Why do you need iodine when pregnant? – [and how much you need]

When you are pregnant, your body goes through a lot of changes. Among these changes, the need for certain vitamins and minerals increases in order to support both you and your growing baby. One such mineral is iodine. But why do pregnant women need iodine? And how much should they be getting? Today we’re going to explore just that!

Benefits of working out during pregnancy

Iodine is necessary for your baby’s growing brain, bones, and nervous system throughout pregnancy. When you’re pregnant or nursing, you need more iodine than normal. Iodine may be found in milk, eggs, and shrimp, and roughly half of all table salt is iodine-enhanced to avoid deficiency. If your prenatal vitamin includes iodine and you consume a well-balanced diet, you won’t require an iodine supplement throughout pregnancy.

Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone levels must be adequate throughout pregnancy in order for the baby’s brain to grow normally. Expectant mothers need to have more iodine than non-pregnant individuals because mothers must produce more thyroid hormone to provide for their babies and more iodine is excreted in urine during pregnancy. Even in some wealthy nations, it is believed that pregnant women do not obtain sufficient iodine.

Is iodine safe during pregnancy?

Yes. Iodine promotes the growth and development of the body, particularly the brain. Pregnant and nursing women need extra iodine because their newborns acquire it from their moms. Choose iodine-rich foods throughout pregnancy and lactation, and take an iodine supplement every day. Iodine-rich foods include well-cooked shellfish, milk, eggs, various cereals, and bread.

Why do you need iodine when pregnant?

The thyroid gland, located at the base of your neck, needs iodine to work effectively. The thyroid is in charge of regulating the hormones that govern your metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, and other vital activities.

Iodine guarantees that your baby develops a healthy and balanced thyroid as well. When a fetus’ thyroid is undeveloped, it may cause difficulties such as diminished intelligence, developmental delays, deafness, decreased physical and developmental growth, and other issues.

Because you transfer iodine to your infant via your breast milk, iodine is also important during breastfeeding. That means the iodine you took throughout pregnancy will continue to help your baby’s brain and thyroid development until she stops nursing and starts eating solid foods.

How much iodine do you need during pregnancy?

The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements advises that women get 150 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per day before pregnancy, 220 mcg during pregnancy, and 290 mcg while breastfeeding because iodine is so important for fetal health.

Your prenatal vitamin may provide enough iodine, but this relies on the sort of supplement you’re consuming. In addition, according to a recent study, only approximately half of the prenatal vitamins sold in stores contain iodine.

Pregnant and lactating women should take a regular multivitamin or prenatal supplement providing 150 mcg of iodine, according to the American Thyroid Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Keep in mind that you’ll require more iodine than normal throughout pregnancy and nursing. Here’s how much:

  • Pregnant women: 220 micrograms (mcg) per day
  • Breastfeeding women: 290 mcg per day
  • Nonpregnant women: 150 mcg per day

Symptoms of Iodine deficiency in pregnancy:

Heavy or Irregular Periods

An iodine deficit may lead to heavy and irregular menstrual flow. Given that iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones, this, like most other signs of iodine deficiency, is linked to low thyroid hormone levels.

Trouble Learning and Remembering

A lack of iodine might impair your capacity to learn and remember things. A study of over 1,000 people indicated that those with greater thyroid hormone levels outperformed those with lower thyroid hormone levels on learning and memory tasks.

Thyroid hormones aid brain development and growth. That’s why a lack of iodine, which is essential for the production of thyroid hormones, might impair brain growth.

Changes in Heart Rate

The number of times your heart beats each minute is referred to as your heart rate. Your iodine levels may have an impact. If you don’t get enough of this mineral, your heart will beat slower than normal, and if you get too much, your heart will beat faster than usual.

An excessively slow heart rate might be caused by a severe iodine deficit. This may make you feel weak, tired, disoriented, and even cause you to pass out.

Feeling Colder Than Usual

A typical sign of an iodine deficit is feeling chilly. According to research, over 80% of persons with low thyroid hormone levels may be more susceptible to cold temperatures than typical. Because iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones, a deficit might result in a drop in thyroid hormone levels.

Decreased thyroid hormone levels may cause your metabolism to slow down since thyroid hormones assist regulate the pace of your metabolism. Because a slower metabolism produces less heat, you may feel cooler than normal.

Dry, Flaky Skin

Many women with an iodine shortage have dry, flaking skin. In fact, up to 77 percent of persons with low thyroid hormone levels had dry, flaky skin, according to some of the research.

