Reel in the Important Nutrients in Fish

Women who are pregnant should include fish in their diets. This can help your health. It can also help your baby grow and develop. But some types of fish are better than others for pregnant women, and you’ll need to avoid some varieties. This is because they have high levels of mercury.  

High omega-3, low mercury is best

Fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. This is a healthy type of fat. It’s important for your baby’s brain and eye development.

Pregnant women should aim to eat 8 to 12 ounces (two to three servings) of fish per week. This can help make sure that you’re getting enough fatty acids.  Good choices of fish include the following:

  • Shrimp

  • Salmon

  • Pollock

  • Catfish.

  • Canned light tuna. Light tuna haslower levels of mercury than albacore (white) tuna. However, pregnant women may have up to 6 ounces (about 1 serving) of albacore tuna per week. 

Avoid fish high in mercury

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that pregnant women should avoid types of fish that may be higher in mercury. Mercury can be toxic to a baby's or child's nervous system. Pregnant women should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

The FDA says to choose fish that are lower in mercury, such as those listed above. They also say to pay attention to fish advisories when eating fish from streams, rivers, and lakes.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists echoes the advice of the FDA. Still, many Americans, including pregnant women, do not eat at least two servings of fish per week. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Bowers, Nancy, RN, BSN, MPHFoley, Maryann, RN, BSN

Date Last Reviewed: 4/12/2016

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