Tuna mercury poisoning is real. Too much tuna can cause Mercury Poisoning that will make you lose balance, leads to chest pains and also can kill you!
Tuna giving mercury poisoning.
Hoax or Fact:
The message warns people of eating too much Tuna fish, that it will cause mercury poisoning and lead to health complications like losing balance, chest pain and even death in long-term. Yes, it is a fact that certain types of Tuna fish are associated with risks of mercury poisoning, but not all of them, in moderate consumption are a deadly concern.
Mercury Poisoning, also called Mercurialism or Hydrargyria is a disease that happens when exposed to mercury or its compounds. It is a known fact that Mercury is a heavy metal that occurs in various forms, all of which can produce toxic effects in high enough doses. The toxic effects of mercury poisoning include damage to the brain, kidney, and lungs. General symptoms of the disease include itching and burning pain, skin discoloration and shedding, swelling, sensory impairment (vision, hearing, speech) and lack of coordination. Exposure to large doses of toxic mercuric compounds like Mercuric cyanide at one time can lead to sudden death as well.
Mercury Poisoning through Fish
The mercury compound that concerns poisoning through Fish is Methylmercury, which is in fact the major source of organic mercury for all individuals. Mercury is released into the environment as a pollutant from factories and other industrial settings, which ends up in streams and oceans, where bacteria present in the water turn it into methylmercury. This bio-accumulation of methylmercury develops into high concentrations among some species like fish and then reaches humans.
Fishes absorb this mercury into their bodies from the polluted waters, the larger the fish, more is the risk. This is also because larger fish eat smaller mercury-containing fish. Because of this health concern, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recommended people to avoid consuming large fish like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
Mercury concerns about Tuna Fish
The two most common types of Tuna fish that come in canned form are Albacore (white) Tuna and Skipjack (light) Tuna. Light tuna is smaller in size and contains significantly less mercury than white tuna. Therefore, EPA recommends that it is safe to eat up to 12 ounces of light tuna per week, or 6 ounces of white tuna per week.
It is to be noted that Canned Albacore Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna and Bigeye Tuna (Ahi) fishes have higher levels of mercury and must be avoided. To know mercury levels in other types of fish and their safety of consumption, please refer to the Natural Resources Defense Council guide here.
It is also important to note that most of the warnings pertaining to mercury poisoning are targeted to young children and pregnant women. This is because exposure to mercury during the development stage can cause mental retardation or physical disabilities.