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Pregnant women should avoid tuna

  • Published at 03:30 pm October 3rd, 2014

In a new review of seafood safety, pregnant women have been advised to avoid eating tuna due to concerns about mercury exposure. The researchers where particularly concerned about canned tuna, which is second only to shrimp as the most commonly eaten seafood in the United States.

Now pregnant women are encouraged to avoid all tuna. While pregnant women and children are at greatest risk from mercury in seafood, anyone can be at risk if they eat too much seafood with high mercury levels. Adults who eat 24 ounces (1.5 pounds) or more of seafood per week should also avoid seafood with high mercury levels, including sushi made with tuna.

On the other hand, there are nearly 20 types of seafood that people — even pregnant women and children — can eat several times a week without worrying about mercury exposure.

While fish and other seafood contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients, many people are concerned that these foods contain high levels of mercury, which can damage the brain and nervous system. According to US Food and Drug Administration, seafood with the lowest mercury levels include wild salmon, scallops, shrimp (most wild and US farmed) and tilapia. Other seafood with low-mercury levels include catfish, crab, trout, flounder and sole (flatfish). Newly updated guidelines from the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency say that women of childbearing age and young children should not eat the four types of fish with the highest mercury levels: swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico. But the magazine’s experts say women should avoid the popular item altogether because of FDA data showing that some canned tuna may have higher mercury levels than once thought.

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