For pregnant woman, what you eat and drink and also what you avoid influences your baby’s development. It is advisable to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and avoid alcohol, but consuming fish and seafood need a lot of consideration. Why? Here Roger Harms, M.D., a pregnancy specialist at Mayo Clinic gave his advice:
The link between pregnancy and fish
Seafood is a great source of protein and iron, which is essentials for your baby’s growth and development. And some fish is rich of Omega -3 fatty acids which is good for the baby’s brain development.
But large and predatory fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish may contains high levels of mercury which is can harm your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. That’s why you should avoid eating these fish if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
The recommended amount
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that pregnant women can safely eat up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of seafood a week. But there are still no study which noted that eating more than the recommended amount is giving a negative effect.
Fish that safe to eat
Choose seafood and fish that are low in mercury, such as:
Canned light tuna is good also, but limit albacore tuna, chunk white tuna, and tuna steak to no more than 6 ounces or 170 grams a week.
Another guidelines for pregnancy and fish
Consider these precautions:
1. Avoid large and predatory fish. Don’t eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish.
2. Avoid raw fish and shellfish (especially oysters and clams), because they might contains harmful bacteria and viruses which they get from the polluted water.
3. Understand local fish advisories. If there are no advice, limit fish from local water to 6 ounces (170 grams) a week and don’t eat other fish that week.
4. Cook seafood properly. The fish is done when they turn separates into flakes and appears opaque throughout. Shrimps, lobster, and scallops until they are milky white. Cook clams, mussels, and oysters until their shells open and discard any that don’t open.
About fish oil supplements
Some research shown that pregnant women who take fish oil supplements might improve their children’s hand-eye coordination and other research doesn’t support the link at all. So more studies are needed before fish oil supplements is recommended to take regularly during pregnancy.
Other ways to get omega-3 fatty acids
You can also get omega-3 fatty acids on flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil, ground flaxseed, and walnuts.
The bottom line
It is safe to to eat fish that contains low level in mercury as long as it is on the average amount. And the omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna and salmon is important to promote healthy cognitive development. And you must avoid fish that are high in mercury and contaminated in pollutant.