Why is iodine important during pregnancy? And how can seaweed help?
Iodine is an essential nutrient required throughout life – but did you know why it’s so important to include in your pregnancy diet?
Firstly, iodine has to be obtained through diet: during pregnancy you’re likely to need even more iodine to account for the additional requirements of both mother and baby*.
Iodine is essential for normal foetal development, especially for your babies developing brain. It’s continuously required following pregnancy, during breast feeding and throughout childhood to ensure optimal brain development. Evidence has shown that deficiencies in iodine can impact on cognitive health and development as your child develops.
And for adults – including expectant mothers – a diet lacking in iodine can affect the overall function of your thyroid. An underactive thyroid can result in a lowered metabolic rate along with several other possible health issues, including tiredness, brittle hair and nails, a poor memory and possible weight gain.
Research has shown that many pregnant women are iodine deficient – and it has an impact on their babies
One of the major findings to come out of current scientific research is the effect that iodine deficiency has on foetal and early childhood brain development. The research suggests that iodine deficiency results in a lower IQ.
In fact, the UK currently ranks seventh among the ten most iodine-deﬁcient nations in the world, one of only two high-income countries on the list. A recent UK study of 1040 mothers found that 62% were deficient in iodine and those within this category had a higher chance that their children were in the bottom 25% of IQ test results.
A study conducted in Norway, found that low iodine levels (below 100μg/L) in mothers during pregnancy were associated with lower language skills in children up to 18 months of age. 28% of the 851 mothers who participated in the study were classified as having severe iodine deficiency.
How much iodine do you need during pregnancy?
The European Food Safety Association (EFSA) recommends an intake of 150μg of iodine per day. EFSA and the World Health Organisation recommends consuming a further 50-100μg for those who are pregnant and lactating. And, if you’re trying for a baby, you should try and consume adequate iodine regularly before conception.
Not getting enough? Eat more seaweed!
Seaweed is naturally rich in iodine and in fact the only naturally good vegan source of iodine. Humans have consumed seaweed for millennia as a readily available and nutrient dense source of incredible and essential nutrition.
Most seaweeds are actually edible but harvesting your own seaweed, recognising the optimum iodine-rich seaweeds for cooking, ensuring it comes from a wholly pollutant-free beach and preparing it for consumption is likely to be challenging for most of us.
To make it easy for you to add more seaweed to your diet and increase your levels of essential iodine during your pregnancy, we’ve partnered with Seaweed & Co who produce a range of seaweed based products including ‘Weed & Wonderful’ seaweed capsules which are safe and ideal for pregnant women. Created from Ascophyllum nodosum, every batch of capsules is measured and recorded to ensure consistent natural levels of iodine.
About Seaweed & Co
Seaweed & Co, was founded by marine biologist Dr Craig Rose. Their Organic and Kosher certified seaweeds are supplied into the food, health and nutrition markets. Their seaweeds are sustainably wild harvested, naturally rich in iodine, uniquely DNA Authenticated for world class analytical traceability, and extensively batch tested and accredited for safety and quality.
*This is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
**National Health Service (NHS) (2015), https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/iodine-supplements-could-help-mums-babies-and-the-economy. [date accessed: Jan 2020]