A few years ago I learned some exciting news. My beloved canned tuna, which had long been vilified for its mercury content, might actually be completely safe. Of course, many seafood options contain mercury, but tuna gets the most attention because its levels are among the highest and it is so commonly consumed.
The research I found explained that selenium binds to mercury, rendering it inactive and easily disposed of. And wouldn’t you know it, almost every type of seafood contains significantly more selenium than mercury.
So this meant that the most dangerous part of a can of tuna is the can itself. No, not the jagged edges of the removed top, but the aluminum from the can that leeches into the fish.
The information I found is correct – selenium is a protector from mercury toxicity. However, recent research has shown me why the “tuna triumph” might be a little premature. And it’s an issue that applies to many micronutrients in our diet, considering the deterioration of food quality in our modern world.
Selenium is considered an essential mineral. It plays a vital role in antioxidant activities, as it is a component of glutathione (our body’s most powerful antioxidant). It supports DNA repair, helps prevent heart disease and asthma symptoms, reduces inflammation, and enhances immune function.
Most notably, selenium is needed to make thyroid hormone (T4) AND it is needed to convert that into its bioavailable form (T3). You may not be familiar with everything the thyroid gland does, but just know that it concerns you if you’re interested in any of the following:
Managing blood sugar
Improving testosterone levels
Maintaining neurotransmitter function
Now you’re wondering how does this all affect our tuna turmoil?
So many people use up their selenium pool getting rid of intoxicants, because of the toxic world we live in. With all its other jobs, you may not be left with enough of the mineral to clear the mercury from your seafood. This leads us to a solution not only for tuna, toxins, and thyroid, but for almost any aspect of OPTIMAL health…
Before we open a whole new can of worms, just know that even the Journal of the American Medical Association has published that “most people do not consume an optimal amount of vitamins by diet alone.”1 We may get enough to stay alive, but modern food and soil quality, malabsorption, and nutrient deficiencies prevent us from OPTIMAL health.
For these reasons, plus considering the extra stresses on the body from environmental pollutants, I recommend at least a quality high-potency multivitamin and mineral supplement to all my clients. And yes, there absolutely are major differences in quality from brand to brand. If you’re wondering which ones are better, and why, send me your questions and I’d be happy to answer.
And for those of you on the edge of your seat, waiting hear about the final word on selenium… the recommended dosage is about 200 mcg per day. Nutrient-dense sources include: butter, apple cider vinegar, scallops, and red swiss chard.
Personally, while I do eat these selenium-rich foods and take it in supplement form, I will still be keeping my beloved tuna to moderate amounts. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be optimal.
*I’d also recommend keeping your intake of Pilot Whale to a minimum.
1. Fairfield, Kathleen M., Fletcher, Robert H., The Journal of the American Medical Association, June 2002