Which seafood is safe to eat? Which seafood has the most Omega-3 fats? Can I eat seafood while pregnant? Plus the EWG calculator link

fishySeafood is both a vital and important source of the essential Omega-3 fatty acids that we need for good brain development and function, as well as our immune function BUT also a major source of mercury and pesticide exposure.  How do you know how much you can safely eat?  Well how much you can safely eat depends on your age, your gender, body weight, and whether or not you are pregnant.  While it is during pregnancy that it is especially important that you get enough Omega-3 fatty acids, it is also even more important that you not ingest toxins like mercury that are very high in fish and seafood.  

In general, Alaska salmon, trout, steelhead, mussels and Atlantic mackerel have the highest Omega-3, with relatively low amounts of mercury, and sardines and pollock/imitation crab are intermediate in Omega-3 content but still relatively low in mercury content.  Other seafood relatively low in mercury but also low in Omega-3 are:

  1. Shrimp
  2. Tilapia
  3. Catfish
  4. Scallops
  5. Pangasius (swai, basa, or tra)
  6. Clams


 Avoid these other seafood highest in mercury completely during pregnancy and nursing and for young children:

  1. Tuna
  2. Sole
  3. Flounder
  4. Plaice

The worst of all for mercury should also be avoided:

  1. Shark
  2. Swordfish
  3. Orange Roughy

In general, the larger the fish the greater the mercury content.  Also, farm raised seafood is likely to have a higher pesticide content. 

The environmental working group has developed a wonderful tool. Just plug in your age, gender, and weight. You can use the EWG calculator for which fish and seafood to eat and which to avoid during nursing. 

Try the tool here…

My recommendation for pregnancy is little to no fish.  Take Omega-3  supplements (purified fish oil or flax and walnuts, etc.). When using non-DHA vegetarian sources of Omega-3, the body must convert it to DHA and it can require 10 times as much, so be generous with your flax and walnut servings. It is just not worth exposing your developing baby to high levels of mercury and pesticides during pregnancy.  Breastfeeding is a different story.  Your infant can handle slight increases in breast milk content of toxins so much better than an exposure in the womb that comes directly from increased blood levels. 

Remember, in addition to Omega-3 supplements, almost all of us need extra vitamin D and during pregnancy this is critical. Take 4-5000 IU daily of Vitamin D3 while pregnant. 

Dr. Paul




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