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Combat Iodine Deficiency During Childbearing Years

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Iodine is a crucial nutrient that assists in developing a baby's brain and nervous system. To be sure you're providing your baby with crucial nutrients, supplement your diet with iodine-rich foods like seaweed and don't skimp on prenatal vitamins.

by / Views 347 / September 24, 2015

In the history of nutrition science, iodine deficiency has plagued large segments of our population worldwide. Even today, more than 2.2 billion people suffer from lack of this crucial nutrient. But iodine has also been part of a public health success story. The United States implemented a simple program: adding iodine to the common table salt. This act served its purpose of virtually eliminating the problem of severe iodine deficiency in our country. However, early research is raising questions about whether we need to take a deeper look into mild to moderate iodine deficiency, especially in pregnant and breastfeeding women.

With the lack of iodine, comes many adverse effects on the human body.

Most intriguingly, severe deficiency is the single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation worldwide. It has also been linked to the cognitive function of children with regard to intellectual disability and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, more commonly known as ADHD.

Scientists have known for some time that iodine is imperative for assisting in the development of a baby’s brain and nervous system. A recent study published in The Lancet provides evidence that even mild iodine deficiency can be a factor in a child’s IQ later in life. The study used urine samples from 1,040 pregnant women in England and followed up eight years later by testing their children’s IQ scores. The researchers found that the women with lower urinary iodine concentration during pregnancy, indicating mild to moderate iodine deficiency, were more likely to have children with lower IQ scores at age 8, particularly in verbal and reading scores.

How can pregnant and breastfeeding women combat this ever-so-common iodine deficiency?

In the United States, pregnant women should get about 220 micrograms of iodine per day, whereas breastfeeding women should get about 290 micrograms per day. One simple way to make sure you are getting the sufficient amount of nutrients is to check your prenatal vitamin, making sure it provides at least 150 micrograms.

There are also a few foods you can eat to add a little bit of an iodine boost:

  • 1 cup of yogurt (75 micrograms)
  • 3 ounces of baked cod (99 micrograms)
  • 1 cup of milk (56 micrograms)

Also try supplementing your diet with iodine-rich foods like seaweed (sushi, anyone?) and prenatal vitamins so you can ensure that you are providing your baby with crucial nutrients.

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