How much fish do you want to eat?

How much fish is safe to eat is a question that is on the minds of many people, both people who are interested in eating fish for its Omega 3 content as well as people who just like eating fish.

It would seem a silly question really. How much fish should I eat? As much as you want. After all isn’t fish good for you? Doesn’t it contain all those good Omega 3 essential fatty acids?

Unfortunately despite the fact that fish does contain all those healthy Omega 3 fats, there is also a potential downside from eating fish.

The potential downside is that some fish is contaminated with Mercury and PCBs and other industrial toxins.How much fish should I eat

But should this stop you eating fish? Are the health benefits of eating fish, particularly the health benefits of all those good Omega 3 fats, outweighed by the health risks of eating contaminated fish?

In other words how much fish is safe to eat?

It’s extremely difficult to know how much fish to eat. Obviously it will vary enormously depending on a whole range of different factors.

What type of fish you eat, how often you eat it, where it comes from and much more should all be factored into the equation. It’s a question without a definite answer.

We have recently come across an excellent website called How Much Fish. On the website you can input various factors such as your weight and how much fish you eat in a serving, select your favourite fish or seafood and the site will give you a whole stack of useful information, including how much Omega 3 a serving will provide, how much you will get of other nutrients, and how much you would have to eat before you were at risk from any contamination.

For instance I selected a weight of 140 lbs, indicated that I would eat 3 ounces of fish in a serving, and selected Pacific Jack Mackerel as my fish of choice. The result tells me that I will be getting 1.57 grams of Omega 3 which is 314% of my daily requirements.

And it also tells me that unless I eat more than 178 ounces of Jack Mackerel I don’t need to be worried about Mercury contamination.

Of course all these things are a little fluid, there’s really no way to specify these details 100% accurately, however this is probably the best way that we’ve seen to find out more about how much you should eat of various fish.

None of this will be strictly accurate for a number of reasons. For instance the website specifies that 3 ounces of Pacific Jack Mackerel would provide 314% of my daily requirements for Omega 3, or what the website called “daily need”.

As there are no generally recognized dosage requirements for Omega 3, and no universally recognized recommended daily intake figures, this is a little uncertain, but probably as accurate as anything. (So the website uses the RDI from the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids figure of 500 mg of Omega 3 per day.)

And we have also seen various disagreements about the amount of Omega 3 in some types of fish as well, so that may not be 100% accurate.

The overall message seems to be however that whilst it is true that there are concerns about toxic contamination of fish, you would need to eat quite a lot before you should really be worried. The calculations on the website, it says, are based on the mercury standards from the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. 

Note however that this is slightly different if you’re pregnant, and the website does give specific advice to pregnant women, as well as recognizing the importance of eating fish for pregnant women as well.

So if you’re asking yourself how much fish to eat, or how much fish is safe, head over to How Much Fish and see what they say about the particular fish you’re thinking of eating tonight.

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