Fish is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. During pregnancy be aware of the following advisory from the Food & Drug Administration: What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish & Shellfish. (1)
- Due to high levels of mercury, do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel or Tilefish.
- Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Common low mercury seafood include: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
- Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (white) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.
- Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week. Often local fish advisories are in the guide given where fishing licenses are purchased. Ask for one.
Follow these same recommendations during breastfeeding or when feeding fish and shellfish to your young child, but serve smaller portions to children.
Other ways to reduce exposure to toxins in fish is how you prepare it. Bake or broil fish, avoid frying. Toxins are usually stored in the fatty layer of the fish, so if the fat drips away as it is being cooked it will decrease the amount in the serving. Also, eating smaller fish can help, the larger the fish the more exposure to toxins it has had over its lifetime.
Food & Drug Administration: What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish & Shellfish, Accessed Sept 12, 2015, Available at http://www.fda.gov/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/buystoreservesafefood/ucm110591.htm
Note: these recommendations are from 2004 and are currently being updated.