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Mercury, selenium and fish oils in marine food webs and implications for human health

  • Matthew O. Gribble (a1), Roxanne Karimi (a2), Beth J. Feingold (a3), Jennifer F. Nyland (a4), Todd M. O'Hara (a5), Michail I. Gladyshev (a6) (a7) and Celia Y. Chen (a8)...
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


Humans who eat fish are exposed to mixtures of healthful nutrients and harmful contaminants that are influenced by environmental and ecological factors. Marine fisheries are composed of a multitude of species with varying life histories, and harvested in oceans, coastal waters and estuaries where environmental and ecological conditions determine fish exposure to both nutrients and contaminants. Many of these nutrients and contaminants are thought to influence similar health outcomes (i.e., neurological, cardiovascular, immunological systems). Therefore, our understanding of the risks and benefits of consuming seafood require balanced assessments of contaminants and nutrients found in fish and shellfish. In this paper, we review some of the reported benefits of fish consumption with a focus on the potential hazards of mercury exposure, and compare the environmental variability of fish oils, selenium and mercury in fish. A major scientific gap identified is that fish tissue concentrations are rarely measured for both contaminants and nutrients across a range of species and geographic regions. Interpreting the implications of seafood for human health will require a better understanding of these multiple exposures, particularly as environmental conditions in the oceans change.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: M.O. Gribble, Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, 2001 N. Soto Street, Los Angeles, CA 90032, USA. email:


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Mercury, selenium and fish oils in marine food webs and implications for human health

  • Matthew O. Gribble (a1), Roxanne Karimi (a2), Beth J. Feingold (a3), Jennifer F. Nyland (a4), Todd M. O'Hara (a5), Michail I. Gladyshev (a6) (a7) and Celia Y. Chen (a8)...