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Mercury Levels in Sushi Most women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant have heard the warnings about eating sushi. There are risks to pregnant women due to certain bacteria and increased exposure to mercury.

Mercury Levels in Sushi: Safety List for Pregnant Mothers

Mercury Levels in Sushi

Most women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant have heard the warnings about eating sushi. There are risks to pregnant women due to certain bacteria and increased exposure to mercury. But, women also need to remember that not all sushi is uncooked, and most fish contain essential nutrients and vitamins needed for growth and development of their baby.

Eating fish that is cooked can help reduce the risk of exposure to certain bacteria. Eating fish that is not on the “high” mercury list is also a way to eat fish safely.

The NRDC has compiled a list of fish used in sushi and where they rank in their levels of mercury. Many of the main sushi type fish contain high levels of mercury and should be completely avoided or eaten very rarely. If you have further questions regarding sushi, you should talk with your health care provider to get their recommendation.

Avoid the following sushi while pregnant:

 

  • Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
  • Aji (horse mackerel)
  • Buri (adult yellowtail)
  • Hamachi (young yellowtail)
  • Inada (very young yellowtail)
  • Kanpachi (very young yellowtail)
  • Katsuo (bonito)
  • Kajiki (swordfish)
  • Maguro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
  • Makjiki (blue marlin)
  • Meji (young bigeye, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)
  • Saba (mackerel)
  • Sawara (spanish mackerel)
  • Shiro (albacore tuna)
  • Seigo (young sea bass)*
  • Suzuki (sea bass)*
  • Toro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)

 

The FDA has identified four fish with the highest levels of mercury that should be avoided during pregnancy. These include tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel. Albacore tuna should also be limited to 6 ounces per week.

Enjoy up to two 6-oz servings a week:

 

  • Akagai (ark shell)
  • Anago (conger eel)
  • Aoyagi (round clam)
  • Awabi (abalone)
  • Ayu (sweetfish)
  • Ebi (shrimp)
  • Hamaguri (clam)
  • Hamo (pike conger; sea eel)
  • Hatahata (sandfish)
  • Himo (ark shell)
  • Hokkigai (surf clam)
  • Hotategai (scallop)
  • Ika (squid)
  • Ikura (salmon roe)
  • Kaibashira (shellfish)
  • Kani (crab)
  • Karei (flatfish)
  • Kohada (gizzard shad)
  • Masago (smelt egg)
  • Masu (trout)
  • Mirugai (surf clam)
  • Sake (salmon)
  • Sayori (halfbeak)
  • Shako (mantis shrimp)
  • Tai (sea bream)
  • Tairagai (razor-shell clam)
  • Tako (octopus)
  • Tobikko (flying fish egg)
  • Torigai (cockle)
  • Tsubugai (shellfish)
  • Unagi (freshwater eel)
  • Uni (sea urchin roe)

 

The categories on the list are determined according to the following mercury levels in the flesh of the tested fish.

 

  • Lower Mercury: Less than 0.29 parts per million
  • High Mercury: More than 0.3 parts per million

 

 

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