Almost everyone has heard the terms hypo- and hyperthyroidism, but how many know the role that iodine plays in the function of the thyroid and overall health? Although, it is an essential nutrient – many do not realize that they are deficient. It is especially important that women who are thinking about getting pregnant or are currently pregnant be aware of their levels. Let’s take a closer look at what iodine is and why our body needs it.
What is it?
Iodine is an essential nutrient that our body depends on the consumption of it through food + supplements. The best sources of iodine are…
- Table Salt
This nutrient is used to make thyroid hormones, which regulates your metabolism, heart rate, and temperature.
Iodine Deficiency = An Unhappy Thyroid
Two major consequences for women that have lower levels are possible infertility and poor fetal neurodevelopment. Because your needs are greater during pregnancy, supplements are necessary. Therefore, if you are planning to get pregnant in the near future is it never too early to start building up your iodine levels. In the JAMA, it states that iodine deficiency can cause infertility…
Compared with women with normal iodine levels or mild iodine deficiency, women with iodine-creatine ratios lower than 50 μg/g had a 46% lower chance of becoming pregnant in any menstrual cycle.
Below is a list of a few other consequences that iodine deficiency can lead to:
- Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid)
- Poor cognitive development
- Cretinism (Mental Retardation and other physical development issues)
Honestly, even with my background in nutrition, iodine was not at the top of my list of concerns when I became pregnant. I am happy to say that prenatal vitamins include this vital nutrient. So, although iodine deficiency is a serious issue, especially when pregnant or lactating, there are many options out there to help insure that you keep your iodine levels in check!
How to Spot Deficiency and Treatment Options
Iodine deficiency can only be diagnosed with clinical tests. Some symptoms of iodine deficiency can be, but not limited to, weight gain, fatigue, memory issues, feeling colder, hair loss, and more! If you are having any issues with your thyroid, are planning to come pregnant, are pregnant, or you are lactating, checking your iodine levels is never a bad idea.
Tests to request:
- Urinary iodine test
- Full Thyroid Panel
- Thyroid size evaluation
If your levels are low, you can easily start to include more in your diet with supplementation. Non-pregnant adults should be getting 150 μg/day or iodine, whereas pregnant and lactation adults need 250 μg/day according to the WHO recommendation. I highly recommend getting levels tested, instead of guessing you “may have a deficiency” because getting too much iodine can cause harm as well. This nutrient needs to be well balanced.
Although excess iodine exposure generally does not result in any apparent clinical consequences, thyroid dysfunction can occur in vulnerable patients with specific risk factors, including those with pre-existing thyroid disease, the elderly, fetuses and neonates.
As a nutritionist, I am here if you are having any concerns about your diet. I want you to live a life full of happiness, health, and lots of nutrients! When you become a mom, there can be tons of questions, concerns, and and emotions. Know that you have a mom behind you that wants to help you and your loved ones lead a healthy life.
Book your free 15-minute phone call with me today, and let’s see how we can get you the answers you are looking for! You have got this!