Low Mercury Fish and a Healthy Pregnancy

The benefits of a diet featuring low mercury fish (in moderation) are numerous.

Fish low in mercury contains essential nutrients, such as iron and protein, and is low in saturated fat.

Low mercury fish are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids promote brain development and may also reduce the risk of heart disease.

The amount of mercury in fish during pregnancy should be of particular concern. High levels of mercury in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream could greatly impede the development of a healthy fetus. Therefore, it’s crucial that pregnant women are well-informed about mercury in fish.

Now, let’s visit some concerns expectant mothers may have regarding mercury levels in fish.

Are there certain types of fish which contain high levels of mercury?

Yes, there are. One trait fish on the high mercury list have in common is that they tend to be of the larger, predatory variety. Species such as shark, marlin, sea bass, swordfish, and bigeye tuna (Ahi) are a few examples.

Can I ever eat fish high in mercury?

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these fish should be avoided by pregnant women.

I’m not pregnant but I plan to be soon. Should I be concerned about the mercury content in fish?

Yes. Mercury accumulates in the bloodstream over time and it could take a year or more for levels in the body to drop noticeably.

Are there high amounts of mercury in tuna?

A January 2011 Consumer Reports Magazine study revealed some disturbing information about canned tuna. One serving of canned white tuna or two servings of canned light tuna contained more than the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisable weekly limit for pregnant mothers. A serving is 2.5 ounces, and most 5 oz. cans of tuna have roughly 4 oz. of tuna meat. So, it’s safe to say canned light tuna should be eaten in extreme moderation. It’s probably best to avoid canned white tuna altogether.

What are some types of fish with low mercury content?

The low mercury fish list includes salmon, tilapia, herring, catfish, and whitefish. Most mollusks and crustaceans, such as oysters, crab, crawfish, and shrimp are low in mercury too.

What if I’ve already had my baby.

Are fish mercury levels still important to monitor?

Yes, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Children up to the age of five should only eat fish with low mercury levels. They should adhere to intake guidelines similar to those for pregnant women.

Now we’ve answered some basic questions about mercury in seafood. Again, it’s important for pregnant women to understand the health risks involved with mercury content in fish. Doing so will promote a healthier pregnancy for mother and child.

*This article was written by guest author, Gregg Mumma.

Image: Craftyjoe

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  1. Jeni Pearson says:

    Very informative article!! As an OB nurse and childbirth educator these are the types of articles moms have interest in. The article was easy to read and very informative!!!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jeni. Glad you liked the post. Have a great day.