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November 21, 2011 at 10:05 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

The Effects of Mercury on Dogs & Humans

By Bri Luginbill More Blogs by This Author

Welcome to The Kibble.

This week, we'll explore the rising levels of Mercury in arctic regions and how sled dogs are being studied for the effects mercury has on our health.

Mercury in the Yukon

We’ve heard of mercury in our water supply, and we’ve heard of mercury in our food, but have any of us really stopped to think about the effects it has on us? For those living in arctic regions, particularly close to the Yukon River, it is a big concern. The locals in this region eat fish and marine mammals that live in mercury affected water.

A team of scientists from the University of Alaska decided to study the levels of mercury and antioxidants in sled dogs. Why sled dogs? Because they eat what their owners eat. Their diets both consist of wild game, fish, and marine mammals - the major staple of their diet is salmon.

The scientists observed two groups of dogs. The control group was fed meat-based commercial dog food that did not contain fish or fish product, while the experimental group was fed a diet consisting of at least 90% cooked salmon.

The Results

First, mercury levels were measured in both salmon and marine mammals. Salmon tissue was found to contain 90% mercury, and marine mammals contained even more. The dogs fed commercial dog food had significantly higher levels of antioxidants than those eating mainly salmon.

So, why are the dogs that are eating fish rich in antioxidants showing much lower concentrations? The mercury interferes with the antioxidants, which causes less antioxidants to be retained by the body, therefore lowering the concentration. This has led to the question of whether or not it's beneficial to eat salmon with high concentrations of mercury. According to Dunlap, one of the scientists involved with the research, the health benefits of fish still outweigh the effects of mercury,

“The level of mercury found in this study is considered safe by the EPA [US Environmental Protection Agency] and the health benefits of eating salmon far exceed the risks.”

It's great to know the amount of mercury has been given the okay by the EPA, but isn't anything that takes away the amount of nutrients you can get from your diet a problem?

What's your opinion? Do more studies need to be done?


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