Iodine during pregnancy
Iodine during pregnancy is essential for your baby’s developing brain, skeleton, and nervous system. You need more iodine than usual when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Iodine is found in dairy products, eggs, and seafood – and about half of all table salt is enriched with iodine to prevent deficiencies. You probably won’t need an iodine supplement during pregnancy as long as your prenatal vitamin contains iodine and you eat a balanced diet.
Why do you need iodine in pregnancy?
Iodine is essential to the development of your baby’s brain, skeleton, and nervous system. It also regulates your baby’s metabolism (the rate at which the body uses energy).
Iodine also plays an important role in regulating your thyroid gland. A lack of iodine during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery, and stillbirth.
How much iodine do pregnant women need?
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, you need more iodine than usual. Here’s how much:
Pregnant women: 220 micrograms (mcg) per day
Breastfeeding women: 290 mcg per day
Nonpregnant women: 150 mcg per day
Best iodine-rich foods
Iodine is found in dairy products, eggs, and seafood. The amount of iodine in many types of food varies according to the amount of iodine in soil or water in the area.
Good food sources of iodine include:
- 3 ounces cod, baked: 158 mcg
- 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain, nonfat: 116 mcg
- 1 cup nonfat milk: 85 mcg
- 1.5 grams iodized table salt: 76 mcg
- 3 ounces fish sticks, cooked: 58 mcg
- 1 cup enriched pasta, boiled in water with iodized salt: 36
- 1 large egg, hard-boiled: 26 mcg
- 1-ounce cheddar cheese: 14 mcg
- 3 ounces tuna, canned in water, drained: 7 mcg
- 3 ounces chicken breast, roasted: 2 mcg
Do you need an iodine supplement during pregnancy?
If your prenatal vitamin contains iodine and you have a balanced diet, you probably won’t need to take a supplement during pregnancy. Still, you might want to tally your iodine intake for a day to make sure you’re getting enough. If you think you may be falling short of the daily requirement, talk to your healthcare provider about taking an iodine supplement.
You may be getting plenty of iodine from the salt you use: In the United States, about half of all table salt is enriched with iodine to prevent deficiencies. And most Americans get more than enough salt in their diets: The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the average American gets about 48 percent more salt than recommended. Much of this is from processed food, though, and the salt in processed food is rarely iodized.
To find out how much iodine you’re getting from table salt, read the label to see if your salt is iodized, and check the amount of iodine because it can vary widely. Note: Specialty salts like sea salt, kosher salt, Himalayan salt, and fleur de sel are usually not iodized.
Signs of an iodine deficiency in pregnancy
Iodine deficiencies are uncommon in the United States, but worldwide, iodine deficiencies are the single most important cause of preventable intellectual disability and brain damage. During pregnancy, iodine deficiency can cause irreversible negative effects for your baby.
Signs of thyroid problems from a lack of iodine include an enlarged thyroid gland, fatigue, weakness, depression, intolerance to cold, and weight gain. If you’re concerned that you may have an iodine deficiency, talk with your doctor or midwife.