Okay to eat sushi and yogurt during pregnancy?

Originally Published: March 12, 1999 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: March 12, 2010
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Dear Alice,

I am eight weeks pregnant and concerned about proper nutrition. Although I am not able to eat much now (“morning sickness,” which lasts all day!), I wonder if it’s okay to eat sushi and yogurt. Thanks a lot.

Dear Reader,

It's great that you are concerned with nutrition during pregnancy — hopefully an exciting time, even with morning sickness. Maintaining proper nutrition and healthy habits during pregnancy contributes to healthy fetal development. This may mean eating more of some foods or nutrients, while cutting back on others.

When it comes to eating fish, it is generally recommended that women who are pregnant consume no more than twelve ounces of fish that contain small amounts of mercury (e.g., salmon, pollock, shrimp) per week and no more than six ounces of albacore tuna per week. Fish, especially tuna, often contains varying levels of mercury, which is poisonous and enters the ocean as an industrial pollutant. The level of mercury in sushi depends on the type of fish used to prepare the sushi. For more information about mercury in fish, be sure to check out Mercury poisoning: Something fishy about too much tuna? in the Go Ask Alice! fitness and nutrition archives.

You also asked about yogurt, which can be a great source of calcium (FYI — regardless of being pregnant, women between 19 and 50 years of age are advised to consume 1000 milligrams of calcium per day). When consuming yogurt or any other dairy product, just be sure that the product has been pasteurized to help avoid listeriosis and other bacterial infections. Pasteurization involves heating the food product to kill bacteria that are present. Women who are pregnant are also advised to avoid consuming unpasteurized juices, soft cheeses, refrigerated smoked seafood, raw sprouts, as well as undercooked meat, eggs, and poultry.

Still, you may want to consider discussing proper nutrition with your health care provider, who can provide more individualized information about the particular nutrients that you may need more of, as well as foods you'd do best to avoid. If you are a student at Columbia, you can make an appointment to see a healthcare provider by either calling x4-2284 or visiting Open Communicator. For more detailed information about proper nutrition and other healthy habits during pregnancy, you can visit the March of Dimes Pregnancy and Newborn Health Education Center.

Here's to a healthy mother and baby,

Alice