Intake of Iodine in Pregnancy: Importance, Food Sources & more

Importance of Iodine in Your Pregnancy Diet

A pregnant woman’s diet should comprise of essential minerals and vitamins that are vital for a baby’s optimum growth and development. One of the nutrients that a woman should get in adequate amounts from the food she eats is iodine. Iodine is a mineral that can help in the brain development (and physical development) of the foetus. Although women might need very less amount of it during pregnancy, that little bit is important. If you’re pregnant, read this article to understand why we are stressing on adding an adequate amount of iodine in your pregnancy diet.

Why is Iodine Important During Pregnancy?

Iodine requirements of a pregnant woman are quite different from the usual requirements of an adult or of a woman who is not pregnant. When pregnant, iodine is what keeps the thyroid gland functioning properly, which is the control nexus for the optimal functioning of various vital bodily functions, including the heartbeat and temperature. A woman needs enough iodine in her diet for the healthy growth of the foetus, and to make sure that the baby’s thyroid gland develops properly, too. The risks associated with an improperly developed thyroid gland can range from birth defects to developmental delays, and can even be fatal.

After the birth of the baby, iodine still needs to be present in the woman’s body in appropriate quantities, since that is how the baby will be getting it as well. A baby will get iodine (and other nutrients) from the mother’s breast milk, and will help in the development of the baby’s body and brain on schedule.

Role of Iodine in Baby’s Brain Development

The link of iodine deficiency, even in the mildest forms, has been established with the poor mental development of a child. It is believed that children who tend to have struggle reading or have a poor IQ when it comes to verbal communication could have had iodine deficiencies at some point. The thyroid gland is indirectly related to the development of the brain, and the thyroid hormone production can continue unabated only when the presence of iodine in the body is at an optimal level.

Recommended Iodine Intake for Pregnant Women

The iodine requirements of a pregnant woman are different from women who are not pregnant or are lactating mothers. Generally, lactating mothers require a higher amount of iodine, i.e., around 290mcg as compared to non-pregnant women, who need around 150mcg on a daily basis. Pregnant women need to have at least 220 mcg of iodine on a daily basis. This doesn’t have to be per day but can be averaged out over a week or so.

Iodine-rich Food Sources

There are various foods that are rich in iodine and can be consumed by pregnant women to maintain optimal levels of the same without much worry.

Milk products, vegetables, and seafood tend to contain good proportions of iodine, based on how much iodine is present in the surrounding water and soil. Sometimes, seafood items can contain a higher proportion of iodine than is deemed healthy. But women should not eat seafood, especially raw seafood. If you wish to include seafood in your pregnancy diet, you should do so only after checking your doctor or nutritionist.


Can You Take Iodine Supplements While Pregnant?

Since it is so important to maintain a good level of iodine during pregnancy, supplements that can provide the same might be opted by pregnant women to help achieve it. But that generally is not needed.

Yes, going for prenatal vitamins and other supplements is a necessity when you are pregnant and it might come to your notice that they don’t tend to contain iodine. That is because iodine content is usually satisfied from numerous other sources. Iodized salt is the first and best source of it, which is found in every home today. Most commercial brands have the right proportion of iodine in their salt.

In case you are limiting your consumption of salt for health reasons, take a quick check of the amount of iodine you might be getting from other sources and balance them out accordingly.

Effect of Excessive Iodine Intake During Pregnancy

Just like any other nutritive element out there, it stays nutritive only when it is consumed in an amount that is optimum for the body. The same goes for iodine as well.

It is generally recommended that the consumption of iodine should not exceed beyond 1000 mcg on a daily basis. Consuming a lot of iodine on a regular basis can, in fact, result in hypothyroidism in you as well as your child, or even be the reason for thyroid cancer. If you have a prenatal supplement that does contain some proportion of iodine, that usually shouldn’t be a problem. But taking any additional iodine supplements is not advised for this exact reason since all supplements begin at a dosage of 500mcg of iodine itself.

Signs and Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency in Pregnancy

The lack of iodine in pregnancy can be spotted in a woman over a period of time since it doesn’t have signs that are strong enough to signify it. Here are some signs of iodine deficiency.

  • Any changes in the weather make you fall ill.
  • Unexplained increase in weight even when the diet is unchanged.
  • A general feeling of weakness and lethargy in the body
  • A possibility of depression setting in.
  • Scans showing an enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Maintaining a healthy level of iodine within the body is not a difficult task. Keeping a good diet, using iodized salt in your preparations, and ensuring a well-rounded nutrition can keep you and your baby healthy. In case of taking any medications to treat thyroid related conditions, checking with your doctor would be your best bet.

Also Read:

A Simple Diet Plan for a Pregnant Woman
Foods to Eat during Pregnancy
Healthy Indian Diet during Pregnancy

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