Studies have shown that globally almost 19 million children are born with a risk of being mentally disabled annually because of maternal iodine deficiency. It has also been noted that lack of adequate iodine persists even in children up to 2 years. The fact is iodine deficiency remains among the most prevalent, yet preventable cause of irreversible cognitive impairment globally and has been reported as a public health problem in more than 32 countries. It is worth noting iodine deficiency is more common in the population that lives in mountainous regions because of low iodine levels in the food supply. This article outlines a detailed view of iodine, its importance, source, and how pregnant women can know whether they are getting the right amount of iodine.
Iodine is a micronutrient that presents in food and among essential minerals, the fetus needs for brain development and growth. Adults need a small amount of iodine about 5g in the course of 70 years lifetime but regardless of the amount, it’s quite important in the body. Inadequate iodine in pregnancy and early childhood is the cause of intellectual disability in the world yet highly preventable. In the past one could easily get iodine from home-cooked meals because of iodized table salts which provided enough iodine. However, the content of iodine present in foods and beverages we consume today is quite low. What is even more concerning is that the sea salt most homes use is not iodized and few people do not realize the sea salt is no longer offering the same health benefits as iodized salt. This is why pregnant and lactating women are recommended to cook with iodized salt and consume the daily supplement with 150 mcg of iodine to get a total of 290 mcg daily.
The benefits of iodine in the body during pregnancy are immeasurable. It maintains the normal functioning of the thyroid. The thyroid is a gland on the base of the neck that is responsible for regulating hormones that control body metabolism, temperature, heart rate, and other vital body functions. Getting sufficient iodine ensures the baby develops a healthy and normal thyroid. If a fetus has underdeveloped thyroid it can lead to low IQ, deafness, birth defects, development delays, cretinism, and in extreme cases death. Iodine is important in lactating mothers because they pass iodine on to the baby through breast milk which is needed to support the baby’s thyroid and brain development.
You can get enough iodine from your prenatal vitamins, but sometimes you may not get enough. The other way to ascertain you are getting enough iodine is by eating a healthy pregnancy diet. Besides using iodized salt numerous whole foods are a natural source of iodine. For example, milk, low-fat, baked cod, shrimp, egg, dried prunes, apple juice among others.
To know whether you are getting enough iodine, a urine test can be done. In case you are worried about it, you can request for 24 hours urine collection test to confirm whether you have enough iodine levels in the body. Those are a few things we thought you should know about iodine.