramid?

The fact that tuna lives offshore means nothing, the USA alone dumps 40 tons of mercury a year on the sea and this gets passed on trough the food chain as i mentioned before. eat all the tuna you want, but your arguments are hardly convincing to me.

JasonL -

What are we supposed to eat? A good question. In my first post I commented on how difficult and very expensive it can be to eat right. However, we’re discussing the fact that mercury levels are very high in larger fish and that gets passed on to us whether we want to believe it or not. As for how tuna gets so polluted, you can find a general explanation here:

www.mercola.com/2001/apr/ 25/mercury_fish.htm

Generally, the food chain dictates that the bigger fish are going to have higher levels of mercury. If you’re concerned about poisoning, you can get tested for mercury levels by your doc.

As for the grass-fed beef issue, I don’t doubt at all that all life today is exposed to some type of toxic chemicals. But it has been proven that grass-fed beef have higher levels of omega-3s and lower levels of omega-6s… much like wild game. And that’s pretty much irrefutable.

Mercola’s whole thing is that we are all being systematically poisoned by these very large companies who seem to have their hands in every part of the business: pesticide companies also have pharmaceutical divisions, etc. He wants the public to know what’s going on, as public awareness is the only thing that’s going to drive this into the spotlight. As I said before, I don’t necessarily believe everything he comments on, but I certainly think much of it is very eye-opening.


Mercury is a serious issue (especially if you’re sushi junkie), there is list of safer fish on his list.Smaller fish are your best bet. Grass fed beef link from his site is not too bad price wise. $5,30/lb for ground beef and around $7.50/lb for medium cuts + free shipping on orders over $100. You can do a search for grass fed beef on google and find a farm near you that might be cheaper. I just got 50.lb today.

To all the doubters: Lets set aside Mercola’s perspective for a second and ask ourselves a question:
If huge companies dump tons of toxins into our environment, is it logical to assume that those toxins have no affect on us through any chain of ingestion/consumption patterns?
Just as you wouldn’t want to just have sex with someone whose “had a lot of partners… couple of em had STDs… I’m not sure if I do…” I wouldn’t want people fucking around with my food sources by poisoning the places they come (and feed) from.

I would love to be able to eat nothing but grass fed beef, free range chicken and organic fruits and vegetables. I think it would be quite easy to stick to this diet. That is, of course, if I was independently wealthy.

I did a little checking around, because I was wondering about the incicence of mercury poisoning in Japan. It turns out that there is a high incidence in one part of the country, Kyshu. It is not however related to the consumption of seafood (that is not from fish caught off shore) it is from a terrible industrial accident. There are only two types of fish that contain hgih amounts of mercury, and that is swordfish, and tuna. As jason mentioned these fish are caught far from polluted waters, therefore the source of the mecury is naturally occurring (almost all living organisms have trace amounts of mercury). Tests have been done on fish caught in the late 1800s, and they have the same levels of mercury that fish caught today have. Amoung the papers I have read, there is only one documented case of mercury poisoning from fish here in the US. A woman contracted it while on a fad diet that had her eating 12oz of swordfish a day. She had been on this diet for 10 monthes. I personally think that the whole mercury poisioning thing is blown out of proportion. People just need to learn eat a wide variety of foods. Doing so ensures that you are not eating too much of the “bad” foods (fish, soy, beef, etc). In other words, if you like Ahi tuna, eat it, but don’t eat it everyday for a year. A varied diet, is a healthy diet.

random, good to see you about, when are you going to grace us with your presence over at AE?, the board has been fixed up and most of the charactor is back.

and on the fish debate…damn, i eat tuna for just about everymeal…dunno where new zealand gets its tuna from, probably from china and we export our tuna elsewhere.

might have to look into this

So only tuna and swordfish are high in mercury? I know at SWIS Udo said that is the main reason he doesn’t like tuna anymore. So I’m guessing Salmon is safer? Where did you find all this info? :slight_smile:

I didn’t want to sound like I was an expert or anything, but I have read a lot of literature on fish and it seems as long as you don’t eat too much then you should be alright. As for fish, My parents have owned a seafood business since I was born (now 23) and specilize in buying and selling Tuna and other offshore fish. We also import tuna from all over the world and sometime export it. So if anything comes out even remotely bad about seafood we hear about it.

I also wanted to say that I am aware of grass fed cows good omega 3 profile. I was trying to make a point that it is pretty hard to get away from pollution no matter where the food comes from.

Dr. Mercola also says that without even asking a person how much or if they consume fish he can tell from the amount of mercury contained in a hair sample how much fish they consume. I’d be interested in seeing how much mercury a typical bodybuilder who consumes a minimum of 1 can of tuna per day for years has.

Eluga, I was just reading some of his recent articles and he was pretty adamant about avoiding eating fish in general Some quotes from his recent articles I found - (“It is my strong recommendation to AVOID EATING FISH!” and “Some fish have less mercury then others, but it has been my experience that nearly all fish are contaminated with mercury.” and “So it is my strong recommendation to stop eating all fish now. Folks, listen to me carefully on this one.”
I haven’t been able to find anywhere in which he specifies which ones might be ok, but he simply recommends fish oil instead.

Hi again Lazyeye. I’m pretty strapped for time these days, so I don’t get to cruise the boards as much as I used to. I think that this board has the best to offer in regards to discussion, knowledge, and experience. AE is nice, but it has become pretty juvenile lately. Take it easy mate -and good luck with your studies!