Can pregnant women eat shrimp?

Are pregnant women allowed to eat shrimp?

Every pregnant woman receives lots of information about what they can eat and what they can't. Although the advisory varies from country to country, certain countries provide details about what kind of seafood a pregnant woman can consume. Many women wonder about whether pregnant women can eat shrimp, or not. Here's everything you need to about the benefits and risks associated with eating shrimp during pregnancy. 

Many doctors and scientists believe that there are many benefits to consuming fish during pregnancy. It has also been noticed that most women crave shrimp while they are pregnant. Shrimp and other seafood are good for women during pregnancy. These foods are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids that are helpful in the fetus' neurodevelopment. 

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), shrimp and other fish are rich in protein; thus, they help in providing better health to both the mother and the developing fetus. However, the FDA advisory also says that pregnant women should avoid seafood that is rich in mercury. Nevertheless, shrimp can be safely eaten by pregnant women as it falls into the category of low-mercury seafood. According to the FDA's recommendations, though, it is recommended that you have a restricted consumption of shrimp. It should not exceed 12 ounces per week. [1] [2] [3] 

Shrimp is healthy food for pregnant women because it's high in protein without the fishy taste that some women cannot tolerate while pregnant. Eating shrimp may also be a superior lean protein option for pregnant women experiencing nausea. It's fine to eat cold shrimp, like shrimp cocktail, as long as the fish has been cooked thoroughly beforehand. The temperature of the fish after the cooking procedure is what matters. When the shrimp was cooked, you can chill it for a refreshing cocktail dish.

See: Calculate Your Pregnancy By Months, Weeks and Trimester

Eating shrimp during pregnancy benefits

Benefits of eating shrimp during pregnancy

Shrimp contains nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants like astaxanthin that are needed for the health of the fetus as well as pregnant women in the long term. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of any preterm birth of the baby. In addition to this, babies that are born to mothers with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids are less likely to have a low birth weight. [4] [5] Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for the fetus's neurological and eye development. This is the reason most prenatal medicines have omega 3 fatty acids in them. Pregnant women should get the natural source of omega 3 fatty acids in the form of shrimp. [6]

● Apart from omega-3 fatty acids, shrimps are also rich in protein, vitamin B2, and vitamin D. These nutrients are essential for the overall health of the fetus and the mom to be. Shrimps are also one of the best sources of iron, magnesium, and potassium. Eating iron-rich food helps the body produce extra blood that is needed for the baby. Besides, it can assist in providing more energy to women during pregnancy. [7]

● Shrimps are also rich in a type of carotenoid antioxidant known as astaxanthin. Shrimp is one of the major food sources of astaxanthin. Having astaxanthin helps protect against inflammation by preventing damage to your cells by free radicals. Astaxanthin is widely studied for the key role it plays in reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, which is especially important when a woman is pregnant. [8] [9] 

See: Are you Pregnant- Follow this Simple Pregnancy Diet Plan

Precautions

Safety & Precautions While Eating Shrimp During Pregnancy

● Certain precautions need to be taken during the consumption of shrimp during pregnancy. For the health of the fetus and pregnant women, excessive seafood consumption should be avoided. In addition to this, the woman should pay attention while eating seafood such as shrimps. Any undercooked or overcooked food can be dangerous and may cause food poisoning.  It is imperative to be careful as a food illness is the worst thing a woman can get during pregnancy.

● While ordering shrimp in a restaurant, it is important to be sure that the food items are fully cooked. Even while preparing shrimp at home, it is important to pay attention to the internal temperature of shrimp at 145-degree Fahrenheit.

Always purchase seafood and shrimps from a registered market and store

All pregnant women are advised not to eat more than 8-12 ounces of shrimp and other seafood in a week. Shrimp should not be included in more than 2-3 meals a week. Eating more than this can cause indigestion and other issues while a woman is pregnant. 

● Depending upon where the shrimp are caught, the mercury level in the shrimp can be higher or lower. People need to have proper information about the mercury level of the fishing area. Every community health department also reveals lots of information about the levels of mercury, and it is advisable to get lots of information from them. [10] 

See: Lemongrass safety during pregnancy

Seafoods to avoid during pregnancy

What seafood to avoid during pregnancy

Although tuna might be a favorite food for many women, whether it be an ahi steak or a tuna melt, it is better to limit the amount of tuna while pregnant. Should you eat tuna, it's better to eat light canned tuna. Tuna has a higher mercury count compared to other fish, mainly because of its size. Bigger sized fish tend to live longer, and the mercury in the ocean leaches in their flesh. This can be toxic if transferred to you in your meal.

