Glamour Magazine Fails Pregnant Women with its Seafood Advice

Nutrition Experts Say Pregnant Moms Should Eat More Seafood. Glamour Magazine Says They Shouldn’t. Who Do You Think Wins This Debate?

Would you trust Glamour, a beauty magazine, over peer-reviewed science when deciding what to eat while you’re pregnant or trying to have a baby? What about a fashion magazine versus hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, along with the advice of top medical professionals, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists?

That’s the question Glamour magazine recently put to its readers in publishing “9 Foods to Avoid if You’re Trying to Get Pregnant.” The article severely mangles recommendations made by the FDA, among others, and blatantly contradicts the public health organization’s advice, instead advising women to do something studies show will cause them harm.

It’s that bad.

The Problem with Glamour’s Recommendations

Glamour author Suzannah Weiss warns pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant to avoid “mercury-rich” seafood such as tuna, warning that eating “high-mercury fish before you’re pregnant” can build up stores of mercury. The problem? Weiss wrongly considers tuna a mercury risk, ignoring guidance given by FDA officials and exacerbating dangerous misperceptions about seafood that can contribute to the very kind of malnutrition the author herself decries in another article.

Pregnant Women Should Eat More Seafood

In fact, the FDA and the USDA recommend pregnant women and those trying to get pregnant eat more seafood, including tuna, with just one exception— the “bigeye” species of tuna commonly used in sushi. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans make clear that it’s important to eat a variety of cooked seafood 2-3 times each week during pregnancy.

Sadly, the average pregnant woman is eating woefully too little seafood. One study found that “only 10 percent of women met the recommendations” for “getting the right amount of whole grains, fatty acids, and sodium.”

Glamour’s Reporting has Consequences

Misguided reporting that discourages the consumption of fish has consequences. The World Health Organization points out that avoiding seafood may actually mean missing out on the best possible brain development for babies. That’s because seafood is one of the only foods naturally rich in a healthy fatty acid called omega-3 DHA, necessary for a baby’s brain and eye development. Other nutrients found in seafood—including protein, calcium, vitamin D and iron—help build bones and muscles.

The FDA’s recommended limit for mercury in seafood also has a ten-fold safety-factor built in. And the FDA’s Net Effects report, which is based on 100 peer-reviewed studies, found that a pregnant woman could eat 56 ounces of tuna per week, without worry. That’s equivalent to tuna for lunch and dinner, every day of the week.

Tuna is Safe During Pregnancy

Let’s be clear. Tuna is one of many safe, healthy seafood choices pregnant women can make. You can learn more about tuna and pregnancy here. In the meantime, it would seem that the best health advice for expectant mothers, or women trying to get pregnant, is to avoid Glamour magazine’s nutrition advice.