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Eating Fish During Pregnancy

Are there some types of fish that pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid?
(July 26, 2011)

Is mackerel or tilapia fish good for pregnant women?

While mackerel for pregnant women is not considered safe at all, tilapia is regarded as safe for pregnant women. Most fish are rich in high quality proteins, crucial minerals,vitamins A and D, and omega 3 fatty acids. At the same time, all types of fish contain certain levels of mercury as well. Mercury, as you might know, can be very dangerous for pregnant women as well as for the fetus.

So, when it comes to mackerel and tilapia fish,while mackerel contains high levels of mercury, tilapia fish is a low mercury fish, and thus, mackerel should be avoided, and tilapia maybe consumed.

In fact, all doctors strictly prohibit the intake of mackerel fish during pregnancy. As far as the intake of essential minerals, proteins, and crucial omega 3 fatty acids is concerned, most health care providers recommend other safe supplements such as pumpkins and flaxseeds instead of fish.

However, if you really do want to eat fish, opt for low mercury fish like tilapia. Eating tilapia fish during pregnancy is not considered harmful.
Nonetheless, when it comes to eating fish during pregnancy, it is always best to consult your doctor as some fish can be extremely harmful for the developing fetus.
Submitted by N on July 26, 2011 at 06:08


Is fish oil safe during pregnancy?

Some people think that fish oil benefits pregnancy due to the omega 3 fatty acids found in it. However, despite being rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D, intake of fish oil during pregnancy is not considered safe. This is because the harmful toxins that are found in some fish and in fish oil may not have been completely removed during the processing. Another reason for not consuming fish oil during pregnancy is that the fish oil may result in the thinning of the blood, which may lead to bleeding and miscarriages.

Usually, doctors do not allow the consumption of fish oil supplements in the first trimester of pregnancy as this is the most sensitive and critical period. It is this period when the formation of your baby’s body begins. The presence of toxins at this stage can adversely affect the health of the baby. If you are pregnant and your health care provider decides to administer you small doses of fish oil during pregnancy,so that you can benefit from the omega 3 fatty acids,which are crucial for the health and brain development of your baby, seek his advice regarding the brand that you should buy. There are some brands available from which the toxins have been removed to a great extent.
Submitted by N on July 21, 2011 at 06:07


Are fish sticks safe to eat during pregnancy?

Eating the dishes made from fish during pregnancy is usually not considered safe due to the risk of presence of bacteria known as listeria. However, you can eat certain fish products if these are properly cooked, or if they are made from canned fish products. Fish sticks are no exception. In fact,some doctors think it advisable to eat fish since it contains a number of necessary minerals, good quality proteins, vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. Regardless, the presence of listeria keeps many women away from fish during their pregnancy.

Another issue that one has to deal with when eating fish is that of mercury. There are certain fishes that contain high levels of mercury such as swordfish, marlin, and shark,and these should be avoided as mercury can result in serious complications. While there is no connection between eating fish sticks and pregnancy, you need to make sure you choose the right fish to make your fish sticks. Usually, fish sticks are made from fish that contain low levels of mercury. So to answer your question “is eating fish sticks safe during pregnancy,” yes, you can eat fish sticks in pregnancy, but only you are sure that they are well cooked and not made from the fish that contain high quantities of mercury.
Submitted by N on July 16, 2011 at 06:06


Can I eat smoked fish during pregnancy?

It is better to avoid eating smoked fish during pregnancy. Although smoked fish is rich in vitamin A, vitamin B complex, proteins and several essential minerals such as copper, magnesium, iron, selenium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc, there are certain reasons due to which most doctors do not recommend smoked fish for pregnant women.The reasons for avoiding smoked fish in pregnancy are as mentioned below:
  • Smoked fish may contain a bacteria referred to as listeria, which may result into a disease known as listeriosis. Listeriosis is a condition that can seriously affect the health of a pregnant woman.
  • Smoked sea foods contain additional quantities of salt. Excessive intake of salt can result in high blood pressure, which could be dangerous during pregnancy.
  • Since the immune system during pregnancy is suppressed, other microorganisms present in smoked seafood may cause infections that could adversely affect the health of mother and the baby.
From the above mentioned points, it is evident why most health care providers do not advise smoked fish for pregnant women. However, some doctors may allow canned smoked fish for pregnant women as there is minimum risk of the presence of listeria in such canned products. Still, it is better to avoid smoked fish during pregnancy.
Submitted by N on July 11, 2011 at 06:05


Most types of fish may be eaten during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Fish is a healthy addition to the diet as it contains valuable nutrients such as vitamin D, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Eating fish is also beneficial to the health and growth of the baby. However, there are certain types of fish that must be avoided and certain other types of fish that must be eaten in moderation.

