Seafood & Pregnancy : Myths vs Realities

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Pregnancy was tough for me. I read every book and every article about growing and keeping my babies healthy. It was exhausting and frightening. One piece of advice that was popular back then (and still today) is to avoid Mercury by limiting seafood.

When I was pregnant, the recommendation was to avoid shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish and to limit the amount of tuna consumed. I chose not to eat any of those fish and to limit my tuna to a maximum of 1 can of chunk light tuna per week. I had read albacore was risky, and I avoided all other fish because of the PCB risk.

At the same time, Omega-3's were becoming popular and supplements soon popped for pregnant women. I did some digging and found that beef ,eggs, and fish were good sources of Omega-3s and considered myself covered. Little did I know that the corn-fed beef and eggs I was consuming probably weren't providing adequate coverage. I did eat tuna weekly, but I wish I had branched into salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other healthy options as well. I could have safely included albacore too.

It seems I wasn't the only one with a limited seafood diet. It turns out most American women are eschewing fish for fear of Mercury levels during pregnancy; with the whole nation eating less than 1/3 of what's recommended. Some women even go all 9 months without eating any seafood! A new study has linked a lower seafood consumption in pregnancy with depression.  Pregnant women who ate no seafood were 50% more likely to experience depression than women who ate seafood three times per week.

I was sorely lacking in seafood consumption, but did I develop depression? Motherhood has a way of blurring your memory, but if you asked anyone close to me, they'd most likely say yes. Nutrition is so key to our health, and the lack of key nutrients in pregnancy can spill over into the child's development and the mother's health both during and after pregnancy. If I didn't have depression during pregnancy, I definitely had it afterwards. And my diet (and seafood consumption) did not improve until last year when medical reasons made me rethink my food choices.

If you are or have been pregnant, I'm sure you've read the many benefits Omega-3s have on a baby's developing brain as well as the benefits for you. Seafood is an excellent, natural source of Omega-3 Fatty acids, lean protein, calcium, and vitamin D. All important building blocks for a healthy pregnancy (and life.)

Visit to find out how to safely add healthy tuna and other seafood to your diet.
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Margaret said...

Thank you for writing this! It has a lot of information information.

HeartsMakeFamilies said...

Excellent information. Great post.

Anonymous said...

An easy way to estimate your mercury exposure from fish check out the free online mercury
calculator at Based on the current U.S. EPA and FDA guidelines, the mercury calculator is an excellent way to know your potential mercury exposure
risk. You can also use the free mobile mercury calculator for cell phone browsers at

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