Is King Salmon High In Mercury?

Several factors, including a fish’s species and place of origin, can affect how much mercury it contains. Popular seafood choices include bluefin tuna, walleye, king mackerel, tilefish, snapper, albacore, and a long list of others are among the high-mercury fish. Parts per million (ppm) are used to quantify mercury levels in fish, with some of the worst offenders—like swordfish and sharks—having mercury levels of more than 0.9 ppm.

A seafood selector tool developed by The Environmental Defense Fund aids consumers in selecting seafood wisely based on elements like mercury concentration. Where on that list does salmon fall?

Salmon is one of the cleanest fish to eat, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, because it is regarded as having a low mercury content overall. Salmon is the only common seafood that contains less mercury than anchovies, sardines, oysters, scallops, and shrimp.

The mercury content of salmon is about 0.022 ppm, which is far lower than the high mercury content of swordfish and shark.

But in addition to ranking fish based on their mercury content, the Environmental Defense Fund also rates fish based on how much Omega-3s they contain and how environmentally friendly they are. The best salmon to eat is wild salmon from Alaska, which is at the top of the list.

Consumption Guidelines for Salmon

Salmon is recognized as a low-mercury fish by the EPA and the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA. However, the current advice is to limit your weekly intake of low-mercury fish to no more than 12 ounces. Fish raised on farms and in the wild are treated equally. Salmon from farms and wild sources can be combined, according to a 2008 study that was published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The study concluded that salmon is a safe source of omega-3 fatty acids because there were barely detectable changes in the mercury content between the two sources of salmon from British Columbia. Undoubtedly, following FDA recommendations and keeping an eye out for local fish advisories are the best ways to consume wild salmon safely.

What exactly is inside your salmon? These researchers discovered

People appreciate salmon because of its variety of nutritional advantages. However, because nutritional information is not required to be displayed on seafood packaging in North America, buying Canadian salmon with high nutritional value and low levels of pollutants can be a gamble.

At Dalhousie University, Stephanie Colombo is an assistant professor of aquaculture. Her findings offer a comparable baseline for subsequent research because no study of this kind on Canadian salmon has ever been conducted previously.

In order to assess the nutritional content of six different varieties of salmon fillets sold in Canadian grocery stores, Colombo’s team bought them. They examined farmed Atlantic, farmed organic Atlantic, farmed organic Chinook, wild Pacific pink, and wild Sockeye. They also examined farmed wild Chinook. Many people mistakenly believe that farmed salmon is less nutrient-dense and contains more pollutants than wild salmon when deciding between the two types of salmon. To ascertain whether these beliefs are accurate, the researchers examined the salmon’s protein, lipid, fatty acid, and mercury concentrations.

Surprisingly, the study discovered that, as a result of their various diets, the species of salmon from which the fillets were sourced had a significant impact on their protein, fat, and mercury levels. They also discovered that characteristics like wild or farmed, organic or non-organic, did not significantly affect the levels of mercury in the salmon that were subjected to testing.

The wild Sockeye and Chinook fillets exhibited the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids and were the most nutrient-dense. However, the study recommended farmed Atlantic salmon as an inexpensive, nutrient-dense, low-mercury substitute for Sockeye or Chinook for regular consumers as opposed to these fish. Future studies should compare the nutritional value of salmon raised in farms on sustainable plant-based diets to those fed on more conventional fish-based diets.

Choose seafood wisely to reduce your consumption of mercury.

Lean protein is easily obtained from fish and shellfish, and many varieties are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart. But there’s a catch: certain fish species have alarmingly high levels of methylmercury, a toxin that’s particularly harmful to growing brains. For this reason, high-mercury seafood like swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish shouldn’t be eaten by pregnant women or those who may become pregnant, as well as by small children. According to a recent study, consuming too much or the incorrect type of salmon and tuna may also increase mercury levels.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eight ounces of seafood should be consumed each week (12 ounces a week for women who are pregnant). That would provide adequate omega-3 fatty acids to support heart health and promote the growth of the brain and nerves. However, eight ounces is more than twice as much fish as the typical American consumes in a week.

The new study, which was released in the May issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, provides information on the frequency and types of seafood consumed by Americans and their impact on blood levels of mercury. 10,673 adults from throughout the country were surveyed as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to see how much fish they had consumed the previous month. The most preferred option was shrimp (46%), followed by salmon (27%), tuna (34%), and. Only 2% of people admitted to eating mercury-rich fish.

The majority of individuals (95%) had blood mercury levels below the recommended limit of 5.8 micrograms per liter (mg/L). It should come as no surprise that people’s blood mercury levels increased with the amount of fish they consumed. The majority of those who consumed swordfish, shark, and other fish high in mercury were found to have blood mercury levels exceeding 5.8 mg/L. However, some people who solely consumed salmon or tuna had elevated mercury levels.

According to Dr. Emily Oken, an associate professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School who has investigated pregnant women’s fish diet, having a blood mercury level of 5.8 mg/L isn’t always dangerous for an adult. Because fish is the primary source of mercury and fish contains nutrients that are good for the brain and heart, two organs that mercury may affect, she argues that it is difficult to isolate the toxic effects of mercury.

A wise, secure, and sustainable seafood option is farmed salmon.

