The importance of iodine in pregnancy

Becoming mum
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The importance of iodine in pregnancy

Salmon dish with iodine for pregnancy

Key points

  • Your baby’s development relies on your iodine intake
  • The recommended intake of iodine for pregnant women is 220µg (micrograms) per day
  • Find iodine in seafood, dairy and eggs, and through iodine supplements

Iodine is an essential mineral found in seafood, dairy foods, eggs and other food sources. It has a vital role to play in your everyday health and the incredible journey your baby takes from conception to birth.

Iodine is a necessary element in the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones affect the way your cells function, influencing the body’s processes, such as metabolism, physical development and hearing.

Why is iodine especially important during pregnancy?

To stay healthy during your pregnancy, you need thyroid hormones for your own body processes.

Additionally, because babies get iodine from their mothers, pregnant women have an increased requirement for iodine. Your baby’s cells rely on your iodine intake. A well-balanced diet that includes a healthy intake of iodine and a pregnancy multivitamin that includes iodine will support the normal development of your baby’s brain.

Guidance on how to get enough iodine when pregnant

Despite being present in many foods, iodine deficiency is still a health concern in many places. In Australia and New Zealand it is recommended that pregnant women get 220µg of iodine per day.

Most foods are relatively low in iodine. Seafood is a good source of iodine, as well as eggs and some dairy products. Australian and New Zealand governments have made it a requirement for iodised salt to be used in all breads (except organic) to help improve dietary iodine intake.

It is recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women in Australia and New Zealand that a healthy diet including dietary sources of iodine is supplemented with a 150µg iodine supplement each day to ensure iodine sufficiency for mother and baby. Many pregnancy multivitamins already include sufficient iodine, therefore speak to your health care professional to discuss your individual needs for an iodine supplement.

Foods containing iodine

The actual iodine content of food varies depending on where it is grown and where it is made but below gives a guide to how much iodine may be contained in some foods.

Food (100g/100mL) Iodine (µg)
Sardines 75.8
Bread roll with wholemeal flour 69.7
Poached egg 57.0
Snapper 56.0
Natural yoghurt 25
Cows’ milk 22.9
Steamed barramundi 2.2

Meal and snack ideas for an iodine-rich diet

  • A bowl of yogurt with sliced almonds
  • Scrambled egg made with milk and cheese
  • Jacket potato topped with cottage cheese or sardines
  • A mug of hot milk before bedtime
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