Advantages and disadvantages of eating fish and seafood
Part 1 : Mercury and methylmercury in fish
The Superior Health Council is currently revising its 2004 advisory report no. 7617 “Fish and Health". This first part of the revised document, which was written jointly with the Scientific Committee set up at the FASFC, examines the risks associated with exposure to mercury and methylmercury by eating fish. Other contaminants will also be considered in the risk assessment in a subsequent part of the document. This will allow for more detailed recommendations to be made.
The general recommendation for the Belgian adult population currently remains to eat fish, seafood and shellfish once or twice a week, including oily fish at least once. Fish and seafood are valuable sources of essential nutrients, such as protein, polyunsaturated fatty acids, iodine, selenium and vitamin D. They are an interesting alternative to meat and meat products. Regular consumption (once or twice a week) has a positive impact on health and entails no risk in terms of mercury exposure. Yet the species and origin of the fish consumed should vary from one week to another to keep exposure to mercury to a minimum.
The same recommendation also applies to children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Because of their increased sensitivity to the risks linked to methylmercury, they should limit their tuna consumption and avoid swordfish. Preference should be given to other species such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, halibut, mussels, trout and cod.