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While they might be somewhat of an acquired taste, oysters' delicate flavor and impressive nutritional profile make them a worthwhile addition to your diet. They come packed with beneficial nutrients, and provide considerable amounts of several vitamins and minerals. However, oysters do have some nutritional drawbacks, and consuming them might put you at risk of a nutrient toxicity or food-borne illness.
Oysters serve as excellent sources of vitamin B-12, also called cobalamin. Vitamin B-12 allows for gene methylation -- a process your cells use to control gene activity. It also helps you make neurotransmitters and myelin required for healthy nervous system function, and plays a role in red blood cell production. Getting enough vitamin B-12 in your diet also proves important for disease prevention, because low vitamin B-12 levels increase the risk of breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease. A 6-ounce serving of oysters contains 28 micrograms of vitamin B-12 and provides all the cobalamin you need in a day, according to guidelines from the Institute of Medicine.
Iron and Selenium
Oysters also offer health benefits thanks to their selenium and iron content. Both minerals act as antioxidants and protect your tissues from oxidative damage. Selenium also supports proper muscle function and helps you make thyroid hormone, while iron allows you to produce healthy red blood cells. A 6-ounce serving of oysters boasts 10 milligrams of iron and 108 micrograms of selenium. This provides your entire daily recommended intake of selenium, as well as the entire daily iron requirement for men and 55 percent for women, according to the Institute of Medicine.
Risks from Zinc
Oysters come packed with zinc. Each 6-ounce portion contains 64 milligrams of zinc -- eight times the recommended daily intake for women and almost six times the recommended daily intake for men, set by the Institute of Medicine. While a small amount of zinc proves essential for good health, oysters' high zinc levels put you at risk of a zinc overdose. Zinc overdose can cause digestive upset, and if you over-consume zinc for long periods of time, you might develop copper deficiency. This deficiency can cripple your immune system by reducing your white blood cell counts, and cause anemia by reducing the number of functional red blood cells in your bloodstream.
Other Bad Effects
Oysters also carry a risk of food poisoning and cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Shellfish poisoning, caused by toxins in the algae that the oysters feed on, leads to numbness and tingling around your mouth, as well as difficulty swallowing or speaking. You might also feel tingling in your arms and legs. Oysters can also cause allergic reactions for those with shellfish allergies. You might suffer from nausea, experience difficulty breathing or feel light-headed. Shellfish allergies can also lead to swelling or cause you to break out in hives.