Women that are planning a pregnancy or are already pregnant are advised to stay away from swordfish, marlin and shark. The intake of tuna must also be limited. This is because these types of fish have a higher content of mercury in them. This mercury is not harmful for most individuals. But if consumed in high amounts during pregnancy, it could have an adverse effect on the still developing nervous system of the infant. Mercury is naturally present in the environment and is released during the process of manufacturing or due to volcanic eruptions. Fish absorb this mercury as they feed in the water. The toxin remains in the tissues and muscles of the fish and does not get altered in any manner during food preparation. Fetuses are very much at risk when exposed to large amounts of mercury. The mercury is able to penetrate the placenta easily and reach the fetus. Consumption of these types of fish does not have to be avoided or limited during breastfeeding. During pregnancy, women should also avoid eating more than a 2 portions of oily fish in a week. Oily fish include mackerel, herring, trout and salmon. There may be pollutants like dioxins contained in these fish. Tuna is also an oily fish and hence if tuna is consumed in a week, no other oily fish should be eaten. Tuna that comes in tins is not categorized as an oily fish and hence this may be eaten. White fish may be eaten normally when pregnant or when trying to get pregnant.

During pregnancy, all foods that are eaten in moderation will be safe for the unborn baby. Therefore fish may be eaten in moderation and those fish that contain high amounts of mercury must be avoided. It is also advisable to change the type of fish that you consume as one type may contain higher levels of mercury. Eating those types of fish that are considered safe during pregnancy is very beneficial for the health of the mother and baby.

Submitted by C N on April 15, 2011 at 01:50


Breastfeeding and pregnant women can eat most types of fish. Fish is good for their health and for the baby’s development. Fish and shellfish are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, high quality protein and are low in saturated fat. A balanced diet that contains fish and shellfish helps in children’s proper growth and development. However, all fish contain small amounts of mercury. Some fish contain higher amounts than others. Breastfeeding and pregnant women should be extremely careful about the amounts and the kinds of fish they eat. The high levels of mercury are harmful for a baby’s developing nervous system.

Keep the following in mind if you are nursing or expecting:-

  1. Avoid swordfish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, or tilefish as they contain high levels of mercury.
  2. Eat up to 12 ounces of other shellfish and fish.
  3. Mix up the types of fish and shellfish that you eat.
  4. Do not eat the same kind of shellfish or fish more than once a week. 
  5. Follow the advice given by local advisories about fish caught by family and friends in local streams and rivers. If no advice is available, you can eat up to 6 ounces a week (one meal) of fish caught in local rivers. It is best to avoid any other fish that week. 
  6. It is ok to eat sushi or other dishes made with raw fish, as long as the fish used to make it has been frozen first. If you make sushi at home, ensure that the fish is frozen for at least 24 hours before using it. Freezing kills worms and make raw fish safe to eat. Smoked salmon does not need to be frozen beforehand as smoking also kills any larvae in the fish. 
  7. Fish that have the lowest mercury levels are: anchovies, clam, crab, flounder, catfish, haddock, oyster, herring, mullet, salmon, and sardine, pollock, perch, shrimp, sole, scallop, sardine, trout, whitefish, squid and tilapia. 2 servings a week of these kinds would be fine.
  8. Moderate mercury levels are found in bass, halibut, cod, carp, monkfish, perch, snapper, mahi mahi and canned tuna. High mercury levels are found in sea bass, bluefish, grouper, canned albacore and yellowfin (tuna). Avoid these kinds of fish as far as possible.

Do remember that fish is good for the mother’s health and the baby’s development and should be eaten in moderation, by following the guidelines above and after consultation with a personal physician.
Submitted by E L on May 11, 2010 at 12:09


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