Dianna Martino - Holistic Naturopath & Coach

Holistic Adelaide Naturopath

Nutrients in Pregnancy: Iodine

It is important to include a variety of healthy foods to cover all of the key nutrients during pregnancy.  Over the next few articles we are going to look at a few key nutrients and their specific functions for pregnancy and foetal development. In this article we will focus on the mineral iodine.

What is iodine used for?

  • Iodine is necessary for the creation of thyroid hormones T3 and T4, and these hormones effect metabolism and the early growth and development stages of most organs including the brain of the growing baby.
  • Iodine is required for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
  • The development of the nervous system of the foetus requires iodine.
  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 220mcg of iodine for pregnant women.

Iodine deficiency:

Women who do not consume enough iodine cannot make enough thyroid hormones. Mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy can cause a lower IQ in infants and children. During pregnancy, if iodine deficiency is severe it can cause stunted growth, mental retardation and delayed sexual development. (NIH) Severe iodine deficiency can also cause hypothyroidism, cretinism, decreased fertility, miscarriage, increased infant mortality.

Iodine deficiency is common in Australia, but it is important to know your levels before you supplement, as overdose of iodine can have serious consequences. Consuming high levels of iodine can actually cause some of the same symptoms as not enough iodine, such as goitre (enlarged thyroid gland).

Food sources of Iodine:

  • Fish (i.e. cod), seaweed, seafood (limit fish during pregnancy to 1-2 times per week and choose low mercury sources)
  • Fruits and vegetables, dependent on the content of iodine in the soil they were grown in.
  • Iodised salt (check the label)
  • Dairy products- milk, yoghurt, cheese (NIH)
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Irish moss
  • Lima beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Oysters
  • Sunflower seeds

Testing and Supplementing with iodine:

Check that your pregnancy multi vitamin contains iodine and talk to your health practitioner about having a urinary iodine test. This is a simple urine test, you provide a sample of urine and wait for the results. Once you have your iodine results you can dose appropriately in consultation with your health practitioner.