Q: I’m five months pregnant and just read new guidelines that say pregnant women should eat more fish. But there are all these warnings about avoiding some fish because they contain mercury! What’s the solution? — Sally P., Carbondale, Illinois…
A: You must be referring to the new Food and Drug Administration/Environmental Protection Agency guidelines about safely getting enough omega-3 fatty acids while you’re pregnant and breastfeeding, since they’re essential for fetal brain development, a newborn’s vision and continued neurodevelopment. Omega-3s also help Mom by reducing the risk of pre-eclampsia, preterm labor and delivery and postpartum depression.
The guidelines recommend eating 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish a week so you get enough omega-3s. This includes salmon, trout, light tuna, herring, blue mussels, Pacific oysters, whitefish, shrimp, pollock, tilapia, catfish and cod. (If you take in low levels of methyl mercury from fish, they’re eventually processed and excreted from your body.) Fish with higher mercury content (and the ones to avoid) are the bigger fish: marlin, albacore tuna, tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel.
FYI: Atlantic salmon has 2 micrograms of mercury per 4-ounce serving and delivers 1,200-2,400 milligrams of omega-3s! Albacore tuna has 54-58 mcg of mercury and 1,700 mg of omega-3s in a 4-ounce serving.
As for supplements: There’s no definitive recommendation for daily intake of omega-3s for pregnant women or anyone else, but eating 12 ounces of fish a week could deliver 4-6.5 grams; that’s an average of up to 900 mg a day. If you’re taking omega-3 fish-oil supplements, you want to make sure they’re free of toxins. They should be tested for particles per trillion by a third-party lab. We favor algal-oil DHA (fish get their omega-3s from algae), and DHA omega-3 from algae is free of mercury. We take 900 mg a day.
So, talk with your doctor about all your nutritional needs during pregnancy to make sure you’re getting enough omega-3s, plus folic acid and other nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy. And congratulations!
Photo caption: Dr. Mehmet Oz, left, and Dr. Michael Roizen (King Features Syndicate)
View original article at: Drs. Oz and Roizen: Brain power and age; algal omega-3s and pregnancy