New Fish Eating Rules for Pregnant Women

Lauren Flynn Kelly
4

You know that pricey DHA supplement you take on top of your prenatal vitamin every day? Well, it may not be enough. New dietary guidelines are urging pregnant women and breastfeeding moms included -- to eat more fish.

New research shows that nutrients found in whole fish, not just your supplement, can play a role in your baby's brain and eye development. Therefore, moms are being urged to eat two to three servings of fish per week, which could even help prevent postpartum depression.

One more thing to add to your list of things to worry about, right?

The rules that apply to eating fish when pregnant are confusing. Pregnant women are supposed to avoid fish with high levels of mercury because of potential brain defects, but the DHA contained in fish are super important for fetal brain development.

I tried to keep a list of high and low mercury fish in my purse when I was pregnant. That lasted about a week. All I could remember was that tilefish was on the bad list because it sounds weird.

So what are the okay fish to eat? The guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture only mention that the high mercury fish -- the ones to stay away from -- are shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel. According to the National Fisheries Institute, it is safe for pregnant women to consume salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. The FDA also recommends shrimp, pollock, and catfish. And just like with your eggs and your meat, all fish should be cooked well. If you're eating canned tuna, however, albacore tuna has more mercury in it than light tuna, so the FDA warns against having more than six ounces of albacore in one week.

If you're not eating enough fish, will it harm your baby? Probably not. But if you're conscious about what you eat as well as what's in your supplements, it could be in your baby's best interest to get those weekly servings in.

Are you getting enough fish in your pregnancy diet?

 

Image via adactio/Flickr

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