What New FDA Fish Recommendations Mean for Your Pregnancy

July 8, 2014

If you’re pregnant and love seafood, you’ll be thrilled to know that the FDA has updated their recommendations regarding fish consumption for pregnant women, nursing mamas and young children. The new recommendations are great news if you enjoy eating fish and are excited about feeding yourself and your developing baby an über-healthy protein source. After multiple studies, the FDAs scientists and researchers have determined the healthy benefits of consuming fish outweigh the detriments of its potential metal toxicity.

They now advise that women and children should make sure to eat at least 8 to 12-ounces of fish each week so their bodies get the Omega 3s they need.

Buckets of Fish

Image Courtesy of Ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s the Dish With Fish? Eating 8 to 12 Ounces is Good for You and Your Baby

While fish are one of the healthiest sources of animal protein – rich in Omega 3s and other important nutrients – the fish pulled out of our polluted oceans often test positive for common environmental toxins that are dumped into the sea. One of the most dangerous of these is mercury. In order to protect us all from mercury poisoning – which is linked to poor neurological function in developing fetuses, nursing babies and young children – the FDA and other healthcare professionals have been very cautious in their recommendations regarding seafood consumption and the mother’s diet.

Until recently, FDA Guidelines recommended that pregnant and nursing women as well as young children limit their consumption of seafood to no more than 12-ounces per week. Unfortunately, fish and seafood are one of the best sources of healthy Omega-3s you can get. So, the new guidelines advise that mothers try to eat at least 8 to 12-ounces of seafood per week, but not exceed the 12-ounce mark just to be safe. Children’s fish and seafood portions should be relative to the individual child’s size.

Which Fish Are Safe to Eat When You’re Pregnant and Breastfeeding?

Good question, because not all mercury-tainted fish are created equal. Some species consistently test higher for mercury than others and the low-mercury fish types are the ones you want to prioritize.

Safe Fish. Fish and seafood items on the safe list include canned light tuna, cod, pollock, tilapia, catfish, shrimp and salmon. Not used to cooking fish? Here are some great, fast recipes from Cooking Light to get you inspired.

No-No Fish. Then there are the fish you want to stay away from to avoid potential mercury poisoning. These include any fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico, shark, king mackerel and tile fish.

What’s So Great About Eating Fish Anyway?

For one thing, fish is pretty low in fat, which is a bonus in more ways than one. The fat that fish does have is the healthiest kind of animal fat for your body to metabolize. However, the largest nutritional benefit is that fish are chock full of Omega-3s. In addition to being essential for optimal human neural (brain and spinal cord) development, Omega 3s also seem to prevent a host of diseases and undesirable medical conditions, including heart disease, strokes, cancer, and irritable bowel issues among others.

The FDA’s Acting Chief Scientist said, “We’re updating our advice because the latest science strongly indicates that eating 8 to 12 ounces per week of a variety of fish lower in mercury during pregnancy benefits fetal growth and development…The reason for this is that fish, more than any other animal, have what are considered to be “high-quality” proteins and low saturated fat levels in addition to vitamins, minerals and healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.”

You can’t argue with that. Fish sticks, anyone? Make sure to bookmark the Women’s Health Associates Blog to remain updated on the latest research and information regarding your health and the health of your baby.