The benefits of iodine in conjunction with vitamin D during pregnancy

It is important to consume enough iodine and vitamin D during pregnancy for the normal health and development of the baby. While vitamin D looks after the baby’s developing skeleton, iodine looks after their developing brain.

Although iodine is required in very small amounts, it is essential for a number of body functions including the regulation of thyroid hormones which is responsible for maintaining the body’s metabolic rate and supporting healthy growth and development. Maintaining adequate iodine levels is particularly important during pregnancy and when breastfeeding as it may assist with normal healthy hearing and brain development before birth, in babies and in young children.

How much iodine do I need during pregnancy and how do I ensure I get enough?

It is recommended that expectant mothers consume 220mcg of iodine daily and women who are breastfeeding consume 270mcg to support the normal health and development of their baby. Iodine requirements increase during pregnancy because the thyroid is particularly active and produces about 50% more thyroid hormones than usual.1 When breastfeeding, infants use their mother’s iodine to build their own reserves of thyroid hormones.1While a portion of the recommended amount of iodine can be reached through a healthy balanced diet, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommends that all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy, take an iodine supplement of 150mcg daily to ensure their needs are met.1 In addition to a specialised iodine pregnancy supplement, expectant and breastfeeding mothers can obtain extra iodine by consuming:

  • Moderate amounts of seafood such as fish,2 particularly low‐mercury types including salmon, canned tuna, herring, sardines and anchovies.3 Avoid shark, orange roughy, swordfish and ling which contain high amounts of mercury.2
  • Fortified bread2
  • Dairy products and eggs2

Women with pre‐existing thyroid conditions should consult their medical professional before taking a supplement1