Consuming excessive amounts of mercury during pregnancy can cause hearing problems, vision problems, and brain damage for the fetus. In adults, mercury can lead to kidney or liver failure, in addition to the damage to the nervous system. Too much mercury during pregnancy can cause birth defects acute enough that you might miscarry.

The fish that pregnant women should avoid entirely would be the high-mercury ones. Say no to the shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and swordfish for your meals. Shrimp is safe to eat as it falls into the class of low-mercury seafood, which also includes salmon, pollack, sardines, and catfish. However, you should limit your diet of those fish to no more than 12 ounces each week. Go to a place where you know you'll get well-prepared food. Avoid raw, undercooked, or poor looking shrimp, so you don't get sick while pregnant. 

See: Shrimp Health Benefits And Nutrition Facts

Summary

Eating shrimp and other fish during pregnancy is not an automatic denial. You need to be selective about the quality and the portions of seafood you eat while pregnant. Preterm birth and poor neurological conditions of newborn babies are increasing day by day. Even after lots of government programs and support, the problem is not getting solved. One of the reasons for preterm birth can be the lack of omega-three fatty acids in pregnant women. One of the major sources of omega-three fatty acids is shrimp. Most women like to eat shrimp when they are pregnant, but they fear the presence of mercury in seafood.

So can pregnant women eat shrimp? The answer is yes. Most pregnant women can eat shrimp and other seafood if they don't have any other medical conditions, or their doctors have advised against it. But adding shrimp to the diet does not mean that it can be eaten in excess. A pregnant woman should try to get a maximum of 2 to 3 servings of shrimp each week, and that will be more than enough to get the desired proportion of Omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and other major nutrients. [11] [12] The health of the baby is extremely important while pregnant. For the fetus's better growth and development, women need to consume seafood like shrimp but never overdo it. Going overboard with a shrimp diet can lead to other health-related risks for their baby.  

See: Garbh Sanskar Therapy To Manage Anxiety During Pregnancy

References

1. Smith, Katrina L., and Jane L. Guentzel. "Mercury concentrations &  omega-3 fatty acids in fish & shrimp: preferential consumption for maximum health benefits." Marine pollution bulletin 60.9 (2010): 1615-1618.

2. Rahmatullah, Mohammed, et al. "Brine shrimp toxicity study of different Bangladeshi medicinal plants." Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences 4.2 (2010): 163-173.

3. Dovydaitis, Tiffany. "Fish consumption during pregnancy: an overview of the risks and benefits." Journal of midwifery & women's health 53.4 (2008): 325-330.

4. Coletta, J.M., Bell, SJ, and Roman, A.S., 2010. Omega-3 fatty acids and pregnancy. Reviews in obstetrics and gynecology, 3(4), p.163.

5. Greenberg, J.A., Bell, SJ, and Van Ausdal, W., 2008. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation during pregnancy. Reviews in obstetrics and Gynecology, 1(4), p.162.

6. Taylor, Caroline M., et al. "A review of guidance on fish consumption in pregnancy: is it fit for purpose?." Public health nutrition 21.11 (2018): 2149-2159.

7. He, H., Lawrence, A.L., and Liu, R., 1992. Evaluation of dietary essentiality of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K for penaeid shrimp (Penaeus vannamei). Aquaculture, 103(2), pp.177-185.

8. Grimmig, B., Kim, S.H., Nash, K., Bickford, P.C. and Shytle, R.D., 2017. Neuroprotective mechanisms of astaxanthin: a potential therapeutic role in preserving cognitive function in age and neurodegeneration. Geroscience, 39(1), pp.19-32.

9. Ambati, R.R., Phang, S.M., Ravi, S., and Aswathanarayana, R.G., 2014. Astaxanthin: sources, extraction, stability, biological activities, and its commercial applications—a review. Marine drugs, 12(1), pp.128-152.

10. Coletta, Jaclyn M., Stacey J. Bell, and Ashley S. Roman. "Omega-3 fatty acids & pregnancy." Reviews in obstetrics and gynecology 3.4 (2010): 163.

11. Bloomingdale, Arienne, et al. "A qualitative study of fish consumption during pregnancy." The American journal of clinical nutrition 92.5 (2010): 1234-1240.

12. Morrissette, Joëlle, et al. "Temporal variation of blood and hair mercury levels in pregnancy in relation to fish consumption history in a population living along the St. Lawrence River." Environmental Research 95.3 (2004): 363-374.

See: Pregnancy Diet & Nutrition

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