Iodine, Thyroid and Pregnancy
Research shows that women from iodine-deficient areas should use iodized salt for at least 2 years before becoming pregnant to prevent thyroid problems during pregnancy and to protect the fetus against the harmful effect of iodine deficiency on brain development.
The thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck and a key part of the endocrine system, produces hormones and helps regulate the body’s metabolism.
There is an increased risk of neurological development problems in infants born to mothers who had low levels of thyroid hormone in early pregnancy. Even mild isolated thyroid problems can interfere with fetal brain development.
Researchers found that the rate of thyroid failure was nearly 6 times higher in short-term users of iodized salt compared with long-term users.
In the clinic, I often see people whose concerns include low energy, sluggish metabolism, can’t lose weight or gain weight easily, hard to get out of bed in the morning, thinning hair and feeling cold even in the summer. While there are many possible explanations, low thyroid function could be one reason for these symptoms. I will often ask if they are consuming iodized salt. Sea salt, while it’s healthier than regular table salt, is often NOT iodized. Supplementing salt with iodine was a public health initiative designed to top up everyone’s iodine intake in areas where the soil is particularly iodine deficient. Those on salt restricted diets or who are using salt that is not iodized, run the risk of an iodine deficiency. My recommendation is to ensure that everyone is using a little iodized sea salt each day or you can also get iodine naturally by consuming seaweed like kelp, wakame or bladderwrack.
There are several other nutrients that are essential for healthy thyroid function, including copper, zinc, selenium and tyrosine. Supporting these nutrients can sometimes turn around an underactive thyroid, but more often than not, a sluggish thyroid is due to Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid problem. Treating that successfully is a whole other, bigger kettle of fish!
Warning: Too much iodine can also be bad for your thyroid, so only supplement with iodine under the supervision of a naturopathic doctor.
To increase your iodine intake there’s a new recipe for seaweed salad in the healthy recipes section on our website to check it out click here.