2017 EPA-FDA Advice about Eating Fish and Shellfish

Photo of three women's pregnant bellys

EPA  and FDA provide advice on eating fish and shellfish. Fish and shellfish provide protein, are low in saturated fat, are rich in many micronutrients, and provide certain omega-3 fatty acids that the body can not make and are important for normal growth and development.  However, as a result of natural processes and human activity, fish also contain mercury in the form of methylmercury.  Methylmercury can negatively affect the central nervous system, particularly the developing brain of a fetus.

The agencies have concluded that the following people should eat more fish that is lower in mercury for important developmental and health benefits:
  • Women of childbearing age (about 16-49 years old)
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women
  • Young children

The advice recommends that  women and children eat two to three servings (8-12 ounces for adults and children over age 10, smaller amounts for younger children) of a variety of fish and shellfish each week. The advice includes a chart showing how often to eat more than 60 types of fish and shellfish and supplemental questions and answers. A technical page includes information  for those who want to understand the data and calculations that underlie the advice.

The agencies accepted public comments on the draft version of this advice from June 2014 through March 2015, after which the advice was revised and sent through peer review.

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