Q: I have read that I shouldn't eat fish while I was pregnant. I love to eat fish. Are there any fish that are good to eat when pregnant?
A: Fish is an excellent source of major nutrients that are essential for your health and the health of your baby. The fish that it's advised to avoid are shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.
A couple of years ago the FDA was revisiting previous recommendations on which fish to avoid and there was quite the conversation about tilefish. It turns out tilefish from one ocean is OK but not from another ocean.
The decision was to do an across the board recommendation to avoid all tilefish as one doesn't always know in which ocean the fish was caught.
Actually it is recommended that everyone, including pregnant women, eat seafood two to three times a week. It is also recommended that it be a variety of fish.
I know a lot of women who crave tuna when they are pregnant. The present recommendation is that half a can, or 6 ounces, of tuna is good for you and your baby.
Fish is good for you because it contains nutrients such as Omega-3 DHA, calcium and iron.
The omega-3 DHA is a special fat that is good for your heart, brain and eyes. When something is good for you, it is also good for the baby that is growing inside of you.
There is a vitamin that pregnant women can buy that has DHA in it for those women that do not eat fish.
It is believed that with sufficient DHA the mother has less of a chance of going into preterm labor. Some researchers are investigating if increased Omega-3 DHA may help a woman avoid depression both during and after a pregnancy.
Calcium is important for our bones, teeth, heart, nerves and muscles. Again, if it is good for you it is good for your baby.
Besides fish, calcium is also available in yogurt, cheese, milk, spinach and kale. Canned sardines and salmon are very high in calcium.
Vitamin D, which helps our body absorb calcium, is actually a hormone that our bodies make when exposed to sunlight as well as from some foods. Salmon, tuna and shrimp are considered good sources of Vitamin D, as are fortified foods like milk and orange juice.
We are fortunate to live in Florida where Vitamin D is in abundance. Just a few minutes of sun exposure will help your body make Vitamin D.
On the other hand, we also need sunscreen to protect our skin from skin cancer, so finding that balance can be tricky.
Iron helps carry oxygen in our bloodstream. Throughout the pregnancy, your blood will be tested for iron.
The foods that are high in iron are not only seafood, but also turkey, beef and chicken, as well as red beans.
It is a general recommendation that you avoid any raw fish or meat during pregnancy. It is not worth the risk of an infection that would also affect your baby. If you are craving sushi, stick to cooked types.
The old adage "you are what you eat" applies especially during pregnancy. Our food is our fuel for our own health and for the health of our babies.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital's Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Healthy Living. Contact her at email@example.com.