Fish Consumption During Pregnancy

July 07, 2014

Fish and PregnancyBy Dr. Lisa Watson, ND

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made headlines this month when they released guidelines on how much fish pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume

While previously both the FDA and EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that should be consumed by pregnant women, no minimum has ever been established.

The new recommendations are based on emerging evidence that fish are an abundant source of omega 3 fatty acids, and that these nutrients can have a “positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health” (Stephen Ostroff, MD).

Pregnant and breastfeeding women are now recommended to eat at least 8 ounces, and up to 12 ounces (2-3 servings) per week of varieties of fish that are low in mercury.

Fish that are known to be high in mercury and should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as children are:

  • Tilefish
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Albacore tuna (“white” tuna)
  • Marlin
  • Orange roughy
  • Escolar

Fish that is encouraged due to lower levels of mercury include:

  • Shrimp
  • Pollock
  • Salmon
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Light tuna

Fish oil supplements that are analyzed for mercury levels are also safe for consumption in pregnancy and offer the same benefits as eating fish.

Selected references

FDA Press Release: FDA and EPA issue draft updated advice for fish consumption

Sea Choice: Healthy Recommendations

Health Canada: Mercury in Fish

Health Canada: Fish Consumption Advisories


LwatsonDr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community.  As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.
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