Thursday, July 15, 2010
Consider this information taken from Health Canada: A child's developing nervous system is particularly sensitive to methyl mercury. Depending on the level of exposure, the effects can include a decrease in I.Q., delays in walking and talking, lack of coordination, blindness and seizures. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/environ/merc-eng.php (Note: Methyl mercury is the type of mercury found in fish that is the cause of concern.)
Methyl mercury is greater in fish which are higher in the food chain: tuna is one of these. Does that mean it should be avoided altogether? This was my previous thinking. But recently I have been reading about the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in child brain development. Fish, as most of us know, is a very good source of this.
So how much tuna is safe? The U.S Environmental Protection Agency advices that children "eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week" of canned light tuna. Since albacore ("white") tuna contains more mercury than canned light tuna, children should eat no more than 6 ounces per week.
http://www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/advice/ (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has interpreted information about mercury from the Food and Drug Administration and the EPA. It has created a table that shows how much (of both kinds) of canned tuna is safe to eat for your child's weight. It can be found at: http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/tuna.asp
Health Canada, on the other hand, makes no recommendations on the restriction of canned light tuna. For canned albacore tuna, they recommend that a child between the ages of 1 and 4 get no more than 75g per week (1/2 a cup). http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/advisories-avis/_2007/2007_14-eng.php
Taking these recommendations into consideration, I finally served Noah and Aidas tuna sandwiches today. They wouldn't touch the tuna! Still, this isn't saying a whole lot since their tastes seem to change from week to week.
I would really like to look into different recipes with foods that contain omega 3's, that a picky toddler would approve of. "The best sources for omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish, walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, canola oil and soy." http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyournutritionist/f/omegacooking.htm