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How to Shop the Vitamin Aisle, Based on Your Diet


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Image: Shutterstock. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

Pescatarianism is similar to vegetarian and vegan diets, except that it expressly allows the consumption of fish and (sometimes) seafood. Like vegetarians, many pescatarians eat eggs and dairy products. But some don’t, instead abstaining from consuming animal products — with the exception of fish and (again, sometimes) seafood.

Because pescatarians can eat fish, they get a lot of the nutrients missing from vegan and vegetarian diets. Clams, trout, salmon, tuna and haddock can be great sources of vitamin B12. All kinds of fish and seafood — especially salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines — offer omega-3 fatty acids. Oysters are an excellent source of zinc, and lobster and crab offer some of it, too. Iron is found in oysters, sardines, and tuna. And just one-fourth teaspoon of sea salt will offer you adequate iodine for the day. Plus, since dairy products — like yogurt, cheese, milk and ice cream — are rich in calcium, pescatarians who eat dairy products can get plenty of that, too.

The only potential pitfall of pescatarianism is an excess of mercury, a toxic substance often found in fish and seafood. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), regularly consuming large amounts of fish can increase a person’s risk of mercury exposure. This is of particular concern for pregnant and breastfeeding women, as mercury exposure can harm children, according to the NIEHS.

Because of this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends limiting fish intake to 12 ounces (about two meals) each week. The FDA also recommends prioritizing fish that are low in mercury — like shrimp, canned white tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish — over those that are high in it — like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

Consider talking to your primary care provider about your fish consumption to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients while limiting mercury exposure. If you decide to cut back your fish intake, you may want to consider supplementing some of the nutrients you’d otherwise get from that fish — including vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, and iodine. Again, talk to your doctor to determine what’s right for you.

Vitamin B12

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Vitamin D

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Multivitamin (with Iodine)

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Next: The Best Vitamins for Gluten-Free Diets

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