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Editor's Note: Pass the selenium

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
November 01, 2007

Millions of dollars have been spent worldwide over the past two decades researching the health benefits associated with seafood consumption. Despite all of the studies, the message consumers continue to hear is to avoid seafood because it's high in methylmercury. Now there are two landmark studies (see Newsline, p. 8) that could debunk the groundswell of mercury-in-seafood misinformation that has many pregnant and nursing women avoiding an essential protein.

Dr. Nicholas Ralston, a researcher at the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, has published two studies that show selenium in seafood counteracts the negative effects of methylmercury. We first heard from Ralston when he was a panelist at the SeaFood Business Summit, "Methylmercury: Combating the scare" at the 2005 International Boston Seafood Show. 
We next reported on selenium in the December 2005 Top Story "Medical miracle: omega-3." Now that Ralston's research has been finished and the findings officially published, it's time to get the news out 
to the rest of the world.

The only problem with the selenium story is that it may fall on deaf ears. The industry took a beating when news outlets reported the results of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition recommendation early last month (see Newsline, p. 8) that pregnant and nursing women eat a minimum of 12 ounces of seafood each week. It wasn't the industry's fault the news outlets didn't ask the basic question of whether the industry had any financial connection to the recommendation. Look at any industry with a lobbying arm and you'll find the same scenario: It takes money and the right people 
to get your message heard. Unfortunately, that negative impression likely doomed the Healthy Mothers advice and could overshadow the good news within these selenium studies.

The industry needs to overcome this latest PR fiasco and start talking about selenium. This research has the potential to upset decades of health recommendations that have only gone halfway in support 
of increased seafood consumption. Start talking with scientists, nutritionists, government policy makers and anyone else about Ralston's studies: It's high time the anti-mercury story was told.



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