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FDA to Update Fish Consumption Advisory for Pregnant Women

For Related Articles and More Information, Please Visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center Page and our Health Issues Page.

Fish has always been the best source for the animal-based omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

However, as the understanding of mercury's toxic effects has grown, it has become even more critical to ensure you are choosing the right fish so you can receive the benefits of the healthful fats that many low mercury fish provide, as explained recently by a leading expert from Harvard Medical School.1

The question of which fish you should eat and avoid is receiving renewed attention, as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stand poised to update the national advisory for fish consumption for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women of childbearing age, and young children.2

While the Agencies have yet to announce what the new advice will say, or when the updated advisory might be made public, the prospect of new recommendations have already unleashed a public relations fight.

40 Tons of Mercury Are Released Into the Air in the US Every Year

Let's first understand how mercury winds up in our fish and seafood. It all circles back primarily to how most energy in the world is generated. Sadly, even in the 21st century the majority of U.S. man-made emissions are released from burning coal laced with mercury.

Combustion in power plants of coal containing mercury is a major source of environmental pollution. Mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants and other sources moves through the air and is deposited in water and finds its way into fish, accumulating especially in fish that are higher up the food chain.

The good news is that about 70 percent of tested  wild caught fish consumed in the US contain relatively low levels of mercury.3 However, fish like tuna, marlin, shark, barracuda, and swordfish have some of the highest levels of contamination.

This is due to the fact that the oceans and thousands of water bodies have been seriously polluted. As a result, pregnant women who should be especially careful to consume the right types of fish.  It is quite certain that consuming fish is a crucial part of your diet, but you should be sure to optimize with the right kinds of fish - to receive maximum benefits with minimal mercury exposure.      


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