The Scoop on Fish and Mercury | Fit Pregnancy

The Scoop on Fish and Mercury

Part of putting your Supermarket Smarts to work is to make informed choices when eating fish and seafood during pregnancy.

Part of putting your Supermarket Smarts to work is to make informed choices when eating fish and seafood during pregnancy. Although you should limit or avoid eating certain types of fish during pregnancy, there are still plenty of healthful options in the seafood department. There you can find lean sources of protein and healthful omega-3 fatty acids. "Studies have shown that [omega-3 fatty acids] are an important nutrient for the development and health of the fetal nervous system, heart and eyes," says Jennifer Wider, M.D., medical advisor to the Society for Women's Health Research in Washington, D.C. You need about 1.4 grams a day.

There is also some evidence that omega-3s may lower the risk of preterm birth and postpartum depression.

Visit gotmercury.org to find the healthiest seafood choices, and to use the Mercury Calculator to calculate the average amount of mercury found in the fish you want to eat.

And, follow these recommendations from the Center for Food Safety and Applied Science:

By following these 3 recommendations for selecting and eating fish or shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

1. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

-Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish.

-Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week.