I was considering omitting a website article this week. It’s been a tough week… A very good friend died from virulent leukemia. But I am back in the office and seeing patients and yes, I did look at some of the articles. The one that I thought might be of interest was a report by the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency encouraging pregnant women as well as women who may become pregnant or breast-feeding as well as young children to eat more fish.
In their draft guidance, the agencies are calling for women to consume 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of fish that are lower in mercury; that amounts to an average of 2 to 3 servings per week. The fish that have lower mercury levels include salmon, shrimp, pollock, tuna (light canned), tilapia, catfish and cod. The US Department of Agriculture suggests an amount of 3 to 5 ounces per week for children under the age of six and 4 to 6 ounces per week for children age 6 to 8. The agencies feel that there is “long standing evidence of nutritional value of fish in the diet. Fish contain high-quality protein, many vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acid and are mostly low in saturated fat, and some fish even contain vitamin D. The nutritional value of fish is especially important during growth and development before birth, in early infancy for breast-fed infants, and in childhood.”
There have been long standing concerns about the mercury content of fish and as a result the FDA found that 21% of pregnant women consume no fish and 50% are eating fewer than 2 ounces per week. There are some types of fish that the FDA still suggest that women and children avoid: these include tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel. They also recommend limiting white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week for adults and even less for children.
So there you have it…as usual recommendations can be changed. And now those issued by the FDA/EPA in March 2004 have been replaced with a recommendation of simply consuming up to 12 ounces of a variety of fish per week (two average meals) avoiding the four types of fish I listed above because that have a high mercury content.
Hooray for salmon! Now I just have to figure out what gefilte fish is made of…