Do You Need More Iodine? The Importance of Iodine in Pregnancy

    Do You Need More Iodine? The Importance of Iodine in Pregnancy

    Pregnant women cannot afford to experience nutrient deficiency because it can negatively affect the growing baby in their womb. For instance, a deficiency of folic acid might lead to neurological consequences in the child. Iodine deficiency may also lead to similar consequences. What’s the importance of iodine in pregnancy? Find out here.

    The Importance of Iodine in Pregnancy: What is Iodine?

    Iodine in pregnancy is important, but what is iodine?

    Iodine is a mineral our body uses to make thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones, in turn, are essential for metabolism and other functions, such as temperature regulation and muscle contraction. People who don’t get enough iodine may experience goiter and hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormones).

    The average daily recommended amount of iodine for adults is 150 micrograms. For pregnant women, however, the iodine requirement significantly increases to 220 micrograms.

    The Importance of Iodine in Pregnancy

    Pregnant women have increased iodine requirement because the baby uses thyroid hormones for their bone and brain development.

    Reports indicate that the lack of iodine in a pregnant woman’s diet is associated with stillbirths, miscarriages, preterm birth, and congenital abnormalities. Severe iodine deficiency could also lead to hearing, speech, and growth problems, as well as intellectual disabilities.

    According to the American Thyroid Association, iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of intellectual disabilities across the globe. They also added that even mild iodine insufficiency could result in low intelligence in kids.

    The Importance of Iodine in Pregnancy: Low Iodine Levels in Pregnant Women

    While iodine in pregnancy is essential, pregnant women don’t always get enough of it.

    A small pilot study invited 47 pregnant participants: 31 had a vegan or plant-based diet, while the other 26 consumed meat. The researchers then compared their iodine levels and noted that those under the vegan/plant-based diet had 44ug/L of iodine, and those who ate meat had 64 ug/L.

    However none of the participants met the World Health Organizations’ recommendation of 100 ug/L.

    Even more worrying is that women from both groups who used pink Himalayan salts instead of iodized salt had severely low iodine levels, averaging only 23 ug/L.

    The researchers pointed out that preference for Himalayan salts is a concern, along with the choice to have a plant-based diet since it may be void of seafood, a natural source of iodine.

    The Importance of Iodine in Pregnancy: Where to Get Iodine

    Now that we know more about the importance of iodine in pregnancy, let’s cover where you could get it.

    You can get iodine through the consumption of:

    • Seafood. These include tuna, shrimp, and cod.
    • Milk. This also includes other dairy products.
    • Iodized salt. Before you decide to change your salts from iodized to other types (Koshe, Himalayan, etc.), remember that many do not contain enough iodine. Talk to your doctor first before switching salts.

    Finally, discuss with your doctor how you can have a healthy, balanced diet while you’re pregnant. To ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need, they might recommend a meal plan for you and give you supplementation.

    Women in Their Reproductive Years Also Need Adequate Iodine Intake

    Iodine in pregnancy is important, but it’s also worth noting that adequate iodine levels are crucial even before a woman conceives.

    A local study mentioned that women of childbearing age with severe iodine deficiency might need a longer time to conceive.

    The study researchers concluded that in the Philippines, “pockets of [iodine deficiency] among women of childbearing age exist.” The key measures to rectify the problem are information dissemination and the use of iodized salt.

    Key Takeaways

    What’s the importance of iodine in pregnancy? Experts say it’s crucial for the baby’s overall development, since it affects the production of thyroid hormones. Pregnant women should ensure they are getting enough iodine throughout their pregnancy.

    Learn more about Pregnancy Problems here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Sources

    The Effects of Iodine Deficiency in Pregnancy and Infancy, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/230613481_The_Effects_of_Iodine_Deficiency_in_Pregnancy_and_Infancy

    Accessed June 11, 2021

    Poor iodine levels in women pose risks to fetal intellectual development in pregnancy, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210422093858.htm#:~:text=Poor%20iodine%20levels%20in%20women%20pose%20risks%20to%20fetal%20intellectual%20development%20in%20pregnancy,-Date%3A%20April%2022&text=Summary%3A,due%20to%20poor%20iodine%20intake.

    Accessed June 11, 2021

    Iodine, https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/

    Accessed June 11, 2021

    Thyroid Hormone Production and Function, https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/ug1836

    Accessed June 11, 2021

    Iodine Deficiency, https://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/

    Accessed June 11, 2021

    Iodine Status in Filipino Women of Childbearing Age, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6145958/

    Accessed June 11, 2021

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    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Jun 22
    Medically reviewed by Kristina Campos, MD