All those warnings for pregnant women to steer clear of fish and other stuff containing mercury are now being questioned by researchers in the U.K., who found that 1) '90s babies whose moms didn't have the benefit of late night "Is it safe" internet searches and, therefore, ate fish with abandon, had higher-than-average IQs and 2) modern women's bodies contain mercury, whether or not they eat fish.
The UK's University of Bristol, which was looking at children born in the 1990s in its research, was surprised to find that the older a woman was, the higher her mercury levels, regardless of diet. Those with the highest levels tended to have a university degree, own their own homes and were pregnant with their first child later in life. These findings, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that only 7 percent of the mercury in women's bodies could be attributed to eating fish.
Only 1 percent of the women had mercury levels that exceeded what the U.S. considers safe.
They also found that the mercury levels in fish were far lower than the maximum amount found to be safe. Limiting the amount of fish consumed doesn't significantly lower mercury levels in the body, the team concluded.
And it's not just fish that, with regard to mercury, is safe to consume during pregnancy. After looking at foods and drinks consumed by 4,484 women during pregnancy, researchers found that, together, 103 of the most indicted foods accounted for less than 17 percent of total mercury levels in the body. That may still sound kind of high but consider this: Only 1 percent of the women had mercury levels that exceeded what the U.S. considers safe.
So herbal teas, which, after fish, contain the highest amounts of mercury, and also wine—No. 3 on the top mercury list!—are also safe to drink. I mean, you'll have to look at another study to determine of the alcohol compromises pregnancy. But in terms of the feared heavy metal, you're good to go.