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Sound Fishy?: New Study Shows Couples Who Eat Seafood Get Pregnant Faster

August 26, 2018
Katie Visco

While it sounds dubious, a new study has demonstrated that 92 percent of couples who ate seafood more than twice a week achieved pregnancy within a year. This is a high rate of conception, especially compared to the 79 percent of couples who conceived in a year and ate seafood less frequently. However, There are many other factors that could have contributed to the supposed correlation between seafood and pregnancy, however.

Keep reading to find out:

  • Why seafood could be linked to pregnancy
  • Other factors affecting higher pregnancy rates
  • Precautions to take when incorporating seafood into your diet
  • What this means for you

Fishing for Nutrients

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial for pregnancy and the health of the baby after birth. Some of the proven benefits of these fatty acids include improving immune health and maintaining prostaglandin levels. Having consistent hormone levels is important for overall health, but also particularly important for pregnancy.

Omega-3 fatty acids contribute a lot, but they are not synthesized by the body and therefore need to be obtained from external sources. The most potent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, apart from supplements, are from the sea. Fish are a rich good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may explain why couples who eat more seafood have more success conceiving.

Other studies have proven that omega-3 fatty acids contribute to sperm health. The fish-derived nutrient apparently helps with antioxidant activity and helps with motility. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids are sometimes suggested for men struggling with infertility.

In addition to helping with sperm health, omega-3 fatty acids help with egg health too, leading to a higher chance of pregnancy overall. This might be why couples who both consume seafood have a higher chance of pregnancy. The overall health benefits from regular consumption, combined with specific effects on fertility, could contribute to the findings from the study.

Looking Beyond the Surface

While the nutrients from seafood are important for health and fertility, other unrelated factors there are other factors that might have affected the results of the study. For example, couples who eat seafood regularly may have healthier more healthy diets in general, leading to higher fertility and conception.

Another unrelated factor is that couples who both eat seafood might be having more meals together, meaning they spend more time together and therefore have sex more often. An increased frequency of sex could positively contribute to the chance of conception.

In addition to the physiological effects of eating seafood, the behavioral aspects associated with eating meals together and seeking out healthier foods like fish affect the chance of pregnancy.

Before You Go on a Fish Frenzy…

Fish and its nutrients may seem promising for people looking to get pregnant, but there are some precautions to take before diving into a fish-filled diet. Although there are many benefits to eating seafood, seafood also has the potential to contain many toxicants. This would actually decrease reproductive success, so it is important to consider where you are getting your seafood from.

Not all seafood is harmful, but low-quality or larger fish have a higher chance of containing toxins.

High-risk forms of seafood are:

  • Any raw seafood
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Marlin

Raw seafood has a higher chance of containing tapeworms, bacteria, and viruses, which are all harmful to people whether or not they are trying to get pregnant. Exposure to mercury is the biggest concern for people who are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant, and larger fish like shark or swordfish contain high levels of mercury.

Before incorporating more fish into your diet, make sure you do your research to ensure you do not expose yourself to harmful substances.

Reeling Seafood Into Your Diet

So what kind of seafood is okay to eat? The rule of thumb is, anything that is cooked tends to be okay.

If you are cooking your own fish, make sure you cut into it before eating to make sure it is fully cooked. Using a food thermometer is another effective way to make sure your seafood is cooked completely through. An ideal temperature for cooking is at least 63 degrees Celsius.

Oily fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, but it also has a high chance of containing pollutants, so limiting consumption to twice a week would be ideal.

Some examples of oily fish are:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Eel
  • Tuna

Canned tuna that is sold on shelves tends to be processed and therefore safe to eat. Even then, tuna consumption should be limited to four medium-sized cans a week.

Non-oily, cooked fish that can be consumed in larger quantities include cod, haddock, and flounder. If you are a fan of sushi, make sure the raw fish you are consuming has at least been frozen first to kill off parasites. Most premade supermarket sushi meets tends to meet this requirement.

Smoked, pickled, and salted seafood all have been processed enough so that most bacteria should have been killed off. You can never be too careful, so always double check your seafood and ask about its processing to ensure you are not exposing yourself to toxins.

Omega-3 fatty acids hold significant a lot of potential, and seafood is a great source of the nutrient. If you do not enjoy seafood, look into oils and tablets instead. Everything is good in moderation, so look into dosage and do your research before incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.

While many factors could have affected the outcome of the study, the most important finding is that diet plays a big role in health and therefore fertility.


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