Amalgam Fillings vs. Canned Tuna

Amalgam Fillings vs. Canned Tuna
4.55 (90.91%) 11 votes

Eating a can of tuna once a week is equivalent to living with how many mercury-containing amalgam tooth fillings?

Discuss
Republish

Because mercury can be so dangerous, concern has been raised about amalgam fillings—the silvery cavity fillings in our teeth—because they do contain mercury, and release a certain amount every day. Eating just a single can of tuna a week, though, is equivalent to having how many mercury-containing fillings in our mouth, day in and day out?

Less than 5? 5-10? 15? 20? 25? Or more than 25? Now, keep in mind, you have only 32 teeth.

One can a week is like living with 29 mercury-containing fillings. I don’t know if you remember those old James Bond flicks, but basically that means looking like this.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Because mercury can be so dangerous, concern has been raised about amalgam fillings—the silvery cavity fillings in our teeth—because they do contain mercury, and release a certain amount every day. Eating just a single can of tuna a week, though, is equivalent to having how many mercury-containing fillings in our mouth, day in and day out?

Less than 5? 5-10? 15? 20? 25? Or more than 25? Now, keep in mind, you have only 32 teeth.

One can a week is like living with 29 mercury-containing fillings. I don’t know if you remember those old James Bond flicks, but basically that means looking like this.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

49 responses to “Amalgam Fillings vs. Canned Tuna

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

    1. I recently found out that amalgam fillings in the teeth release mercury and I have about 4-5 of such fillings; should I remove them? Are there scientific articles encouraging it’s removal? I found this organization/video on the web touting for its removal because of it’s neurotoxicity: http://www.iaomt.org/patients/video.asp
      Are there risks of removing them?
      Thanks in anticipation of your response.

      1. Hubby is a dentist. More amalgam will be released by the drilling it out than it would by a lifetime in your mouth. Every time a tooth is drilled on, more tooth has to be removed. Especially in todays american dental world, where anything larger than a pinhole needs a crown. Be very careful about your dental choices. If it seems extreme, get a second opinion.

    2. Dear Dr. Greger:
      First of all, let me thank you for your excellent work here. It really helped me and I’m sure it will help others a LOT. I’ve been ovolactovegetarian since I was 4, and now I’m a vegan for almost 2 years.
      I’m also an odontology student, so I’m not only interested in nutrition but also in the subjects related to my career. I was told in the university that amalgam fillings release a minimal amount of mercury a day, so it’s not relevant as a health issue, ¿what do you think about it?. I would feel sorry about all the patients I put those grey fillings in if i knew they’re bad for health.
      Responding to those wondering if there is a risk removing amalgam fillings, yes there is: the risk that your dentist removes additional tooth material by expanding the cavity every time they remove it, either by iatrogenesis or because there is a caries under the filling. Another risk may occur because of the swallowing of the filling material, because of that, the dentist should always use a rubber dam before removing the amalgam fillings.

  1. I’ve read that Albacore tuna is bad but that chunk light tuna is safe and has safe levels of mercury (if there is such a thing). Is that true?

    1. Hello mjeejsmith!
      Just to expand on NickyC’s comment, Nicky is correct. A safe level of a toxin should always be 0. Mercury is stored in fat and it can take years for you to actually remove the mercury from your body. Check out this video regarding fish contamination http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/hair-testing-for-mercury/ As with regarding the different types of tuna, check out the Environmental Defense fund’s website http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=16314 and they show the tunas with the lowest levels. But again, these levels of mercury are considered “moderate” and other contaminants are excluded. Especially when they say eat no more than 4 servings of US/Canadian albacore a month, you know there is something harmful just in that statement. Seafood now a days can be considered where the sewage winds up, they are almost always contaminated with a wide range of harmful chemicals, from PCB’s, Mercury and Dioxins to Arsenic. These chemicals are difficult to remove from ones system so we should not eat these foods as to avoid replenishing the supply of toxins in our body. Check out this video for more information on fish contamination http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/food-sources-of-pcb-chemical-pollutants/

  2. I have lots of fillings in my teeth. Is there anything I can do apart from removing them?.

    I read that sardines are better than tuna regading mercury. Also, from the nutrition data I see they have more omega 3. What about mackerel?

  3. Almost all fish are contaminated by mercury. So to minimized the ingestion of mercury it is best to avoid all fish. See http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/hair-testing-for-mercury/. I know of no credible sources recommending removal of fillings to reduce mercury load in the body. Omega 3’s are best consumed through natural sources (flax and walnuts) or by taking algae derived omega3’s(which is where the fish get it anyway)… see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/algae-based-dha-vs-flax-2/. By avoiding fish you also avoid all the cholesterol, saturated fat plus all other contaminants such as PCB’s.

