5 High Mercury Foods to Avoid and How to Detox it

Mercury is one of the most dangerous toxins in our modern environment. It’s a heavy metal that’s common in traffic and air pollution, amalgam dental fillings, soil, and even our food. 

Here’s why you need to be careful: Mercury can impact normal brain and immune function. And a wide variety of symptoms may be traced back to mercury exposure, ranging from headaches and fatigue to brain fog and more. 

Because we’re exposed to small amounts of mercury every day, mercury toxicity can be hard to catch. It doesn’t cause sudden, dramatic illness; instead, it slowly builds up in your tissue, causing gradually worsening a variety of related issues over the course of years.

It’s essential for your long-term health that you protect against daily mercury exposure and detox on a regular basis, to assist in the detox of any stored mercury in your system. 

Food is the number one source of mercury exposure in humans. [1] Pesticides, pollution in soil, and other mercury sources end up in our food supply, and eventually in our bodies. 

But if you avoid a few high-mercury foods, you can reduce your mercury exposure by a significant amount. Here are five common foods that contain mercury. 

1. High-Mercury Seafood

Seafood is the most common source of mercury in our diets. 

Mercury released from coal-burning plants ends up in the environment, and water is one of the main places it settles. [2]

Once mercury is in water, aquatic plants like seaweed and kelp absorb it. When they’re eaten by small fish, the small fish absorb the mercury. And when bigger fish eat smaller fish, the bigger fish absorb the mercury. 

This process is called bioaccumulation and it continues up the food chain. The longer a fish is alive, the more small fish it eats, the more mercury it absorbs across its lifetime. 

One of the best ways to reduce your mercury toxicity is to avoid high-mercury seafood. High-mercury fish include:

  • Shark
  • King mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Albacore, ahi/yellowfin, and bigeye tuna
  • Red snapper
  • Grouper

It’s worth noting that, while larger tuna species are high in mercury, canned skipjack tuna is still an excellent choice for seafood. Skipjack tuna doesn’t grow nearly as large as other tuna species, and as a result, it has far less mercury. I recommend avoiding the several types of tuna sold at sushi restaurants. I think it’s fine to eat canned tuna fish. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) used to suggest limiting high-mercury seafood to one meal a week. But as mercury pollution has gotten worse, they’ve changed their stance. They now suggest avoiding high-mercury seafood entirely. [3]

I don’t entirely agree. You want to avoid throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Why avoid a food group entirely when you know you can detox out any mercury you consume? You can take citrus pectin, chlorella, cilantro and many other substances to detox mercury. 

I think it’s a mistake to avoid seafood solely due to mercury or metal concerns. Most of our food supply today contains metals and chemicals and pesticides. So unless you plan to become a breatharian, it doesn’t make much sense to avoid fish. 

Enjoy your fish and the many many health benefits of seafood consumption. Seafood is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, minerals like selenium and high-quality protein. 

Just make sure you avoid fish that are high in mercury (or eat them only occasionally) and focus consumption of fish that are small like sardines, herring, anchovies, mackerel and salmon. They tend to have very little mercury due to how long they live. For more guidance on fish consumption, read my Seafood Survival Guide

2. High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Many companies make high-fructose corn syrup using mercury cells – containers of mercury and salt water used to produce certain ingredients. 

Many industries have been phasing out mercury cell production due to poisoning concerns, but high-fructose corn syrup manufacturers still use the process. 

Each year, mercury cell manufacturers report significant amounts of missing mercury to the EPA[4]. A recent study found that significant amounts of that mercury end up in high-fructose corn syrup. [4][5]

The average American consumes 50 grams of high-fructose corn syrup a day, which is enough to cause serious mercury toxicity over time. [5]

And even if you consume far less, mercury builds up and is hard to remove from your body, so every little bit matters. Your best bet is to avoid high fructose corn syrup. 

3. Food Coloring

A recent study looked at heavy metal content in a variety of food coloring agents. 

