Posted by MRK on 4th December 2012

Is Halibut Safe To Eat During Pregnancy? What Fish To Avoid?

Halibut is a tasty fish that is by far the largest of all flatfish. Its steamed or boiled form in cooking may reduce common heart arrhythmia due to its antioxidant properties. It also contains Omega 3 fatty acids but is it safe to be had during pregnancy?

Fish is nutritious and contain essential vitamins and minerals however some fish may also have high levels of mercury in them, which could lead to adverse effects on the nervous system and brain development. Mercury is a natural element that is found in water, air, and food.

People are most exposed to it from food.  Fish have above normal mercury levels as they get it from oceans and streams when feeding. The mercury found in fish is in its more toxic form called methyl-mercury form. Mercury is transformed into methyl-mercury by microorganisms in water bodies, which is then absorbed by fish through their skin and gills, and through what they feed on.

Mercury levels do vary from fish to fish, the location, diet, age, and the habitat of the fish. Large fish that are on top on the food chain are said to contain more mercury than smaller fish.

Is It Safe To Eat Halibut During Pregnancy?

Pregnant women and developing fetuses are at highest risk of negative health effects due to ingesting mercury from fish. Studies have shown that mothers who consumed significant amounts of fish with high mercury levels, had children with developmental problems.

Halibut is considered to be a fish with low mercury levels however pregnant women are advised to eat not more than one serving of this fish per week. Larger halibuts have higher levels of mercury so it is better to opt for smaller and younger halibuts. It is also important that halibut be checked before purchase, do not buy this fish if it has a chalky or dull appearance, or has ripped fins and/or yellow spotting.

Research shows that about 16 percent of pregnant American women of child-bearing age have high levels of mercury in their blood which could pose as a potential health hazard to their fetuses. Some symptoms of high mercury are headache, decrease in memory, fatigue, and joint pain.

What Fish To Avoid During Pregnancy?

Some fish which have high levels of mercury and not considered safe for consumption when pregnant are:

  • King mackerels.
  • Shark.
  • Bigeye and Ahi tuna.
  • Tilefish.
  • Swordfish.
  • Orange roughy.
  • Marlin.

Methyl-mercury consumed by women only pose a problem to the baby when it is in the womb. Mercury levels in the mother’s level do not seem to affect an infant through breastfeeding. But women planning to get pregnant should avoid eating fish with high levels of mercury as the body takes a lot of time to get rid of the mercury gathered in the body.

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