Importance of Iodine in Your Pregnancy Diet


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When reading about the necessary elements to be present in the right quantities in nutrition, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 acids, and tons of others will cloud your head every day. One of those rarely makes the cut because it is generally considered to be present by default, thanks to the salts we have. This is iodine, and its importance cannot be underestimated at all. Not only is it vital in general life, but it plays a key role in a pregnant woman as well.

Why is Iodine Important during Pregnancy?

The iodine needs during pregnancy are quite different from our usual requirements as an adult. 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 your heartbeat and temperature. This need to be perfect to keep the foetus healthy, as well as makes sure that your baby’s thyroid gland develops properly, too. The risks with an improperly developed thyroid gland range from various birth defects to developmental delays, cretinism, and can even be fatal.

After your baby is born, iodine still needs to be present in your body in appropriate quantities, since that is how your baby will be getting it as well. Consumption of iodine from a mother’s breastmilk is important for an infant to continue with the development of body and brain on schedule.

Role of Iodine in Baby’s Brain Development

There’s a reason why iodized salt is found so easily in today’s times. The link of iodine deficiency, even in the mildest forms, has been established with the poor mental development of a child. Various studies have observed children be struggling with reading skills or having poor IQ when it comes to verbal communication when they have had iodine deficiencies or were born to mothers who had them. 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 during pregnancy are quite different from those in non-pregnant women or in lactating mothers. Generally, lactating mothers require higher iodine of 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 rich in iodine for pregnancy in women that can help them 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. Many women tend to prefer eating seaweed since it contains substantial iodine in them. But that needs to be done in small quantities to prevent overdosing on it.


Can You Take Iodine Supplement 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 pretty ubiquitous 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 Intake of Iodine 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 causing 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.

  • Any changes in the weather could be enough to 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, keeping your doctor in the loop is your best bet.

Also Read:

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