• Article

Low-level mercury, omega-3 index and neurobehavioral outcomes in an adult US coastal population

Neurodevelopmental effects of omega-3 fatty acids and mercury from fish consumption have been characterized in children. In contrast, neurobehavioral outcomes associated with fish are not well studied in adults.

This study of avid seafood consumers on Long Island (NY, USA) sought to define associations between mercury, seafood consumption, omega-3 fatty acids and neurobehavioral outcomes.

A computer-based test system was used to assess neurobehavioral function. Blood total Hg (Hg) and omega-3 index were measured in 199 adult avid seafood eaters, who also completed the neurobehavioral assessment and an extensive food and fish frequency and demographic questionnaire.

For most of the outcomes considered, neither Hg nor omega-3 index was associated with neurobehavioral outcomes after adjustment for key confounding variables. Fish consumption, however, was associated with decreased odds of both self-reported fatigue (OR 0.85; 95 % CI 0.72, 1.01) and a constellation of neurologic symptoms (OR 0.79; 95 % CI 0.66, 0.96).

Results from our study provide little evidence that omega-3 fatty acids or Hg is associated with cognitive function in adult avid seafood consumers. Larger studies are needed to confirm our finding of associations between fish consumption and decreased self-reported fatigue and neurologic impairment.


Vacchi-Suzzi, C., Karimi, R., Kruse, D., Silbernagel, S., Levine, K., Rohlman, D., & Meliker, J. (2016). Low-level mercury, omega-3 index and neurobehavioral outcomes in an adult US coastal population. European Journal of Nutrition, 55(2), 699-711. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-0890-5, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-0890-5

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