Momentum in the Mountains 2024


Mercury Is NOT an Issue When Eating Salmon

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/25/2024

You've heard the rumors, the whispers of danger lurking in every delicious bite of salmon. But is it really true? Is this nutrient-packed fish secretly plotting to sabotage your health with mercury? I'm here to set the record straight and give you the facts about salmon and mercury.

The truth is, while salmon does contain some mercury, it's not the villain it's often made out to be. In fact, with a little knowledge and some smart choices, you can safely enjoy this tasty and nutritious fish without worry. So, let's dive in and explore the world of salmon and mercury!

Understanding Mercury in Salmon

When it comes to the safety of eating salmon, one of the main concerns is the mercury content. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in fish, including salmon. But is salmon safe to eat despite mercury?

To answer this question, it's important to understand the levels of mercury in different types of salmon and what constitutes safe consumption levels.

Mercury Levels in Wild vs. Farmed Salmon

The mercury content in salmon can vary depending on whether it's wild-caught or farmed. According to a study by the Environmental Defense Fund, farmed salmon generally has lower levels of mercury compared to wild salmon.

In fact, farm-fed fish has been found to have three times less mercury than wild-caught fish. This is likely due to the controlled diet and environment in which farmed salmon are raised.

Safe Consumption Levels

While wild-caught salmon may have higher mercury levels than farmed salmon, it's important to note that even wild salmon typically has lower levels of mercury than the danger threshold.

The FDA recommends consuming no more than 12 ounces (340 grams) of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, per week. This equates to about two to three servings of salmon per week, which is considered safe for most individuals.

The Role of Selenium in Counteracting Mercury

When assessing the safety of eating salmon, it's crucial to consider not just the mercury content but also the presence of selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral that plays a vital role in protecting the body from the harmful effects of mercury.

Brazil nuts selenium

Selenium-Dependent Enzymes

Selenium works by binding to mercury and forming a complex that prevents the mercury from causing damage to the body. This process is facilitated by selenium-dependent enzymes, which help to neutralize the toxic effects of mercury.

These enzymes are particularly important in safeguarding the brain and nervous system from mercury toxicity. By supporting the function of these enzymes, selenium helps to mitigate the potential risks associated with mercury exposure from eating salmon.

Benefits of Selenium-Rich Diets

In addition to its protective role against mercury, selenium offers a range of health benefits. Selenium is essential for proper thyroid function, immune system support, and antioxidant defense.

Consuming selenium-rich foods, such as salmon, can help ensure adequate intake of this important nutrient. In fact, studies have shown that populations with higher dietary selenium intake tend to have lower rates of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Health Benefits of Eating Salmon

Despite the presence of mercury, salmon remains a highly nutritious food that offers numerous health benefits. The rich content of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals in salmon makes it a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

Heart Health

One of the most well-known benefits of eating salmon is its positive impact on heart health. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon, particularly EPA and DHA, have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Regular consumption of salmon as part of a proper diet can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and improve overall cardiovascular function.

Mental Health

Salmon's omega-3 content also has implications for mental health and cognitive function. Omega-3s are essential for brain development and play a role in regulating mood and reducing the risk of certain mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Incorporating salmon into your diet may support brain health, improve memory and concentration, and promote overall mental well-being.

Eye Health

The nutrients found in salmon, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A, are important for maintaining healthy vision. These nutrients help protect against age-related vision loss and reduce the risk of conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Eating salmon regularly as part of a balanced diet can support eye health and contribute to the prevention of vision problems later in life.

Recommendations for Safe Fish Consumption

While salmon can be a healthy addition to your diet, it's important to follow certain guidelines to minimize the risk of mercury exposure and ensure safe consumption.

Frequency of Consumption

As mentioned earlier, the FDA recommends limiting the consumption of low-mercury fish, including salmon, to 12 ounces (340 grams) per week for most individuals. This equates to about two to three servings of salmon per week.

However, certain populations, such as pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children, may need to further limit their fish intake. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional or refer to local advisories for specific guidance.

Choosing Between Wild and Farmed Salmon

When selecting salmon, both wild and farmed options can be safe and nutritious choices. However, there are some factors to consider when deciding between the two.

Wild salmon, particularly from well-managed fisheries like those in Alaska, is generally considered a sustainable and environmentally-friendly option. It also tends to have a more diverse diet, which can influence its nutrient profile.

Farmed salmon, on the other hand, is more readily available and often more affordable. Many farmed salmon producers have implemented responsible practices to minimize environmental impact and ensure the health of the fish.

Ultimately, the choice between wild and farmed salmon may come down to personal preference, availability, and sustainability considerations.

Addressing Public Concerns About Mercury in Salmon

Despite the evidence supporting the safety of consuming salmon in moderation, there are still public concerns and misconceptions surrounding the mercury content in this popular fish.

Misconceptions About Mercury Toxicity

One common misconception is that all fish, including salmon, are high in mercury and should be avoided altogether. However, as we've discussed, salmon generally has lower levels of mercury compared to other fish species.

Another misconception is that the mercury in salmon poses a significant health risk to everyone. While mercury exposure can be harmful, the levels found in salmon are typically well below the danger threshold for most individuals.

Expert Opinions and Research Findings

Numerous studies and expert opinions support the safety and benefits of including salmon in a balanced diet. Organizations such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund recommend salmon as a low-mercury, sustainable seafood choice.

In fact, the benefits of consuming omega-3-rich fish like salmon are considered to outweigh the potential risks associated with mercury exposure for most people.

It's important to rely on credible sources and scientific research when making decisions about seafood consumption. Consulting with healthcare professionals and staying informed about local fish advisories can help ensure that you're making safe and healthy choices.

So, is salmon safe to eat despite mercury? The answer is yes, when consumed in moderation as part of a proper diet.

By understanding the mercury levels in salmon, the role of selenium in counteracting mercury toxicity, and the numerous health benefits of this nutritious fish, you can confidently include salmon in your meals while minimizing any potential risks.


So, is salmon safe to eat despite mercury? The answer is a resounding yes! By choosing the right types of salmon and consuming it in moderation, you can reap the incredible health benefits of this superfood without any mercury-related worries.

Remember, wild-caught salmon generally has lower mercury levels than farmed varieties, and selenium in salmon helps counteract mercury's effects.

Plus, the heart-healthy omega-3s, brain-boosting nutrients, and eye-protecting compounds in salmon make it a powerhouse of nutrition.

Enjoy your delicious salmon fillet with the assurance that it benefits your body significantly. With some informed choices and knowledge, you can confidently incorporate salmon into your healthy diet regularly. For a tasty and nutritious option, try a keto salmon recipe. Bon appétit!

Supporting Data



Healthy Keto Guide for Beginner

FREE Keto Diet Plan