  4. Dr. Greger,

    With regard to your video:
    http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/amalgam-fillings-vs-canned-tuna/

    I recently found out that amalgam fillings in the teeth release mercury and I have about 4-5 of such fillings; should I remove them? Are there scientific articles encouraging it’s removal? I found this organization/video on the web touting for its removal because of it’s neurotoxicity: http://www.iaomt.org/patients/video.asp
    Are there risks of removing them?

    I am confused because some people say that the exposure from amalgam is not sufficient to result in any health issues, and that taking out the fillings could cause more problems (i.e. weakening the tooth more, and increasing mercury exposure in the process).

    To further compound this case, the alternative to amalgam (composite resins/fillings) have also proven to be equally or even more toxic compared to amalgam. I have read several scientific articles and they seem to contradict one another.

    Thanks in anticipation of your response.

  5. Dr. Greger,

    Thanks again for this incredibly informative website. I love it.

    A question: how did you come up with your calculation about how many mercury-containing dental fillings are equivalent to eating a can of tuna once a week?”

    1. Three national brands of canned tuna were recently tested for mercury. They averaged 600 ppb of mercury, exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safety level for human consumption (500 ppb). The drained solids in a can of tuna weigh about 170 grams, so that comes out to be about 100 mcg of mercury per can of tuna. A conservative estimate of the amount of mercury we’re exposed to on a daily basis per amalgam-filled tooth is 0.5 mcg, so eating a single can of tunafish a week is like having 29 teeth filled with mercury-based fillings day in and day out.

      1. I think your numbers are off, so I put together my own comparison with details that you did not address.
        http://www.mercuryexposure.info/context/debunking-amalgam-myths/more-mercury-in-a-tuna-sandwich/item/842-is-there-more-mercury-in-a-tuna-sandwich-compared-to-mercury-dental-fillings 

        We might also want to factor in exposure during placement polishing and removal. Check out Richardson’s other published study, “Inhalation of Mercury-Contaminated Particulate Matter by Dentists: An Overlooked Occupational Risk”

        http://www.mercuryexposure.info/occupational/mercury-exposure/item/576-inhalation-of-mercury-contaminated-particulate-matter-by-dentists-an-overlooked-occupational-risk

        1. 1 can Tuna per WEEK = approx 100 mcg
          1 Tooth filling per DAY = just over .5 mcg * 7 = 3.5/WEEK

          29 *3.5 = 101.5 mcg/week

          So…. Every time you eat one can of Tuna, it is just like having about 29 amalgam fillings in your mouth and receiving the same amount as if from their leeched Mercury for a whole week’s time.

          This means that eating just 2 cans of Tuna (200 mcg) yields more than the amount of Mercury that 1 Mercury filling will for a whole year (about 182 mcg). However, the Tuna (and other polluted fish/seafood) is worse, because as noted, that higher dose is introduced all at once and it takes a long time for the body to reduce levels of toxins such as Mercury.

  6. Maybe instead of removing amalgams and cause problems it is better to take a supplement that captures the mercury. I read selenium is good but have no experience.

  7. I’m not sure if this is still open as the last comment was a year ago but I will give it a go. I have to have a filling replaced and my dentist said the only option is a mercury amalgam filling due to the size and shape of the cavity. I am a nursing mother. Is it safe for me to have my tooth filled or should I wait? There is too much conflicting info out there. Thank you.

    1. I can give a dental assistant/hygienist’s opinion. Switch dentists, or demand a ‘plastic’ filling, and if you promise that you’ll have the tooth crowned soon as you can, he/she will do it. It will be more fragile than amalgam, but not requiring that you chew on the other side unless you’re chewing something like jerky (why would anyone eat that anyway?). Apples, okay, beer nuts, no.

  8. According to the World Health Organization – Mercury is toxic to human health, posing a particular threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life. Mercury exists in various forms: elemental (or metallic); inorganic (e.g. mercuric chloride); and organic (e.g., methyl- and ethylmercury), which all have different toxic effects, including on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.

    Mercury is highly toxic, especially when metabolized into methyl mercury. It may be fatal if inhaled and harmful if absorbed through the skin. Around 80% of the inhaled mercury vapour is absorbed in the blood through the
    lungs. It may cause harmful effects to the nervous, digestive, respiratory, immune systems and to the kidneys, besides causing lung damage. Adverse health effects from mercury exposure can be: tremors, impaired vision and hearing, paralysis, insomnia, emotional instability, developmental deficits during fetal development, and attention deficit and developmental delays during childhood. Recent studies suggest that mercury may have no
    threshold below which some adverse effects do not occur.

