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Thu, 23 Oct 2014, 21:10 GMT
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Recommendations for Eating Fish and Shellfish for Pregnant Women

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Women and children need to eat a well balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish to contribute to a healthy heart and for children’s proper growth and development.  Fish and shellfish contain high quality protein and other essential nutrients.  They are low in saturated fat and contain omega-3 fatty acids.  Women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets because of these many nutritional benefits.

Almost all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury.  The risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish for most people is not a health concern.  Some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that “may” harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system.  The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend upon the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish.  It is for this reason that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advise women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children to avoid some types of fish and eat fish and shellfish that are low in mercury.

Follow the 3 recommendations listed below for selecting and eating fish or shellfish to ensure you receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident you are not exposing yourself to the harmful effect of mercury.

Fish and Shellfish you should not eat due to high levels of mercury include:

•    Shark
•    Swordfish
•    King mackerel
•    Tilefish

The recommendation is to eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) per week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.  These selections include:

•    Shrimp
•    Canned light tuna
•    Salmon
•    Pollock
•    Catfish
•    Albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna.  You may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

Fish caught by family and friends in local lakes, rivers and coastal areas:

•    Check with local advisories about the safety
•    If no advice is available, you can eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week, but do not consume any other fish during that week.

For more information about the levels in the various types of fish you eat, visit the FDA food safety website or the EPA website.

If for some reason you eat a lot of fish one week, you can cut back for the next week or two.  Be sure to average the recommended amount per week.  One week’s consumption of fish does not change the level of methylmercury in the body a whole lot.

Source:  U.S. Food and Drug Administration online

Disclaimer:  These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.


By Connie Limon
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