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Seafood consumption health concerns: The assessment of methylmercury, selenium, and eicosapentaenoic+docosahexaenoic fatty acids intake

Cardoso, Carlos, Afonso, Cláudia, Lourenço, Helena, Nunes, Maria Leonor
Food control 2013 v.34 no.2 pp. 581-588
children, docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid, hake, mackerel, methylmercury compounds, pelagic fish, pregnant women, risk, sardines, seafoods, selenium, Portugal
For hake, ray, and silver scabbard fish, the intake of methylmercury (methyl-Hg), selenium (Se), and eicosapentaenoic + docosahexaenoic fatty acids (EPA + DHA) through their consumption in Portugal and the associated probability of exceeding the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI), the recommended daily allowance (RDA), and the recommended daily intake (RDI), respectively, were estimated. For this, the methyl-Hg, Se, and EPA + DHA concentrations in the studied fish species were combined with constructed consumption scenarios for the elaboration of consumption recommendations or with a hypothesized Portuguese consumption distribution with the purpose of estimating the risk-benefit situation in Portugal.It was calculated that the probabilities of the methyl-Hg intakes exceeding the PTWI were always higher than the probabilities of the Se and EPA + DHA intakes surpassing the recommended thresholds, RDA and RDI, respectively, regardless of the species. The consumption of the three fish species should be limited to less than one meal per week, since this consumption frequency entailed a probability of exceeding the methyl-Hg PTWI ranging from 1:213 in hake to 1:4 in silver scabbard fish. For the Portuguese population, hake consumption −48.3 g/(week.person) — may be excessive, since a probability of 1:310 (meaning 320 persons at risk in 100,000) of the methyl-Hg intake exceeding the PTWI through this species consumption was calculated. Particularly, this applies to that fraction of the population whose hake consumption frequency is two or more weekly meals (which may reach 19.7%) and to more vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and small children, which should choose alternative fish species with lower methyl-Hg contents, such as, small pelagic fish (sardine, scad, or mackerel).