Should I eat fish when I’m pregnant?

Fish and shellfish can be part of a healthy diet. They are a great source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. But almost all fish and shellfish contain a harmful substance called mercury.

Mercury mainly gets into our bodies by the fish we eat. Only high levels of this metal seem to be harmful to developing babies. So the risk of mercury in fish and shellfish depends on the amount and type you eat.

By following some tips you can get the healthy protein and omega-3 fatty acids in fish and avoid mercury. Use these guidelines:

  • Do NOT eat any shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish (also called golden or white snapper) because these fish have high levels of mercury.
  • Do not eat more than six ounces of “white” or “albacore” tuna or tuna steak each week.
  • Do not eat more than 2 servings or 12 ounces total of fish per week.
  • Choose shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, or “light” tuna as they contain less mercury.

Check out the Fish Facts Print and Go Guide for handy tips on eating fish while pregnant. And visit the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for more information on how much mercury is in different kinds of fish.