Pregnancy & Birth

What to eat to avoid iodine deficiency during pregnancy

Meeting your iodine needs is super important during pregnancy.

By Melanie McGrice
Iodine is essential in thyroid hormone production (your thyroid is actually two glands that sit in your neck that secrete hormones). Thyroid hormones are needed to maintain the body's metabolic rate, which helps in controlling the body's energy production and oxygen use, but are particularly important during pregnancy.
Severe iodine deficiency can lead to miscarriage or still birth, but even a mild iodine deficiency may decrease your baby's IQ and learning abilities.
During pregnancy iodine requirements increase by approximately 50 percent to meet the needs of the mother and to ensure an adequate supply for optimal brain development of the unborn child. It is vital that women of child-bearing age have a diet that includes foods which are good sources of iodine, including dairy products, seafood and fortified bread.
Melanie McGrice is a fertility and prenatal dietitian. Image: Supplied.
Iodine is found in a wide range of food sources, but the amount of iodine in foods depends upon where and when the food was grown. The levels of iodine found in Australian soils are considered to be low.
Fish and seafood are some of the richest food sources of naturally-occurring iodine. As naturally-occurring iodine is low in the current Australian food supply, salt and bread are often fortified with iodine.
If you're trying to conceive, it is recommended that you consume an iodine-rich diet and fortify your diet with a 150mcg iodine supplement each day – unless you already have high thyroid levels. Image: Getty.

What to eat to avoid iodine deficiency during pregnancy

Seafood: Eating fish twice each week will supply most adults with enough iodine to meet their average iodine requirement. See which fish are safe to eat during pregnancy.
Bread: Bread is now made using iodised salt in Australia. This excludes organic breads.
Seaweed (kelp), dairy products and eggs: All offer additional dietary sources of iodine.
Vegetables: May contain iodine however this depends on whether the soil they are grown in is iodine rich.
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If you're trying to conceive, it is recommended that you consume an iodine-rich diet and fortify your diet with a 150mcg iodine supplement each day – unless you have high thyroid levels. This is just another reason why it's important to see a fertility dietitian before you conceive.
Melanie McGrice is a fertility and prenatal dietitian. For more information see www.melaniemcgrice.com

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