  • Mercury levels in salmon are minimal. In comparison to most other fish species, Atlantic salmon, both wild and farmed, has substantially lower mercury levels. The average amount of mercury in a gram of farmed salmon is 0.05 micrograms. The FDA and EPA, which produce the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans, have determined that these amounts are substantially below what is considered safe for women and children (DGA).
  • It is suggested as a seafood dish of “top choice.” Salmon is one of the top seafood options for a safe and healthy diet, especially for women who are or may become pregnant, nursing moms, and small children, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Salmon is among the low-mercury seafood that the FDA and DGA advise consistently eating two to three servings a week.
  • The beneficial omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are abundant in salmon. Farmed Atlantic salmon is one of the greatest options for having a high EPA and DHA to low mercury ratio because it has more than 15 grams of EPA and DHA per gram and 0.05 micrograms of mercury per gram, according to a joint FAO and WHO assessment.

Farmed Atlantic salmon has less than 0.05 micrograms of mercury per gram and more than 15 grams of EPA/DHA per gram.

  • In addition to its health advantages, farmed salmon is a nutrient-rich food that is kind to the environment. Salmon raised on farms has a lower carbon footprint than other sources of protein, requires less space, and makes better use of feed resources.

In conclusion, you can rest well knowing that eating seafood twice a week has many nutritious advantages and surpasses any potential mercury hazards.

In order to raise farmed salmon that is better for people and the environment, GSI members must make sure that the fish they raise are safe, healthy, and low in mercury.

Mercaptan-Less Alternatives

  • Shrimp Astaxanthin, a carotenoid that supports your nervous and musculoskeletal systems, is abundant in this shellfish. In addition, selenium, vitamin B12, copper, and omega-3 fatty acids are all abundant in shrimp. The mercury load is only 0.009 ppm on average, with higher readings of 0.05 ppm.
  • Salmon Although salmon from farms contains omega-3s, wild salmon is a better source of these beneficial fatty acids for the heart and brain. Salmon can contain up to 0.086 ppm of mercury and has an average mercury load of 0.014 ppm.
  • Several essential elements, including vitamin D, selenium, copper, iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12, are abundant in oysters. They have just 0.012 ppm of mercury on average, with 0.25 ppm being the highest reading.
  • Scallops Another form of seafood that is nutrient-dense is scallops, which contains selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12. In addition, they are a good source of protein, phosphate, and iodine. One of the species with the least mercury is the scallop, which has average mercury concentrations of 0.003 ppm and higher concentrations of 0.033 ppm.


The steely gray-blue chinook, often known as the king salmon, is born in freshwater streams and marine inlets. It then migrates to the sea, where it spends the most of its life before returning upstream to its origin, where it spawns and dies. The fish’s flanks turn a vivid red when it is spawning. Chinook salmon have a maximum length of around 5 feet (1.5 meters).

How to Eat As Much Fish as You Want Without Risking Mercury Ingestion

— — One of the most perplexing subjects for health-conscious diners is fish. On the one hand, eating fish has been associated with lower incidence of a number of diseases, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Fish is also a fantastic source of protein and healthy fat. However, some varieties contain high levels of mercury or other contaminants. We tend to get advice to eat more fish one day and less fish the next.

We recently received two further reasons from the news to reconsider eating it altogether: First, a study suggested a connection between mercury and female autoimmune diseases. The mercury contamination of yellowfin tuna, popularly known as ahi, is increasing far more quickly than was previously believed, according to a prior analysis. What should we do as a result?

Maintain it on the menu, but approach it wisely. All in all: “As a general rule, seafood should be mixed up. Eat it 2 to 3 times per week, but no more than 2 to 3 times per month of the same sort, “Dr. Gourmet’s editor and internist Timothy Harlan adds.

With so many options, you wouldn’t have to eat the same sort of seafood twice in a month. For example, you could eat shrimp, crab, salmon, scallops, cod, trout, mussels, catfish, tuna, or halibut.

This is a useful tactic because the quantities of mercury in various ocean foods fluctuate. Therefore, even though halibut, for example, is classified as having “moderate” mercury levels by the National Resources Defense Council, eating it the same week as a fish that has low mercury levels (such as wild salmon) can help you limit your exposure to the heavy metal.

By spreading out your intake of higher mercury fish, you give your body a time to get rid of it before unsafe levels arise. The NRDC list of fish high in mercury is something you should print or save so you always have it with you.

The most challenging aspect of mercury is that there are so many variables that can affect how dangerous it is, including the sort of seafood you consume, where it originated from, when you eat it, other types of seafood you eat, as well as your body weight. Because of this, it’s not a terrible idea to use the NRDC’s mercury calculator to plan your meals if you consume a lot of seafood.

Another choice is to download the free Seafood Watch app from the iTunes or Google Play stores, which offers the most recent advice directly from your smartphone. When choosing what to order at a restaurant or while shopping, you can look up various sorts of seafood. The app contains a customized sushi guide that decodes the Japanese names for various sorts of fish and tells you what is the “Best Choice,” “Good Alternative,” or if you should “Avoid.”

Last but not least, you can restrict your selections by only consuming foods from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Super Green List, as advised by Cynthia Sass, RD, a contributing nutrition editor for Health. The five options on this list—Atlantic mackerel, some varieties of salmon (freshwater coho farmed salmon and wild-caught salmon from Alaska) and Pacific sardines—are ensured to provide 250 milligrams of heart- and brain-healthy omega-3s without alarming mercury levels.