Tuna During Pregnancy – Is It Safe?

7 min read

Tuna During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a phase where you must focus on eating healthy and scouring the best nutrient sources that guarantee a healthy pregnancy. Tuna is a rich nutrient food and for this reason, it is good to consume tuna during pregnancy. This fish is prized for its docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (Epa) contents. These are primarily two long-chain omega-3 fat-based particles, which will play a significant role in developing your baby’s nervous system and brain.

Yet, tuna is also high in mercury that can play havoc with the proper growth of the baby you are carrying. As a result, consuming tuna when pregnant may be detrimental. So, that brings us to the question of whether or not you can consume tuna fish when you are pregnant. In this article, we explain everything you need to know.

In This Article

Can You Eat Tuna Fish During Pregnancy?

You can safely eat tuna during pregnancy due to its nutritive value. However, tuna, like any other seafood, can contain high amounts of mercury, a metal that may prove harmful to the foetus. For this reason, doctors and medical experts advise limiting the intake of tuna to ensure that you do not suffer the consequences of excess tuna consumption. US FDA and EPA have stated that eating a limited quantity of tuna is highly beneficial for fetal development. Moderate consumption of tuna can be good for you. You can speak to your gynecologist or nutritionist to understand how much tuna fish you can safely consume when pregnant.

How Much Tuna Can Pregnant Women Eat?

Pregnant woman eating tuna

This can be the difficult part. While we know moderate consumption is ideal, figuring out what amounts to moderate can be difficult. For your benefit, we list the ideal consumption levels for different tuna fish.

Different Tuna Fish consumption levels
Canned or the Light Tuna or Skipjack You can have this form around 12 ounces per week.
Yellowfin or Albacore Tuna You can have it around 4 ounces every week.
Big-Eye Tuna Always advised avoiding from the time you learn you are pregnant.

Top 5 Benefits of Having Tuna During Pregnancy

Benefits of eating tuna during pregnancy

Tuna is rich in various nutrients that benefit both you and your growing baby. Let us learn the top five benefits of eating tuna when you are pregnant.

1. Helps With Proper Growth of the Fetus

Protein is vital for the growth of your baby inside. Eating too little protein during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, lower birth weight, and intrauterine growth restrictions. The right protein intake will encourage proper growth and development of the foetus while excess protein might have negative effects. If you are able to source fresh tuna and consume it in moderate amounts, this fish can be a good source of high-quality protein.

2. Ensures Proper Brain and Eye Development of the Fetus

DHA and EPA are two long-chain omega-3s, which are highly crucial for the development of a baby’s brain and eyes. They can even reduce the risk of poor fetal growth, preterm birth, childhood allergies, and more.

[Read : Your Baby’s Eyes and Sight]

3. Rich in Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 helps to optimize nervous system functioning. It regulates oxygen transportation and helps in the proper production of red blood cells and protein. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia among other conditions. If you are deficient in B12, moderate consumption of tuna fish can help you reach your recommended daily requirement.

4. Excellent Source of Iron

Tuna is rich in iron, an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the formation of red blood cells. Your body utilises iron in the manufacture of haemoglobin, an important component of blood. During pregnancy, your body needs double the amount of iron since your body’s blood volume increases to supply blood to the uterus. Your baby also needs an extra oxygen supply which is facilitated by iron.

5. Contains Vitamin D

Tuna consists of smaller amounts of Vitamin D, which is vital for bone health and immunity. Proper levels of vitamin D in the body can lower the risk associated with preeclampsia and miscarriage.

While having tuna fish has its advantages, there are some risks too.

What Are the Risks of Eating Tuna While Pregnant?

Tuna consists of higher mercury levels. Ingesting too much tuna during the time of pregnancy can harm the proper development of your fetus’s nervous system and brain, which can ultimately result in a wide range of developmental and health issues. So, doctors recommend that pregnant women consume moderate quantities of tuna and also avoid certain varieties of tuna altogether. We will list the safe and unsafe tuna varieties during pregnancy.

