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Eat Fish
for Health

Mother and Daughter Enjoying a Healthy Dinner

Why Eat Fish

Eating fish is healthy for people of all ages. Fish and shellfish are rich in nutrients that are important for heart health and for the growth and development of children, particularly brain development.

Vitamins and Minerals

Fish contains nutrients such as zinc, iron, selenium, iodine and vitamin D.

Due to the northern latitude, reduced strength of the sun in Canada and the recommendation to wear sunscreen, it is necessary to obtain vitamin D from other sources than the sun. Fish is one of the good food sources of vitamin D.

Vitamin D lowers your risk of osteoporosis and strengthens bones and teeth by helping your body absorb calcium from the foods we eat. It also helps reduce the risk of diseases such as:

  • type 1 and type 2 diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • certain cancers

Omega-3 Fats

The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are rich in DHA (docohexaenoic acid).

DHA:

  • is a type of fat that helps the healthy development of the brain, nerves and eyes in children.
  • is good for everyone's heart health.
  • needs to be ingested as part of our diet because our bodies do not make DHA.

Low in Saturated Fat

Fish have very low levels of saturated fats. Diets high in saturated fat increase the risk of heart disease.

The Facts on Fish Oil

If you don't think you're eating enough fish, fish oil supplements and other omega-3 fatty acid supplements are an option to consider. The safety and efficacy of these supplements depends on the age of the person and their diet. Call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700 for advice about consuming fish oil supplements.

Keep these tips in mind if you are thinking about supplements:

  • Look for ones that have vitamin E added since it helps prevent the oils from going bad.
  • Avoid fish liver oil capsules; they are high in vitamin A and may be toxic if taken for long periods of time.
  • Pregnant women should avoid taking any liver product because of the high vitamin A levels.
  • Fish oil has a blood thinning effect, so consult your physician if you are already taking blood thinning medication.

Fish oil supplements may taste fishy and cause you to burp. Consuming large amounts may cause nausea and diarrhea.

Please note that consuming fish oil supplements is not an adequate replacement for fish in the diet. There are other nutritional benefits of consuming fish in addition to the omega-3 fatty acid content (e.g., protein, vitamin D). If you are not consuming fish, ask a registered dietitian about other foods you may want to consume more of.


Why eat fish? | How much is enough? | Healthy fish choices
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Revised: Friday July 30 2010

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