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Fishy Seafood?

Posted: October 8, 2018
By: Dr. Drew Rubin and Dan Traxler

Fish are loaded with healthy fats, known as omega-3 fats, that are essential for our health. Fats play many roles in our bodies, and scientists are continuing to discover how important healthy fats are in our everyday lives. A big reason why fats are important is that our brains are more than half fat (1). Our nerves that run throughout our body are covered in a fatty layer known as myelin that helps them conduct information quickly and easily. In addition, omega 3’s have been proven to help protect against type 2 diabetes (5), inflammation, autoimmune disease (3), and depression (4). A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that it is especially important for pregnant women to get their servings of omega 3 fats from fish as this helps fetal brain development (5).


Many of the problems that the seafood lovers face today is that some fish can contain alarmingly high levels of toxins, including mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin that has shown to be damaging to the human nervous system, and is a byproduct of coal-burning power plants. The mercury finds its way into our rivers, lakes, and oceans and eventually makes its way into the tissues of the fish living in them. It is very important to find clean sources of fish in order to limit the amount of mercury in your body, and therefore prevent any damage to your health (6). Here is a list of the ten types of seafood lowest in mercury levels, as reported by the FDA (7):

  1. Scallops

  2. Canned salmon

  3. Clams

  4. Shrimp

  5. Oysters

  6. Sardines

  7. Tilapia

  8. Anchovies

  9. Wild salmon

  10. Squid

Here is a list of the ten types of seafood highest in mercury levels, also as reported by the FDA:

  1. Tilefish

  2. Swordfish

  3. Shark

  4. King mackerel

  5. Bigeye tuna

  6. Orange roughy

  7. Marlin

  8. Spanish mackerel

  9. Grouper

  10. Tuna

A good rule of thumb to follow is that the smaller the fish, the less mercury it is able to absorb, and the safer it is to eat. The larger the fish, the higher up on the food chain it is and therefore the more mercury it is ingesting.

How does this apply to me?

If you are following our RFC blog, you are well aware that we see a lot of pregnant moms and kids in the office. You are also aware that our office is a nervous system based office that works on the spine and the nervous system. For the pregnant moms, it is important to eat seafood for your babies development, however it is even more essential to find seafood's low in levels of mercury and other contaminants. Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, recommends eating small fish high in omega 3 fats such as sardines, herring, anchovies, and wild caught salmon two or three servings per week. He also recommends the website to find fish that are ethically raised, no antibiotics or hormones used, and low in mercury while sustainably fished or farmed (8).  Dr. Rubin cautions against eating shellfish during pregnancy, since they are known to cause potential allergic reactions.  

Getting your spine and nervous system checked at RFC is another great way to help your nervous system develop and function properly. So whether you’re making healthy seafood a piece of your diet or not, getting checked by your chiropractor will help ensure that your digestive system is working properly, and that you and your child are functioning at your best so that you can continue living your best life!


  1. Innis SM. Dietary omega 3 fatty acids and the developing brain. Brain Res. 2008 Oct 27; 1237:35-43.

  2. Nkondjock A, Receveur O. Fish-seafood consumption, obesity, and type 2 diabetes: an ecological study. Diabetes Metab. 2003 Dec;29(6):635-42.

  3. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(6):495-505.

  4. Li Fu, Liu X, Zhang D. Fish consumption and risk of depression: a meta-analysis. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2016;70:299-304.

  5. Oken E, Radesky JS, Wright RO, et al. Maternal fish intake during pregnancy, blood mercury levels, and child cognition at 3 years in a US cohort. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 May 15;167(10):1171-81.

  6. Guallar E, Sanz-Gallardo MI, van’t Veer P, et al. Mercury, fish oils, and the risk of myocardial infarction. N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 28;347(22):8622-29.

  7. Food and Drug Administration. Mercury levels in commercial fish and shellfish (1990-2010). October 5 2018.

  8. Hyman, M. (2018). Food. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, pp.94-110.

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