Common Tuna Types and Their Eating Rules During Pregnancy

Common Tuna Types

Different types of tuna are available during pregnancy and some of them are safe too. The ground rule is to only have fully cooked tuna whether in baked, broiled or cooked forms. Any raw, uncooked, or undercooked tuna dishes, sushi, for example, carry harmful bacteria.  Consuming such dishes can cause food poisoning which can be harmful to the mother and the fetus. Be sure to cook tuna to a minimum temperature of around 145 degrees F to kill all the potential pathogens and parasites.

Here are some tuna types you can safely have during pregnancy and the recommended quantities.

1. Bluefin Tuna

Available in Sashimi form, it is advisable to limit the intake to 150 to 170 gm a week.

2. Ahi Tuna

Available in steak or sashimi form, it has a higher mercury level and must be consumed less than 150 gm.

3. Skipjack Tuna

Has a moderate mercury content and is safe to eat. But pregnant women must limit consumption to 1 to 2 servings every week.

4. Yellowfin Tuna

A light tuna and has a profound flavor. It is available in pouches and cans, and pregnant women should limit the servings to 2 to 3 per week.

5. Albacore Tuna

Also known as white tuna and is available in pouches and cans. You can consume this version of tuna when you are pregnant, but it should be limited to 150 gm per week. Tuna salad made out of this variation is a good option during pregnancy.

[Read : Crab During Pregnancy]

Is Fresh Tuna Good For Pregnancy?

Fresh tuna fish will always feel oily. However, it will have the best nutritional value and is considered to be safe for pregnant women. It has minerals, vitamins, proteins, and a higher source of omega-3 fatty acids. Having fresh tuna helps in the proper development and growth of the fetus’s brain.

Is it Safe to Have Canned Tuna During Pregnancy?

Canned tuna safe during pregnancy

Pregnant women can have canned tuna but in limited quantities. Having canned tuna can carry certain risk factors.

  • Canned tuna has high levels of salt which will cause a serious rise in sodium levels. Excess consumption of canned tuna can often result in increased blood pressure, especially for those who are already at a risk for hypertension.
  • The metal cans have a lining, which has Bisphenol A or BPA. It can easily enter your system and affect the brain development of your fetus.
  • The preservatives added to canned goods may be harmful to the developing foetus.
  • With so many risk factors, you must have canned tuna only when absolutely necessary at that point in time.

What Are the Tuna Types to Eat and Avoid?

You have two categories of tuna fish. One is good for consumption by pregnant women, and the other, they must avoid at all costs.

Two versions of Tuna, which contain a good amount of mercury and should be avoided by pregnant women are fresh or frozen yellowfin or ahi and fresh or frozen versions of big-eye tuna.

There are four types of tuna fish, which are safe to consume but only in a moderate amount. Those are Canned Albacore, Fresh or Frozen Albacore, Skipjack Light Tuna, and Fresh or Frozen Skipjack.

Tuna might sound delicious during pregnancy, especially when you are craving it but not always safe. Even with the tuna types which are acceptable during pregnancy, moderation is the key if you don’t want to cause any harm to your fetus. So, make sure to get these points straight before adding tuna fish to your diet plan. You can always consult you doctor or a dietitian to understand safe consumption patterns.

[Read : Pregnancy And Eating Fish]

FAQ’s

1. Is it Safe to Consume Tuna During pregnancy?

When compared to other fish items, Tuna has more mercury in it. So, pregnant women should always limit the intake of this fish along with other high-mercury fishes to around 2 to 3 servings of 150 to 170 gm per week.

2. Can You Eat 2 Tuna Cans While Pregnant?

Canned tuna is loaded with salt and chemicals. It is always highly advisable not to consume it or have it in very small quantities. You can opt for fresh tuna or other forms of safer, mercury-free fish.

3. Can You Eat Tuna During the Third trimester?

Yes, you can have tuna during the third trimester as well as during the complete pregnancy period. Follow safety procedures and moderation while sourcing and cooking to ensure that you do not get harmed from eating tuna when pregnant.

Read Also: Is It Safe To Eat Salmon During Pregnancy?

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