We know that fish is very nutritious and packed with great nutrients such as omega-3, the B vitamins, and lean protein. Unfortunately, though, fish can also have some unhealthy contaminants. Mercury levels in fish probably present the greatest concern.
Mercury is a contaminant found in fish that can affect brain development and the nervous system. The FDA has guidelines for children, women who are pregnant, and women who are trying to become pregnant. These guidelines state you should consume no more than 12 ounces of low-mercury fish weekly. Avoid highest-level-mercury fish and keep high-level-mercury fish to only three six-ounce servings per month.
What does this mean for women who are pregnant but also trying to get some of their much-needed nutrients from the critters of the sea? It’s all about moderation. Recent information found in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that no one should eliminate fish out of the diet altogether. Fish contains too many healthy nutrients that are essential for growth and development, especially in a pregnant mom or baby. You should avoid four types of fish due to mercury levels. These include shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish.
For information regarding other types of fish, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has a list of fish and their mercury levels so that people can know what they’re consuming. If you want to get more detailed information about mercury levels and how much you personally consume, you can also use the mercury thermometer to calculate your totals.
Mercury Levels in Fish
- Orange roughy
- Mackerel (king)
- Tuna (bigeye, Ahi)
Eat no more than three six-ounce servings per month.
- Sea Bass (Chilean)
- Mackeral (Spanish, Gulf)
- Tuna (canned, white albacore) See tuna chart below
- Tuna (Yellowfin)
Eat no more than six six-ounce servings per month.
- Bass (striped, black)
- Cod (Alaskan)
- Croaker (White Pacific)
- Halibut (Pacific and Atlantic), Jack smelt (Silverside)
- Mahi Mahi
- Perch (freshwater)
- Sea trout (weakfish)
- Tuna (canned, chunk light)
- Tuna (skipjack)
Enjoy two six-ounce servings per week.
- Crab (Domestic)
- Mackeral (North Atlantic, Chub)
- Perch (Ocean)
- Salmon (Canned, Fresh)
- Shad (American)
- Squid (Calamari)
- Trout (Freshwater)
(Chart from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC); Data obtained by the FDA and the EPA)
Tuna mercury levels can differ based on the type of tuna and where it was caught. The NRDC created the chart below as a guideline to how much tuna children, pregnant women or women wanting to conceive can eat, based on their weight.
|Weight in Pounds||Frequency|
|White Albacore||Chunk Light|
|20 lbs||1 Can/10 Weeks||1 Can/3 Weeks|
|30 lbs||1 Can/6 Weeks||1 Can/2 Weeks|
|40 lbs||1 Can/5 Weeks||1 Can/11 Days|
|50 lbs||1 Can/4 Weeks||1 Can/9 Days|
|60 lbs||1 Can/3 Weeks||1 Can/7 Days|
|70 lbs||1 Can/3 Weeks||1 Can/6 Days|
|80 lbs||1 Can/2 Weeks||1 Can/ 6 Days|
|90 lbs||1 can/2 Weeks||1 Can/5 Days|
|100 lbs||1 Can/2 Weeks||1 Can/5 Days|
|110 lbs||1 Can/12 Days||1 Can/4 Days|
|120 lbs||1 Can/11 Days||1 Can/4 Days|
|130 lbs||1 Can/10 Days||1 Can/4 Days|
|140 lbs||1 Can/10 Days||1 Can/3 Days|
|150 lbs +||1 Can/9 Days||1 Can/3 Days|
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