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

Caterina Vacchi-Suzzi, Roxanne Karimi, Danielle Kruse, Susan M. Silbernagel, Keith E. Levine, Diane S. Rohlman, Jaymie R. Meliker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: 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. Objective: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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). Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-711
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Mercury
  • Methylmercury
  • Neurobehavioral test
  • Neurological test
  • Omega-3
  • n-3 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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