Seafood in Pregnancy- What's a Momma to do?
I love when a homework assignment lends itself well to being a blog post as well- then I get to share what I'm learning with you!
Seafood has almost become taboo during pregnancy- don't eat raw seafood, no sushi, watch out for mercury... and on and on. While these are valid concerns, they must also be weighed against the benefits.
Fish are the best source of essential fatty acids that are even more "essential" for a developing baby. So how, then, does a mom-to-be handle this conundrum?
Here are a few tips:
1. Don't eat it raw! This one is true, just not worth the risk for your favorite sushi. It can wait until your baby is born and healthy.
2. Watch your mercury intake. Some fish are much higher than others. A calculator such as the fun one at https://seaturtles.org/programs/mercury/ (Links to an external site.) makes it easy to see how your favorite fish rates. Make sure that you are staying well under that 100%, the lower the better.
3. Mix it up! Another way to make sure you aren't building up mercury or other potential toxins is to eat a variety instead of the same one all the time. This lowers your toxin load from whatever is potentially higher in that one source (still sticking to ones from tip 2, of course) but it also provides a greater variety of nutrients.
4. Source well. Once you know which kinds of fish you want that have lower mercury, make sure you are buying from a reputable fish monger. If you live somewhere coastal that has a seafood industry, this can be fairly easy to find. Otherwise, some chains such as Whole Foods have programs for ensuring quality. Also, make sure you aren't buying farmed fish, especially during pregnancy.
Here are some additional resources for making sure you are getting healthy, safe sustainable fish. Downloadable Good Fish Guide
Now go enjoy that healthy fish safely! References:
Moreno MA, Furtner F, Rivara FP. (2012) Exposure to Mercury and Consumption of Fish During Pregnancy: A Confusing Picture. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(12):1188. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.928
Tam, C., Erebara, A., & Einarson, A. (2010). Food-borne illnesses during pregnancy: Prevention and treatment. Canadian Family Physician, 56(4), 341–343.