The importance of iodine during pregnancy

Iodine is needed for the normal metabolism of cells. Metabolism is the process of converting food into energy. Humans need iodine for normal thyroid function, and for the production of thyroid hormones.

Pregnant women need higher levels of iodine, as lack of this nutrient can retard normal development in a baby. Eating two serves of seafood each week will not be enough to meet a woman’s iodine requirements during pregnancy. Severe iodine deficiency is associated with stunted physical and mental growth, and even marginal iodine deficiency can decrease brain functioning.

Doctors recommend that pregnant and breast-feeding women should take a supplement that includes at least 150 micrograms of iodide, and use iodized table salt. Besides boosting brain development, iodine also appears to help protect babies from certain environmental harms.

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering becoming pregnant, ask your doctor for advice about your individual daily needs. In particular, women with pre-existing thyroid conditions should not take iodine supplements until they have checked with their doctor.

Seafood is a valuable source of iodine, but pregnant women, or women intending to become pregnant within the next six months, should take care to avoid seafood that may contain large amounts of mercury....