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Fish Consumption During Pregnancy

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made headlines this month when they released guidelines on how much fish pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume.

While previously both the FDA and EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that should be consumed by pregnant women, no minimum has ever been established.

The new recommendations are based on emerging evidence that fish are an abundant source of omega 3 fatty acids, and that these nutrients can have a “positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health” (Stephen Ostroff, MD).

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are now recommended to eat at least 8 ounces, and up to 12 ounces (2-3 servings) per week of varieties of fish that are low in mercury.

Fish that are known to be high in mercury and should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children are:

  • Tilefish
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Albacore tuna (“white” tuna)
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Escolar

Fish that is encouraged due to lower levels of mercury include:

  • Shrimp
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Light tuna

Fish oil supplements that are analyzed for mercury levels are also safe for consumption in pregnancy and offer the same health benefits to mother and baby as eating fish.

Selected references

FDA Press Release: FDA and EPA issue draft updated advice for fish consumption

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm397929.htm

Sea Choice: Healthy Recommendations
http://www.seachoice.org/seafood-recommendations/health-recommendations/

Health Canada: Mercury in Fish

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/chem-chim/environ/mercur/cons-adv-etud-eng.php

Health Canada: Fish Consumption Advisories

https://www.ec.gc.ca/mercure-mercury/default.asp?lang=En&n=DCBE5083-1

Lisa Watson

Dr. Lisa Watson is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is a passionate writer and speaker and encourages her patients and readers to embrace their full, amazing, health potential. You can follow Dr. Watson on twitter at @drlisawatson or contact her at drlisa@drlisawatson.com.

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