Fish for Fertility and Health
People already know that fish as food is beneficial to human health. What many may not be known are the exact benefits derived from eating fish and the advantages it has over other sources of proteins. The benefits of eating fish are numerous ranging from human development to reproduction. These benefits come from various nutrients and micro nutrients in fish especially in fish oil. We will discuss some of them and how beneficial they are. This write-up should however not be taken as medical advice though there are scientific reports to back up the claims. High fish consumption is found to among other things reduce the risk of cardio-vascular diseases and perceived benefits in fetal development is still undergoing further research. Poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)
In pregnancy the benefit of fish is related to its content of LC n-3 PUFA. This is good for pregnant women for the fetus to develop the central nervous system. Pregnant women are however advised not to take much of fish like tuna, shark and swordfish or marlin because of harmful levels of methyl mercury. Though mercury is present in other food sources, fish makes the most significant dietary contribution.
Tuna has lower mercury content than the others but higher than more commonly consumed fish. Some countries circulate advice to their pregnant women as to how much is acceptable at different stages of pregnancy. Methyl mercury has been found to affect the kidneys and also the central nervous system particularly during the development of the fetus.
Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine) water soluble vitamin is present in fish. It is also present in meat, poultry, whole grains, enriched bread, cereals, legumes, green and leafy vegetables. This vitamin is necessary for immune system function, hormone modulation, gluconogenesis, essential in making certain amino acids and is involved in metabolizing polyunsaturated fats and proteins.Vitamin
B-6 is used to build red blood cells and maintain nerve tissues and is involved in the formation of Niacin. Deficiency is not common but symptoms include mouth sores , nausea, nervousness, anaemia and convulsions. High doses over prolonged periods are toxic and can cause temporary or permanent nerve damage.
Essential part of the more than 200 enzymes involved in digestion, metabolism, reproduction(sperm formation) and wound healing. It is involved in the sense of taste, plays a role in the structure of cell membrane, a major part of the immune system and a component of insulin. Symptoms of moderate deficiency include growth retardation, poor appetite, mental lethargy, delayed wound healing, abnormalities of taste, smell and vision, and skin damage. High doses may lead to copper deficiency, gastro-intestinal distress or impaired immune function. Over long periods this may cause depression of ‘good’ Cholesterol.
Mild deficiency in males may lead to low sperm count. Moderate to severe deficiency in male may lead to decreases in sexual interest, mental lethargy and emotional problems.
Copper is an essential trace element present in shellfish and also in organ meats, legumes and nuts. It is one of the factors of haemoglobin formation. Copper helps to stimulate absorption of iron and plays a role in respiration. Symptoms of deficiency include anaemia that is unresponsive to iron, lowered white blood cell count and loss of bone density (osteoporosis).
Also present in shrimp, almond clams, milk products, dark green leafy vegetables, broccoli, fortified orange juice, legumes and tofu.
Health Benefits: calcium include developing and maintaining healthy teeth and bones, assisting in blood clotting , muscle contraction, nerve transmission, involved in production of energy and maintenance of immune function.
Deficiency: Severe deficiency may lead to abnormal heartbeat, dementia, muscle spasm and convulsions, brittle, thinning bones (osteoporosis). Higher doses may cause constipation and interfere in kidney functioning and iron absorption, causes tissue calcification and may cause magnesium deficiency. Vitamin B-12 (water soluble vitamin) works with folic acid to produce red blood cells. Deficiency of vitamin B-12 can lead to pernicious anaemia, muscle and nerve paralysis. Vitamin B12 helps to build and maintain protective nerve sheaths. The vitamin is needed for RNA synthesis; Vitamin B-12 is also present in meat, poultry, eggs and cheese.