New research conducted by the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington has found that young adults consuming higher levels of mercury face a higher risk of type 2 “diabetes” by 65 percent later in life. Led by the university’s epidemiologist Ka He, the study has identified the consumption of shellfish and fish as the main dietary source of mercury. This finding poses a complication on nutrition since fish and shellfish are also known to be an important source of lean protein and nutrients like omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids and magnesium.
Around 3,875 participants participated in the research. After studying lifestyle controls and other dietary consumption of magnesium and omega-3 poly-unsaturated fatty acids, the study was able to establish a connection between type 2 diabetes risk and mercury levels in both men and women.
Participants who have higher levels of mercury practice a healthier lifestyle and perform exercises more regularly, which can be seen in their lower body mass indexes and smaller waist measurements. The higher levels of mercury were also attributed to their higher consumption of fish, which can be an indicator of a healthy diet or a higher socio-economic status. Being overweight was also identified as one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
An important finding from the study, includes emphasizing the importance of choosing the right fish with lower mercury levels such as salmon, catfish and shrimp. It was also pointed out that people should avoid fish with higher mercury content such as shark and swordfish. Fish consumption guidelines under the FDA and EPA also include provisions on mercury levels, particularly for young children, pregnant women, and women of childbearing age.
According to He and the other authors of the research, the study reflects the overall health impact of eating fish, since it contains both helpful nutrients and harmful contaminants. They further add that any other study relating to the nutrients and contaminants in fish should also consider its other components.
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