Iodine is a mineral found in soil and seawater. It is something that the body does not make, but it is essential for the health of your thyroid; as it is a component of the thyroid hormones. Therefore our intake must come from our diet.
During pregnancy our iodine requirements increase from 150mcg/day to 220mcg/day. This is so we can support the needs of the rapidly growing foetus, and ensure that they have enough for their own brain and thyroid development, as well as enough for mums thyroid.
Mild iodine deficiency in pregnancy has been shown to be related to poor thyroid function in mum and the foetus, as well as implications on brain development. A severe deficiency can be associated with stillbirth, congenital abnormalities, speech and motor difficulties, and more. So it is quite a serious issue.
In New Zealand we have low levels of iodine in our soil, so our homegrown foods have low concentrations. The iodine status in New Zealand has been a concern for some time; Iodised salt was implemented in the 1920's, with levels bumped up in 1934. Still not combating the problem, in 2009 there was a change for mandatory use of iodised salt in commercially baked bread.
Good food sources of iodine are diary products, cooked fish and seafood, and eggs. Seaweed containing foods like sushi can also be a good source. While not advocating for an increase in salt use, I would also encourage using iodised table salt over the 'fancy' sea salt and himalayan salt when you are adding it to foods.
During pregnancy we have access to a funded iodine only supplement of 150mcg/day via your GP or lead maternity carer (LMC). This is now recommended to take along with a balanced diet as it is felt that it is unlikely most women will meet their iodine requirements through diet alone. If you are taking a pregnancy specific multivitamin, this should have extra iodine added to it, but it pays to check. We also want to be careful that we don't go overboard with supplementation from various sources, so please check with your GP, LMC or dietitian before taking any additional iodine containing supplements.
If you would like to see some of the research that has been done in NZ relating to iodine there is some information at :
If you are concerned that you are not getting a good balanced diet and want to chat about how to change this, then give me a call :)