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What are some of the best types of fish to give our little ones?

Question: 

Heather asked "I was hoping to get some guidance on what are some of the best types of fish to give our little ones."

Answer: 

We all want our little ones to have the benefits from fish; omega 3 fatty acids, brain loving DHA and EPA. The problem is, which fish are safe? 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) shares a list of both safe and unsafe fish to consume when pregnant. These recommendations for fish safety would apply for kids as well. According to the EWG, government studies have shown that one in every six pregnant women in the U.S. will give birth to a baby whose blood is contaminated with mercury levels above the federal safety standard. 

They evaluated mercury tests from seven government programs and published this list to help expecting parents choose safer seafood during pregnancy.

Lowest in Mercury

  • Blue crab (Mid-Atlantic)
  • Croaker
  • Fish Sticks
  • Flounder (summer)
  • Haddock
  • Trout (farmed)
  • Salmon (wild Pacific)
  • Shrimp

Avoid if Pregnant

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna Steaks
  • Canned tuna
  • Sea bass
  • Gulf Coast oysters
  • Marlin
  • Halibut
  • Pike
  • Walleye
  • White croaker
  • Largemouth bass

For more information, check out these two helpful resources:

Environmental Working Group's Fish List

Eating Fish: What You Need to Know

If you're looking for information when you're on the go (ex: at a restaurant), there is a great App called "Smells Fishy" which steers you away from harmful choices and towards the better ones. 

Why Eat Fish?

Our brain is made out of omega-3 fats and other phospholipids, found in fatty fish (like wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel), as well as eggs and lecithin. These nutrients are the raw materials your baby requires to build a healthy brain. In fact, the level of Omega 3's found in the umbilical cord at birth predicts the speed of a child's thinking at age 8! Thats how critical it is to get optimal levels of Omega 3's while pregnant.

More on Mercury

Multiple studies have demonstrated that the type of mercury found in seafood (methylmercury), is dangerously toxic to a number of organs and tissues. This is especially true of the developing brain of fetuses and newborns. As a result, recent alerts have been issued by regulatory agencies and physician groups, suggesting that women who are pregnant should avoid eating those fish that are known to have high mercury levels.

Mercury "bioaccumulates" in sea life. Therefore, the older, larger predatory fish contain higher amounts of mercury; big fish eat the little fish, concentrating the amount of mercury in their tissues. 

Bottom Line

Fish (including fish eggs) and seafood is an excellent food to include in your (and your little one's) diet regularly. It is by far the best source of brain loving DHA and EPA. Because of increased toxins, it is of utmost importance that mothers make informed decisions about the type and amount of fish they are consuming and providing to their little one.

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