Fish and seafood consumption advice for pregnant or nursing women*

Frequently Asked Questions

Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, are essential for a child’s brain and eye development. You can think of DHA for the brain like calcium is for bones.

Most fish provide key nutrients that support healthy development for babies and children. Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, iron, iodine, and choline support brain development. Fish also are a good source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and selenium. The nutritional values are slightly different depending on the type of fish and what that fish ate throughout its life. The best fish to eat when pregnant or breastfeeding and for young children are fish containing high levels of the essential nutrient omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, trout, lake whitefish and sardines. Any fish list on the Best Choices and Lowest Mercury lists are good types of fish to eat as part of healthy eating pattern.

Health experts and scientists who have looked at the risks of eating fish versus the benefits have concluded that eating a variety of different types of fish and shellfish is better than not eating seafood at all. Seafood is a protein source that contains healthy fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It is because of all the nutrients in fish and shellfish that seafood is referred to as a nutrient dense protein.

You may also be wondering why many health experts recommend eating seafood when pregnant whereas a decade or more ago it was often advised against. Significant amounts of research has been done to look into the development and health benefits of eating seafood and the risks. One critical factor is that fish, shellfish and marine algae are the only natural food sources of DHA. DHA has been identified as the omega 3 fatty acid that is essential for healthy brain and eye development. The human body can make small amounts of DHA, but not enough to provide the brain with what it needs. Because of this, health experts may recommend supplements with algal DHA for individuals who do not like, or do not trust, eating seafood.

Skip to content