Researchers discovered that 20% of the food coloring samples were contaminated with mercury, including samples that contained “natural colors” instead of artificial food coloring. [6] Several samples also contained arsenic. 

A lot of processed food manufacturers list “natural colors” on their ingredient label. The phrase covers a wide variety of coloring agents, ranging from spices to extracts of insect parts. [7]

Some natural food colorings are made by combining natural compounds with aluminum and lead. [7][8]

Between mercury, arsenic, lead and aluminum, your best bet is to avoid food coloring, whether it’s natural or artificial. Stick to eating high-quality whole foods as much as you can. 

4. Duck Eggs

Duck eggs are another potential source of mercury. 

Ducks are often raised free-range, where they’re free to eat fish and insects that live in water. As global pollution worsens, ducks are at an increasing risk of mercury contamination — to the point where researchers use wild duck eggs as a way to measure environmental pollution in an area. [9]  

Several studies have found that mercury accumulates in duck eggs. [9][10] Duck eggs also accumulate other heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, as well as aflatoxin, a highly carcinogenic toxin produced by black mold. [11][12]

It’s in your best interest to avoid duck eggs. Eat chicken eggs instead. 

5. Factory-Farmed Meat

Many factory farms save money by feeding their livestock fishmeal –the pulverized and dried remains of fish that are deemed unfit for human consumption. 

The problem is that many of the fish are unfit for human consumption because they contain too much mercury. When you feed mercury-laden fish to cows, the mercury bioaccumulates in the meat, and humans end up eating the mercury anyway. [13]

Several studies have found that factory-farmed beef contains mercury, as well as cadmium and lead. [13][14]

Instead of factory-farmed beef and lamb, choose 100% grass-fed, organic meat. The livestock eat only grass and cannot be exposed to pesticides, which makes their meat far less toxic. 

What to Do if You’ve Been Eating High-Mercury Foods

If you’ve been eating high-mercury foods or have or have had mercury fillings in the past, it’s essential that you do a mercury detox. 

Mercury hides away in hard-to-reach parts of your body, including your brain, nervous system, liver and fat stores. It sits in your body, slowly sapping your energy and causing the hundred symptoms or more than mercury is known to cause.

However, if you mobilize too much mercury at once, it will release into your bloodstream in large amounts and cause detox symptoms. This is the biggest mistake people make when detoxing any heavy metal – they don’t take binders. 

To detox safely, you want something that mobilizes mercury and binds to it, deactivating it and pulling it from your body. 

That’s why I created CitriCleanse. It’s a gentle, yet effective toxin binder that you can use every day, and it’s specifically designed to remove heavy metals like mercury. 

CitriCleanse supports heavy metal detox in three steps:

  • Mobilize. Cilantro extract chelates heavy metals like mercury, pulling them from hidden places like your liver and fat stores[15]. 
  • Bind. Once the heavy metals are mobile, grapefruit citrus pectin acts as a binding agent, deactivating and absorbing the heavy metals so they don’t just settle into other parts of your body[16]. 
  • Mineralize. Humic acid and fulvic acid mineralize your body, displacing heavy metals and binding to them so they can’t do damage to your organs[17]. After the heavy metals are deactivated, you excrete them harmlessly, and they’re out of your system. 

It’s also important to note that studies show that magnesium and selenium protect against damage from mercury and may help to eliminate mercury. [18] That’s specifically why I formulated Ageless AF to contain selenium. 

CitriCleanse is effective, but it’s gentle enough to use as a daily detoxifier. It tastes like fresh citrus — just mix it in water and drink it every morning to support your body’s detox. 

If you’re worried about mercury in food, CitriCleanse can help. Give it a try and see how you feel. You’ll notice a difference within a few days. We have so many testimonials from people telling us how much better they feel after starting CitriCleanse on this page

And make sure you avoid high-mercury food. As our world gets increasingly polluted, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from hidden toxins. 

You can always detox metals out of your body, but it’s easier in the long run to avoid obvious sources of ingestion and exposure to protect your health. 

