Consuming adequate amounts of iodine during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is extremely important. Iodine is a mineral essential for proper growth and development in babies. An iodine deficiency can cause developmental delays, mental retardation or stunted growth in babies and hypothyroidism in mothers. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, a significant number of pregnant women in the United States are iodine deficient based on results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, data from 2001 to 2008. Taking a prenatal vitamin that contains iodine can help prevent iodine deficiency in pregnant women and their babies.
Not all prenatal vitamin supplements contain iodine. The National Office of Dietary Supplements estimates that only 51 percent of prenatal vitamins in the United States contain iodine. However, most obstetricians encourage pregnant women to choose a prenatal supplement with iodine due to increased iodine requirements during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Based on the Institute of Medicine’s recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for iodine, adults require 150 micrograms of iodine per day, while pregnant women require 220 micrograms and nursing women require micrograms of iodine per day. The World Health Organization recommends pregnant women increase their iodine intake to 250 micrograms per day.
The American Thyroid Association encourages pregnant and nursing women to take a prenatal vitamin supplement that contains at least 150 micrograms of iodine per day. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, only an estimated 20 percent of pregnant women and 15 percent of breastfeeding women take a prenatal vitamin that contains iodine.
Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin
Always consult with your obstetrician before choosing a prenatal vitamin. Some prenatal vitamins are available only with a prescription. Look for one that contains omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA. Not all prenatal vitamin supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids; however, according to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant and nursing women should consume at least 300 milligrams of DHA per day. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that other important nutrients during pregnancy include iron, folate, calcium and vitamins A, C, D, B12 and B6, so make sure your multivitamin includes these vitamins.
Other Ways to Get Your Iodine
Usually, women can obtain at least part of their daily iodine requirement by eating foods that contain iodine. Much of the iodine in the typical American diet comes from iodized salt, but other iodine-rich foods include seaweed, fish, eggs and dairy products such as milk and yogurt. For example, 3 ounces of baked cod provides 99 micrograms of iodine, and 1 cup of reduced fat milk contains 56 micrograms.
- Office of Dietary Supplements; Iodine; April 2011
- Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes for Vitamins and Elements
- American Thyroid Association; Iodine Deficiency; 2008
- American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Nutrition During Pregnancy; 2011
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.