Moms-to-be, keep your iodine levels during pregnancy in check! Here’s why
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
A well-balanced diet, rich in essential nutrients and minerals, is a secret weapon for a healthy body. Among these vital components, iodine holds a special place, despite its requirement in tiny amounts (around 140 micrograms per day). Iodine is particularly crucial for the development of the fetus, both physically and mentally. Unfortunately, the importance of these nutrients is often overlooked. Let’s explore why iodine is essential for fetal development and how you can ensure optimal levels during pregnancy.
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Why is iodine necessary in pregnancy?
Iodine plays a vital role in maintaining the body’s normal functions, particularly in regulating metabolism, body temperature, heart rate, and other vital bodily processes through the thyroid gland.
During pregnancy, iodine becomes even more critical as it ensures the healthy development of the fetus’s thyroid. While underdeveloped thyroid is rare, it can result in negative effects such as low IQ and slow physical and mental development in babies.
For this reason, women are advised to consume 150 mcg of iodine daily before pregnancy, followed by 220 mcg during pregnancy and 299 mcg while breastfeeding. Adequate iodine intake also plays a significant role in providing essential nutrients to your baby through breast milk, promoting healthy growth after birth.
Signs and symptoms of low iodine levels in the body
Understanding the significance of iodine during pregnancy, you must ensure that your body maintains appropriate iodine levels for your baby’s development. Here are some signs and symptoms indicating low iodine levels in your body:
1. Weight gain
Iodine is responsible for regulating thyroid hormones that govern metabolism. An imbalance of thyroid hormones due to iodine deficiency can affect your body’s metabolism. However, it’s important to note that weight gain isn’t always indicative of iodine deficiency.
Low energy levels and weakness can be symptoms of iodine deficiency. Insufficient energy may lead to difficulties in performing tasks that require strength.
A drop in your body’s metabolism leads to excessive tiredness and laziness.
4. Swollen neck
Iodine deficiency can cause the thyroid gland to swell, resulting in a noticeable enlargement in the neck area.
5. Dry skin
Dry skin is a common sign of hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones are essential for cell renewal, and their imbalance can lead to the accumulation of dead skin cells on the skin’s surface.
6. Hair loss
Thyroid hormones support healthy hair follicles and prevent hair loss. An imbalance in these hormones due to iodine deficiency may contribute to hair fall.
7. Heavy and irregular periods
In non-pregnant women, an imbalance in thyroid hormones can affect the levels of hormones that regulate menstruation.
Treatment options and how to maintain iodine levels?
If you suspect iodine deficiency, consult a doctor who will conduct a physical examination and may recommend a urine test. Additional tests, such as ultrasound, may be suggested to assess the thyroid gland thoroughly. Should iodine deficiency be diagnosed, you may be referred to an endocrinologist.
Treating iodine deficiency usually involves adopting an appropriate diet. Including iodine-rich foods like seafood, eggs, yogurt, and other iodine sources helps maintain optimal levels. In some cases, iodine supplements may be recommended.
Individuals with hypothyroidism, a condition caused by iodine deficiency, may be prescribed synthetic thyroid hormones, which they will need to take for the rest of their lives.
The final word
Iodine is not only essential for the normal functioning of your body but also plays a vital role in your baby’s development. Prioritize a well-rounded diet and make sure you’re getting the necessary iodine through your food choices. However, if you have any doubts, consult your doctor and consider undergoing tests to ensure your iodine levels are normal. By taking proactive steps, you can safeguard the health and development of both yourself and your baby during this precious time.