Mrs Chioma Mmiriukwu, a registered Dietician in Abuja, said large amount of mercury in seafood could jeopardise the brain development of foetus and infants.
Mmiriukwu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday that sea foods were healthy for humans but could also pose some challenges to the body.
“Seafood contains methyl mercury which is a heavy metal readily absorbed and contaminates the waters which makes it potentially toxic.
“The mercury can result from volcanoes, the weathering of soils and rocks, coal-fired power plants, mining and various industrial processes which is converted to aquatic microorganisms and to methyl mercury,’’ Mmiriukwu said.
The dietician said that sea foods such as fish and prawns were the major source of mercury in humans, adding that it was toxic to the developing nervous system of the foetus and infant.
She said that the mercury present in a pregnant woman could endanger the developmental process of a foetus.
“Mercury can affect the developing nervous system, pregnant and nursing mothers exposed to large amounts of mercury could jeopardise the brain development of the foetus and infant,’’ Mmiriukwu said.
She said regular consumption of fish could reduce the risk of various diseases and disorders, adding that eating it thrice a week was the best way to minimise the mercury.
Mmiriukwu, however, noted that the benefits of eating seafood outweighed the health threat, but caution needed to be taken to regulate the mercury intake.
She added that sea foods had net health benefit in cardiovascular, neurologic, immune, behavioural and mental health outcome.
“Children who eat fish may be less likely to develop asthma and have better functional brain and eyes because fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids,” Mmiriukwu said.
The food expert added that people who regularly ate fish had a lower incidence of depression and it helped diabetic patients manage their blood sugar level.
She also said breast fed babies of mothers who ate fish had better eyesight, perhaps due to the omega 3 fatty acids transmitted in breast milk. (NAN)