Pregnancy Nutrients: Iodine
The importance of iodine
Iodine is a key nutrient for pregnancy. As well as being involved in many functions and processes of the body, it is vital for your baby’s brain development. Learn what this trace element does and how to include it in your pregnancy diet.
|Typical values per 100ml|
|of which saturates||1.3||g|
|of which unsaturates||1.8||g|
|of which LCPs†||0.02||g|
|of which arachidonic acid (AA)||0.009||g|
|of which docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)||0.009||g|
|of which sugars||6.4||g|
|of which lactose||6||g|
|Vitamin A||66||μg (RE)|
|Vitamin E||1.2||mg (α-TE)|
|Iodine helps to support:
Normal cognitive development
Iodine: A vital nutrient for good health
Iodine is a trace element found in dairy foods, fish and some other foods. One of the less well-known nutrients, it has a vital role to play in your everyday health and your baby’s incredible journey from conception to birth.
Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones. These hormones affect the way your cells function, affecting the processes of your body, including heart rate and metabolism.
During pregnancy, your baby’s cells also rely on your iodine intake, including the cells in their rapidly developing brain.
Why you need more iodine during pregnancy
Iodine is important during pregnancy for three reasons:
- You need thyroid hormones for your own body processes
- Your body provides your baby with iodine
- It is thought that you might naturally lose more iodine than usual during pregnancy
Building a healthy brain
With your baby’s brain developing rapidly throughout pregnancy, a good supply of iodine is essential to building this complex organ.
A well-balanced diet that includes a healthy intake of iodine will support your baby’s developing brain, contributing to their learning and motor skills, and helping to set the stage for all future development.
Which contains more iodine, organic cows’ milk or regular cows’ milk?
Regular milk contains an impressive 50-80mcg of iodine per 200ml serving.
Organic milk only contains 30-65 mcg of iodine per 200ml serving.
Guidance on how much iodine to eat when pregnant
Despite being present in many foods, a 2013 study found that iodine deficiency is a public health concern.
The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women get 250mcg per day.
White fish is an excellent source of iodine, as are dairy foods, including yoghurt. It’s worth noting that the iodine content of dairy varies depending on the season, due to variations in how cows are fed throughout the year. Higher levels of iodine have been measured in milk over the winter when cows are fed on winter feed rations, compared with the summer, when lower levels have been measured. These seasonal changes have been linked to the amount of iodine in maternal diets. Because the best sources are animal-based, vegetarians and vegans may be at a higher risk of deficiency. Talk to your midwife about taking a pregnancy-safe iodine supplement if you think you might not be getting enough in your diet.
You can also increase your intake by replacing your regular salt with an iodised version. However, you shouldn’t increase your salt intake just to get more iodine. Iodised salt is just a fortified version.
Foods containing iodine:
|Food||Portion||Average nutrient quantity (mcg)|
|Organic cow's milk||200ml
|Fruit and veg||1 portion||3|
Boost your intake with the following iodine-rich meals and snacks:
- Kedgeree made with white fish and boiled eggs
- A bowl of
yogurtwith sliced almonds
- Prawn cocktail made with
- Jacket potato topped with cottage cheese or sardines
- A mug of hot milk before bedtime
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.