Definition

Methylmercury is the organic mercury compound that may accumulate in seafood.

Health considerations

Methlymercury exposure typically has less serious effects on exposed adults, though these include development of cardiovascular and autoimmune disease. By contrast children born to mothers exposed to methyl mercury, which is able to cross the placenta, show severe neurological issues and other developmental problems; prenatal exposure has also been associated with ADHD symptoms. Methylmercury exposure has been associated with a reduction in circulating thyroid hormones. There is some research that the mercury content of some fish essentially counteracts the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids also found within.

Keep in mind

Methylmercury accumulates up the food chain, i.e. is typically found in lower levels among algae and small fish, and in higher levels among larger, fish-eating fish. Older and larger fish will likely have higher methylmercury content.

May be found in

Shark, swordfish, marlin, largemouth bass, northern pike, large species of tuna

References

American Journal of Physiology
The New England Journal of Medicine
Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Neurotoxicology
EHP Children’s Health Collection 2013

Aternative Spellings and Names

Monomethylmercury, monomethylmercury(II) cation

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