Thyroid hormones, which include iodine, aid in the regeneration of skin cells. When thyroid hormone levels have dropped, this regeneration is less frequent, which may result in dry skin.

Hair loss

Thyroid hormones contribute to the regulation of hair follicle development. Hair follicles may cease renewing if your thyroid hormone levels are insufficient. Hair loss may occur as a consequence of this over time. As a result, individuals who are deficient in iodine may have hair loss.

Hair loss was seen in 30% of patients with low thyroid hormone levels in a study of 700 adults. Low thyroid hormone levels, on the other hand, seem to trigger hair loss exclusively in those who have a familial history of hair loss, according to other research.

Fatigue and Weakness

Iodine shortage is also associated with fatigue and weakness. According to some of the research, approximately 80% of patients with low thyroid hormone levels, which occur in situations of iodine shortage, experience fatigue, sluggishness, and weakness.

Thyroid hormones aid in the production of energy, which causes these symptoms. The body can’t produce as much energy as it normally can when thyroid hormone levels are low. It’s possible that your energy levels may drop and you’ll feel weak as a result of this.

Swelling in the Neck

The most typical sign of an iodine shortage is swelling in the front of the neck. A goitre is a condition in which the thyroid gland gets abnormally large.

The thyroid gland is a tiny butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. When it receives a signal from the thyroid-stimulating hormone, it produces thyroid hormones (TSH).

To produce thyroid hormones, the thyroid utilizes iodine when TSH levels are elevated in the bloodstream. The problem is that if your body is deficient in iodine, it cannot produce enough of these hormones.

Thyroid hormone production is increased as a result of the gland working harder. Cells multiply and grow, eventually leading to a goitre. Nevertheless, increasing your iodine intake may treat the majority of instances. In the long term, however, untreated goitres can permanently damage the thyroid.

Iodine rich foods for pregnancy


When you think of prunes, think of dried plums. Iodine may be found in a variety of foods, including prunes. Iodine content in five dried prunes is 13 mcg or roughly 9% of the RDA.

Prunes are one of the most prevalent applications for constipation. This is due to the high levels of fiber and sorbitol, sugar alcohol, that they contain. Nutrient-dense prunes are a good source of many vitamins and minerals.


Iodine may also be found in eggs. While an average egg usually contains about 100 calories, it is packed with protein, good fats, and micronutrients. The yolk, in fact, contains the majority of these nutrients, along with iodine.


Additionally, tuna is a low-calorie, high-protein, and iodine-rich source of food. Tuna contains omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Iodine levels are lower in fish that are rich in fat. iodine content in tuna is lower than in leaner fish, such as cod, since tuna is fattier.


Iodine may be found in large quantities in shrimp: alow-calorie, high-protein seafood. Shrimp is also an excellent source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus are also found in shrimp.

Iodine may be found in shrimp and other shellfish because they absorb part of the naturally occurring iodine in saltwater. About 35 mcg of Iodine, or 23% of the daily recommended intake, can be found in a serving of shrimp.

Iodized Salt

In Canada, you may buy iodized and unionized salt. In the 1920s, the United States started adding iodine to table salt in an effort to reduce the incidence of goitres, which is a swelling of the glandular tissue of the thyroid.

1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt has 71 mcg of iodine or 47% of the daily required value. However, salt contains sodium as well, which should be consumed carefully.

Iodine consumption has dropped during the last several decades. This is most likely because prominent health groups are urging people to limit their daily salt consumption in order to avoid or cure high blood pressure. 

Dairy foods

Iodine is often found in dairy products. The iodine content of the cow diet and the application of iodine-containing disinfectants during milking have a significant impact on the quantity of iodine found in milk and dairy products.

The iodine level of 18 different Boston-area milk brands was evaluated in a detailed investigation. All of the 18 brands tested had at least 88 mcg of calcium per 8 ounces of milk, the study showed. 168 mcg was the maximum amount found in a single cup of certain brands. 59–112 percent of the required daily iodine intake may be found in one cup of milk, according to these findings.


Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals abound in seaweed. It has fewer calories than other options. Iodine is abundant in seaweed, making it an excellent food source. The quantity, on the other hand, might vary greatly depending on the kind of seaweed, the place where it was harvested, and the method used to prepare it. Kombu kelp, wakame, and nori are three common types of seaweed.

Final words:

As a pregnant woman, you may have been wondering what you need to take care of your health and the baby’s development. In this blog post, we discussed some foods that are high in iodine as well as how much is recommended for pregnancy. We also talked about why it’s important to get enough iodine during pregnancy. If reading this has got piqued your interest then check our blog out regularly for new posts with valuable information just like this one! 

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