    Dental amalgam is the most commonly used dental filling material. It is a mixture of mercury and a metal alloy. The normal composition is 45-55% mercury; approximately 30% silver and other metals such as copper, tin and
    zinc. In 1991, the World Health Organization confirmed that mercury contained in dental amalgam is the greatest source of mercury vapour in non-industrialized settings, exposing the concerned population to mercury
    levels significantly exceeding those set for food and for air.

    (Source:http://www.who.int/ipcs/publications/cicad/en/cicad50.pdf)

  9. As this is a relevant topic, I was wondering?

    Root Canal Treatment? Its a dental procedure and even though there are surplus files and documents spilling around the Internet about faulty metal hips and metal teeth (such as above) Is there any real evidence linking Root Canal dental procedures with cancer? The idea about an abscess growing back in a dead tooth and mutating into something cancerous with no nerve sounds logical, but is there anything solid to note?

    1. I would think that nerve damage is a lot more likely than cancer, but I wouldn’t rule cancer out. Especially if you are including “local” cancers, like you can get mouth cancers from chewing tobacco over the years.

  10. Interesting to hear the opinions and research findings; however, I must consider one thing that no one has mentioned, according to my reading of these entries. When calculating “acceptable” and “dangerous” levels of the differing types of mercury, I hear people relating to tuna sandwiches and cancer rates. I haven’t heard anyone mention the presence of carcinogenic elements of enriched, processed flour and mayonnaise in the sandwich equation. Also, I haven’t heard anyone mention that cancer was virtually unknown before the “modern” age. Example: Several thousand mummies were autopsied to check for cancer presence in the non-modern or pre-modern age. Only one case of cancer was found – in thousands !! Now, we know that one in three to four people will be impacted by cancer. One in six men are already impacted by prostate cancer. At what level of exposure do we finally say, well, that’s acceptable to me?!?! We have made a fine art of processing, transporting and storing food. We experience a constant barrage of microwave and radio wave transmission penetrating our body, 24 hours per day, so that we can enjoy soap operas, satellite TV, cell phone and internet communication. We watch kids eating Skittles and popsicles without giving it a second thought. Cattle and chickens are fed concoctions that make them grow fast and infection free only as long as it takes to slaughter them, so we can cook them (and their man-made body chemistry) in oils from genetically modified corn and soybeans. At what point do we separate the fish mercury from the rest of life on modern Earth and define a formula to evaluate amalgam fillings?

    1. Hi rb99. Good question. I think sardines would have lower mercury levels than tuna (most other fish do) since they just eat plankton. They still have mercury from what i gather, but I am unsure exact amounts. It appears contaminates can vary based on location and type of fish. A study from the U.S. shows doses of lead, cadmium and arsenic in canned sardines. This study in Port Moresby tested different levels of fish and found sardines to be the lowest. I am not sure any level of mercury is safe. Some other videos that mention sardines and if interested, here and here. One video is on atrial fibrillation, the other on
      amnesic seafood poisoning.

  11. I wonder how incompetent you are? Corelation dont imply causation. Check maybe Japanese nation with highest fish consuption rates and why we dont see any problems there in the cognitive tests?.

    1. Please no name calling on the site. This video is about canned tuna and fillings not Japanese populations and cognition. Thanks.

  12. i have to say that i don’t agree with the conclusion sugent in the present video. as Michael says, it is not a good thing compare something with the worth things.. if fish is worst doesn’t mean amalgam is safe! (it is not said but sugent) the other day an amalgam have break to my aunt during night, she have swallowed part of it without notices. amalgam breaks.. and its relatively common..

  13. Should I have my mercury-containing fillings removed, or in your opinion will the acute exposure from the drilling out process outweigh the benefit of not having them for the rest of my life? (PS I’m 31, eating WFPB, and hope to live to 100 haha)

  14. I had mercury poisoning with a level of 38 with 0-9 being normal, mostly from tuna freshly caught in Costa Rica but the 22 amalgam fillings were additive. Fish was my last ‘meat,’ and now as a vegan with changed fillings my mercury levels are normal but the neuropathy is permanent. My thinking and memory are much better: mercury poisoning is no joke and not that hard to develop. Concentrated foods such as brown rice sweetener from China and high fructose syrup also concentrate mercury.

  15. I often (I would say every 3 months) get this funny feeling in my mouth. Its between metallic and dry. I really can’t explain. I have been having it for a year and plus or so. Could the fillings in my mouth be responsible? I have had these fillings for quite a while…so I’m just wondering why this now. This feeling lasts for a week before I get my normal taste back. It seems I am able to taste “sweets” better during this period and other foods taste almost like paper.. What could be the cause? and what can I do? Thanks.

  16. I’m in serious pain and found out today from blood work that I am toxic with mercury!
    Can a regular dentist just pull out the teeth that have the fillings?
    I’m in a state where there is not one dentist who takes the mercury poisoning precautions!
    NOT ONE!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This