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Dependence of blood indices of selenium and mercury on estimated fish intake in a national survey of British adults

  • Christopher J Bates (a1), Ann Prentice (a1), Maureen C Birch (a1) and H Trevor Delves (a2)

Abstract

Objective

Contributions of fish and other foods to variance of selenium and mercury status were studied in British adults.

Setting and design

Plasma and red-cell selenium and whole-blood mercury concentrations were measured during the National Diet and Nutrition Survey of Adults aged 19–64 years in mainland Britain, 2000–2001 (n = 1216). Food intake was weighed for seven consecutive days, and foods were combined in groups for data analysis. Four subsidiary groups characterised fish intakes: fried white fish, ‘other’ white fish, shellfish and oily fish.

Results

Geometric means and 5–95% ranges were: for whole-blood mercury, 5.61 (1.30–22.2) nmol l− 1; for plasma selenium, 1.09 (0.83–1.43) μmol l− 1; for red-cell selenium, 1.64 (1.14–2.40) μmol l− 1. Twenty-eight per cent had no fish intake recorded during 7 days; the remaining 72% had a median intake of 237 g over the 7-day period, 5–95% range 45–780 g. Total fish intake was strongly and directly correlated with blood mercury, and moderately with red-cell and plasma selenium. Thus, sqrt(total fish intake) was correlated with: loge(blood Hg), t = +19.7; loge(plasma Se), t = +9.8; and loge(red-cell Se), t = +9.6, all P < 0.0001. All three biochemical (mercury and selenium) indices were strongly correlated with oily fish intake, and moderately correlated with shellfish and ‘other’ ( = non-fried) white fish, but none was significantly correlated with fried white fish. Blood mercury was strongly and directly correlated with red-cell and plasma selenium, and both increased with age.

Conclusions

Dietary fish, especially oily fish, is a strong predictor of blood mercury and selenium in British adults.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Email Chris.Bates@mrc-hnr.cam.ac.uk

References

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Keywords

Dependence of blood indices of selenium and mercury on estimated fish intake in a national survey of British adults

  • Christopher J Bates (a1), Ann Prentice (a1), Maureen C Birch (a1) and H Trevor Delves (a2)

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