Recently, the FDA and EPA released new advice about how to safely eat seafood if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
Unfortunately, fish and shellfish have gotten a bad rap when it comes to preconception and prenatal nutrition. While it's true that some kinds are high in mercury, it's equally true that fish and shellfish are bursting at the seams with health benefits.
Many women have chosen to or been advised to completely forgo seafood to avoid being exposed to too much mercury. Fortunately, you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. You can avoid high levels of mercury and eat fish, too.
Health Benefits of Fish and Shellfish
Fish and shellfish have omega 3s for heart health and beautiful skin, B vitamins for ample energy and healthy blood cells, and protein for muscle development and to keep us full and satisfied longer. Those all sound like good things to me. And that's not all.
Each kind has different nutrients. Some are good or excellent sources of zinc for wound healing and healthy hair, vitamin D for strong bones and a healthy immune system, and selenium for thyroid and reproductive health.
Dangers of Too Much Mercury
With all of that being said, mercury toxicity is a very real concern. Mercury is a neurotoxin, meaning it can harm our nervous system. Not exactly a good thing, especially during early development. High levels have also been linked to an increased risk of infertility.
The key to reaping the benefits without the icky drawbacks is to eat the ones that have low and moderate amounts of mercury. This is especially true for women of childbearing age, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and young children. People in these groups should steer completely clear of fish and seafood that have high levels of mercury.
Don't forget, pregnant women and young children should also avoid undercooked or raw fish and shellfish. Sorry, no sashimi for you.
Use the simple infographic above to determine which fish and shellfish are best for you. And remember, a single serving of seafood for an adult is 4 ounces or about the size of the palm of your hand. It's half that amount for a child. You can also, check out the FDA and EPA link in the first line of this post. You'll find another easy to follow printable guide you can use when choosing seafood.