Fish for Pregnant Women

Are you Pregnant - Eating fish is good for you !

Expectant mothers should eat two portions of fish a week to reduce the risk of their children developing brain disorders, say experts.

Recent research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids, also known as docosahexaenoic acid, found in fish, is essential for the brain to function properly.

Fish consumption among women of child bearing age in Britain is currently restricted due to concerns about the presence of potentially harmful contaminants.

"The Food Standards Agency issued advice to pregnant women about fish in 2004 which was ultra conservative. Since then, there has been research which indicates that women who have eaten more fish than those recommendations suffer no harm but their child's brain performance improved," quoted Jack Winkler, director of the Nutrition Policy Unit at London Metropolitan University as saying.

Another study by Robert McNamara, from the department of psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, found that boys aged between eight and 10 who were given additional docosahexaenoic acid had increased brain activity in attention tasks than those given placebos, an inert medicine that makes people feel better psychologically.

Fish is a valuable source of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and various vitamins and minerals. However, when it comes to pregnant women, there are recommendations and considerations regarding the types and amounts of fish that are safe to consume due to concerns about mercury and other contaminants.

Safe Fish Choices for Pregnant Women:

  • Low-Mercury Fish: Opt for fish that are low in mercury, which is a neurotoxin that can harm the developing nervous system of the fetus.
  1. Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury.
  2. Trout: A low-mercury fish that is high in protein and omega-3s.
  3. Sardines: High in omega-3s and calcium, with low mercury levels.
  4. Anchovies: Low in mercury and a good source of omega-3s.

Fish to Limit or Avoid During Pregnancy:

  • High-Mercury Fish: Certain types of fish are higher in mercury and should be limited or avoided during pregnancy.
  1. Swordfish: Contains high levels of mercury and should be avoided during pregnancy.
  2. Shark: High in mercury and best avoided during pregnancy.
  3. King Mackerel: High in mercury and should be limited or avoided.

Recommendations for Consuming Fish During Pregnancy:

  • Moderation: Consume a variety of fish while ensuring moderation to minimize mercury exposure.
  • Cooking Methods: Opt for cooking methods like baking, grilling, or broiling to minimize exposure to contaminants.
  • Portion Sizes: Stick to recommended portion sizes to reduce mercury exposure.
  • Variety: Rotate between different low-mercury fish to benefit from a range of nutrients.


  • Raw Fish: Avoid raw or undercooked fish due to the risk of bacterial or parasitic infections that could harm the fetus.
  • Local Advisories: Consider local advisories or guidelines regarding fish consumption, especially if caught from local waters, as mercury levels can vary.

It's essential for pregnant women to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet while being mindful of the types and amounts of fish consumed. The omega-3 fatty acids found in certain types of fish can be beneficial for the baby's development, but care should be taken to minimize exposure to mercury and other contaminants that could pose risks to the developing fetus. Consulting a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for personalized recommendations based on individual health status and dietary preferences is advisable.

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