Click Here for References+

  1. Mahaffey, Kathryn R. “Mercury exposure: medical and public health issues.” Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association 116 (2005): 127. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1473138/
  2. Driscoll, C. T., Mason, R. P., Chan, H. M., Jacob, D. J., & Pirrone, N. (2013). “Mercury as a global pollutant: sources, pathways, and effects”. Environmental science & technology, 47(10), 4967-4983. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3701261/
  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Advice About Eating Fish” (2020). https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish
  4. Wallinga, David. “Not so sweet: missing mercury and high-fructose corn syrup.” Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (2009). https://www.iatp.org/sites/default/files/421_2_105026.pdf
  5. Dufault, Renee, et al. “Mercury from chlor-alkali plants: measured concentrations in food product sugar.” Environmental Health 8.1 (2009): 1-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637263/
  6. Ogimoto, Mami, et al. “Survey of toxic heavy metals and arsenic in existing food additives (natural colors).” Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. Journal of the Food Hygienic Society of Japan 50.5 (2009): 256-260. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19897953/
  7. Dapson, R. W., et al. “Revised procedures for the certification of carmine (CI 75470, Natural red 4) as a biological stain.” Biotechnic & Histochemistry 82.1 (2007): 13-15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17510809/
  8. Newsome, Andrew G., Catherine A. Culver, and Richard B. Van Breemen. “Nature’s palette: the search for natural blue colorants.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 62.28 (2014): 6498-6511. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24930897/
  9. Jeng, S. L., and C. P. Yang. “Determination of lead, cadmium, mercury, and copper concentrations in duck eggs in Taiwan.” Poultry science 74.1 (1995): 187-193. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7899207/
  10. Kennamer, Robert A., et al. “Mercury patterns in wood duck eggs from a contaminated reservoir in South Carolina, USA.” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: An International Journal 24.7 (2005): 1793-1800.  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16050598/
  11. Aendo, P., et al. “Health risk contamination of heavy metals in yolk and albumen of duck eggs collected in central and western Thailand.” Biological trace element research 184.2 (2018): 501-507. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29151237/
  12. Tulayakul, P., et al. “Heavy Metal (Cd and Pb) and Aflatoxin Contamination in Tissues and Eggs from Free Grazing Ducks and Their Environment in Central Thailand.” Biological trace element research 186.2 (2018): 514-520. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29600419/
  13. Dorea, Jose G. “Fish meal in animal feed and human exposure to persistent bioaccumulative and toxic substances.” Journal of food protection 69.11 (2006): 2777-2785. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17133828/
  14. Umer, Zeeshan, et al. “Assessment of heavy metal contaminants from protein sources.” J. Food Technol. Pres 1.2 (2017): 7-11. https://www.alliedacademies.org/articles/assessment-of-heavy-metal-contaminants-from-protein-sources.pdf 
  15. Téllez-López, Miguel Ángel, et al. “Evaluation of the chelating effect of methanolic extract of Coriandrum sativum and its fractions on wistar rats poisoned with lead acetate.” African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 14.2 (2017): 92-102. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5446471/
  16. Zhao, Zheng Yan, et al. “The role of modified citrus pectin as an effective chelator of lead in children hospitalized with toxic lead levels.” Alternative therapies in health and medicine 14.4 (2008): 34-39. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18616067
  17. Tang, Wang-Wang, et al. “Impact of humic/fulvic acid on the removal of heavy metals from aqueous solutions using nanomaterials: a review.” Science of the total environment 468 (2014): 1014-1027. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24095965
  18. Dufault, Renee Joy. “Unsafe at any meal: what the FDA does not want you to know about the foods you eat.” Square one publishers (2017).

in Articles/Detox/Lifestyle/Nutrition

Wendy Myers, FDN-P, is a heavy metals detox expert, functional diagnostic nutritionist and founder of Myersdetox.com. Discover her Myers Detox Protocol and enjoy freedom from fatigue and brain fog with heavy metal detox. Wendy is also the creator of the Mitochondria Detox , the only supplement kit on the market that helps you to remove toxic metals that cause fatigue.