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Pregnant Ladies — Don't Fear Fish

Pregnant Ladies — Don't Fear Fish

When the FDA and EPA warned pregnant women about mercury levels in fish, consumption of this healthy food dropped dramatically. Women were told not to eat more than 12 oz. a week, but confusion about which fish was OK to eat and fear about getting too much mercury made women give fish up altogether.

Now experts are saying that not getting enough Omega-3s is much more dangerous to the developing fetus than getting trace amounts of mercury. These important fats are found most readily in fish and are necessary for brain development and improved motor and cognitive skills. Some evidence suggests that it may also prevent premature delivery and postpartum depression.

These experts are pushing pregnant woman to eat at least 12 oz. of fish, while the government's advice is to eat no more than 12 oz. The thing is, the National Fisheries Institute is the one paying for this health message urging pregnant women to eat more fish, so the message seems like it's got money on the mind instead of babies.

What's the bottom line? Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the health of growing babies. If you are pregnant and love to eat fish, go ahead and eat it, but stick to no more than 12 oz. a week. Salmon, tuna, sardines (yum), oysters, and mackerel are great sources. Not into fish? Great plant sources of omega-3s include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, walnuts, soy products, canola oil, and enhanced foods such as Breyer's yogurt and eggs.


Join The Conversation
fishfood fishfood 9 years
Vegetable and seed sources provide one with ALA which can be converted to EPA/DHA (those are the realllly good omega-3s people refer to). But only a limited amount of EPA/DHA can be produced from ALA (about 5% or so). The main source of the good omega-3s is fish (or fish oil supplements).
AucuneRancune AucuneRancune 9 years
I've got a question: I take fish oil eggs. Is that a good alternative to eating fish, to avoid mercury traces? Or is the mercury still present? Not preggers, btw.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 9 years
Haha. You can't get me to stop eating fish. Mmm fresh caught trout from the Sierra's, salmon from the Klammath River, and tuna from goddess knows where (hopefully Hawaii) oiye and king crab. Got to support those boys in alaska.
suzanne suzanne 9 years
Tricky to sort all that out... I'm not :PREGO:, but am fascinated with the changes in recommendations I've seen since I had my kids so many years ago.
JessWall1213 JessWall1213 9 years
I still don't understand why everyone mainly thinks of fish when seeking omega-3's... The vegetable and seed sources have no risk of mercury, or any other toxin for that matter, and they're cruelty free. It's a win-win.
fishfood fishfood 9 years
I wouldn't say that because of the advice most women have stayed clear of fish all together. There have been plenty of previous studies showing the benefits of omega-3s (high omega-3s are often found with low mercury fish). And if people read the FDA advisory it does actually LIST OUT the fish not to eat. People also take fish oil pills. So, it is not fair to jump to that rather hasty conclusion of the advice putting so many women off fish. It is irresponsible to urge pregnant mothers to eat more fish than the FDA recommends without any advice to avoid high mercury fish. Decades of scientific research on the toxicity of methylmercury suggest that it harms healthy fetal development. And you’re right, according to, the National Fisheries Institute partially funded this latest campaign to urge expectant women to consume more fish and seafood In fact, a few recent studies suggest that the benefits of fish consumption during pregnancy, such as improving infant gestation length and neurodevelopment, may be erased when the mother’s mercury levels are high. Women of childbearing age still need to select their fish wisely. The FDA advice should be posted at fish counters to help end confusion. Since many people don't read the newspaper, know the advice, or can remember which fish to avoid (shark, tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish, and certain tuna). Here’s the website to an organization that is trying to get grocery stores to post this important advice.
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