Eat More Fish!
Adapted from Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know by U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have recently increased the recommended weekly amount of seafood for pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and those who might become pregnant.
The recommendation translates to two to three servings (up to 12 ounces total) of low-mercury fish per week.
Recent surveys suggest that 21 percent of pregnant women ate no fish in the previous month. Of those who did, 50 percent had less than 2 ounces and 75 percent had less than 4 ounces.
Emerging science shows that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood means missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.
Both agencies recommend selecting fish proven to be low in mercury content, including shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish, and cod.
Only four fish are on the do-not-eat list in the current update: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel.
FDA and EPA also advised that women should limit their intake of albacore tuna, whether in canned form or as steaks, to 6 ounces a week, given its higher mercury content.
Fish oil supplements, unfortunately, won’t suffice: There are a variety of things found in fish, including proteins and other nutrients, not just simply omega-3 fatty acids.
All types of fish contain some mercury. Because the metal accumulates as it moves up the food chain, levels tend to be higher in large and long-lived predators such as swordfish, but the nutritional benefits from most seafood outweigh any mercury risks.