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Nutritional and toxicological aspects of seafood consumption—An integrated exposure and risk assessment of methylmercury and polyunsaturated fatty acids

Ström, Sofie, Helmfrid, Ingela, Glynn, Anders, Berglund, Marika
Environmental research 2011 v.111 no.2 pp. 274-280
Adequate Intakes, databases, exposure assessment, fatty acid composition, food frequency questionnaires, human health, lean fish, mercury, methylmercury compounds, omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, pregnant women, probabilistic models, risk, seafoods, toxicity
Seafood consumption is associated with both risks and beneficial effects to human health. Consequently, an integrated exposure assessment of intake of toxic and nutritious agents in seafood is of importance prior to determination of dietary advisories. We have developed a probabilistic model for the estimation of simultaneous intake of methylmercury (MeHg) and long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-n3 PUFAs) from seafood, to estimate the population proportion at risk for exceeding tolerable MeHg intake and not reaching adequate intake of PUFAs. Seafood consumption data was collected among women of childbearing age using a food frequency questionnaire. A database of mercury and fatty acids concentration in seafood was constructed. A Latin Hypercube simulation was used to calculate the intake of MeHg and LC n-3 PUFAs. Eleven percent of the population exceeded the MeHg reference dose of 0.1μg/kgbw/day, whereas only 44% reached an adequate PUFA intake. A small proportion (3.7%) exceeded the MeHg reference dose while at the same time did not reach an adequate PUFA intake. Furthermore, we simulated two scenarios in which seafood is consumed according to a general recommendation of three servings per week, whereof one serving of oily seafood. The first scenario included seafood with typically low MeHg concentrations (mean 0.056 and 0.027μgMeHg/g fish in lean and oily species, respectively), and the second included seafood typically high in MeHg concentrations (mean 0.50 and 0.26μgMeHg/g fish in lean and oily species, respectively). In the “high”scenario, almost 100% of the population exceeded the reference dose, whereas the corresponding proportion was only 5% in the “low” scenario. Overall, the results stress the importance of communicating species specific seafood consumption advisories for women of childbearing age in general and for pregnant women in particular, while at the same time encourage them to consume more seafood.