New research suggests that being deficient in iodine while pregnant could lower the IQ of your baby.
The study, published in the Lancet, showed lower IQs and reading scores in primary school pupils whose mother had had too little iodine while pregnant, according to the BBC. The study showed that iodine deficiency was common and affected two-thirds of women.
Iodine is a building block of hormones made in the thyroid gland, which control the way the body grows and uses energy and is particularly important when the brain is developing.
In pregnancy, you need 50% more iodine than normal, because the thyroid needs to build hormones for you and your baby in early pregnancy. As the baby grows, it still needs iodine, which it gets from the mother’s diet. After birth, breast milk provides essential iodine for the baby.
In the UK, the main source of iodine is milk. Other dairy products and fish are also great sources of iodine. Researchers do not advise taking seaweed or kelp supplements as these contain “excessive” levels. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 250 micrograms per day, other adults need 150mcg.
Good sources of iodine: Milk, yoghurt, eggs, cheese, white fish, oily fish, meat, poultry, nuts, bread, fruit and veg. Iodine levels in organic milk are 42% lower than regular milk so the advice is, if you’re drinking organic milk, you need to drink more of it.
Dr Mark Vanderpump was reported by the BBC as warning pregnant women against suddenly starting to take supplements.
“If you take a supplement during pregnancy, the thyroid gets stunned and goes down. Taking a supplement during pregnancy may not be the best thing to do,” Dr Vanderpump said.