Seafood such as fish, shrimp, squid, oysters, crabs, lobsters, mussels are rich in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B12, iron, zinc and magnesium that support a healthy brain, heart and immune system. However, seafood is one of the most common food allergens and can contain contaminants and heavy metals and can cause health problems when consumed in excess.
Shellfish and especially bottom fish may contain high levels of heavy metals such as mercury or cadmium due to their environment. The accumulation of these heavy metals in the body as a result of excessive consumption of seafood can lead to organ damage and health problems such as hearing and speech difficulties, lack of coordination and muscle weakness.
Children are much more sensitive to these neurological toxins. The accumulation of heavy metals in children can cause developmental delays, vision problems, lack of coordination, and impaired hearing and speech. However, consumption of shellfish and fish with high mercury content during pregnancy may cause problems in cognition, motor skills, speech and language development in the baby.
Although very few foods naturally contain iodine, seafood is a good source of iodine. Excessive consumption of seafood can lead to exceeding the tolerable upper intake level and iodine poisoning. Symptoms of iodine poisoning vary from mild to severe, depending on the amount of iodine taken. Mild symptoms of iodine poisoning include diarrhea, burning sensation in the mouth, nausea, vomiting; Serious symptoms are swelling of the airways, cyanosis, weak pulse and coma.
Seafood can cause food poisoning from bacteria, viruses or parasites due to the environment in which they live. At the same time, improper storage and cooking increases the risk of food poisoning. When these foods are consumed in large amounts, exposure to bacteria, viruses or parasites may increase, and serious health problems may develop.
Shellfish allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Shellfish allergy generally develops in adulthood, but can also occur in childhood. Vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain and cramps, swelling of the throat, tongue or lips, hives, shortness of breath are signs of an allergic reaction. Overconsumption of shellfish can cause a life-threatening anaphylactic shock in allergy sufferers that requires urgent treatment.
The FDA recommends that adults eat 85–140 grams of low-mercury fish twice a week. Salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout are among the fish with high omega-3 content and low possibility of mercury contamination. If the amount of shellfish you eat per week is equal to or less than this, it doesn’t matter. Pregnant women and children are advised to limit their mercury-containing seafood intake to no more than twice a week.