If you’re pregnant, you might feel like you need to become a nutrition expert overnight. After all, what you eat and drink — and what you avoid — influences your baby’s development. Some choices are logical, such as eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and eliminating alcohol from your diet. But what about seafood? Is it safe? Are there any precautions you should take?
Seafood can be a great source of protein, iron and zinc — crucial nutrients for your baby’s growth and development. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can promote your baby’s brain development.
But some types of seafood — particularly large, predatory fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish — can contain high levels of mercury. Although the mercury in seafood isn’t a concern for most adults, special precautions apply if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. If you regularly eat fish high in mercury, the substance can accumulate in your bloodstream over time. In turn, too much mercury in your bloodstream could damage your baby’s developing brain and nervous system.
So what is Safe?
Eat a variety of seafood that’s low in mercury and high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as:
- Atlantic and Pacific mackerel
Other safe choices include shrimp, pollock and catfish.
Beyond seafood, other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Foods. Flaxseed — ground seeds or oil — canola oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and soybeans (edamame) are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fortified foods. Yogurt, milk and eggs can be fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Supplements. Supplements typically contain fish oil or omega-3 fatty acids from marine plant sources. Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement.
Remember, the content of mercury in your fish is what matters and you must choose seafoods with low level mercury!
(Research adopted from Mayo Clinic)