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Fish Guidelines

A KidNutriYum reader has asked me to discuss how much fish our children should be eating on a weekly basis. Fish is high in Omega 3 fatty acids which are important for brain and eye development in children. It is also low in saturated fat, high in protein, and high in vitamin D. Nonetheless, there has been increasing concern about the levels of mercury found in fish. The good news is that these levels vary greatly based on the following criteria:

  • The type/breed of fish

  • Whether the fish has been farmed or is wild

  • The fish’s origins (Pacific, Atlantic, Caribbean, etc.)

The benefits of eating fish on a regular basis far outweigh the risks as long as we respect certain guidelines. The following website is an excellent reference guide to help you determine which fish your children (and your entire family) should be eating:

It is important to note that the website lists fish that young children (and women of childbearing age) should avoid altogether because of their high mercury levels. There are various advocacy groups that believe that this list should be expanded further to include the following:

  • Tuna

  • Striped Bass

  • Bluefish

  • Chilean Sea Bass

  • Golden Snapper

  • Marlin

  • Orange Roughy

  • Amberjack

  • Crevalle jack

  • Spanish Mackeral

  • Walleye

A serving of fish for 1-2 year olds is 1 ounce, for 3-6 year olds is 1.5 ounces, and for kids over 6 years old, 2 ounces. Alternatively you can look at the website’s chart and estimate the serving size based on your child’s weight.

Depriving your children and your families of fish because of a fear of their mercury levels is not recommended. In fact fish provides some very essential nutrients to a child’s diets that should not be ignored. Moderation is key, and sticking to the guidelines provided will help ensure that your child is eating properly for optimal growth and development!

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