Iodine advice for pregnancy

Iodine advice for pregnancy

Iodine is an important nutrient that we need in very small amounts for a healthy thyroid and growth and development. As our bodies can only store small amounts of iodine, we need to eat foods high in iodine regularly.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding more iodine is needed for the development of baby’s brain and nervous system. Not enough iodine can lead to learning problems and affect physical development and hearing in babies and children.

Iodine is found naturally in seafood, some fish (such as flathead, tuna and salmon, including tinned varieties), dairy milk and most bread. When pregnant extra care is needed when choosing seafood to eat. Read more about food safety and mercury in fish

The amount of iodine needed each day is 150 micrograms. You can usually get this through the food you eat. In pregnancy more iodine is needed (220 micrograms) and this is higher again while breastfeeding (270 micrograms). This is why a supplement is recommended when pregnant and breastfeeding.

If you are planning a pregnancy or are likely to become pregnant, the current advice is:

  • take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms each day before you become pregnant
  • continue to take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms each day of your pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

If you have coeliac disease, are lactose intolerant or have a pre-existing thyroid condition you will need to talk to your doctor before taking an iodine supplement. You may need to take a different amount of iodine.

To get 150 micrograms of iodine, you’ll need to look for a special pregnancy supplement. They will usually contain other nutrients important for pregnancy such as folic acid. These are available over the counter from pharmacies. Your doctor, midwife, pharmacist or an Accredited Practising Dietitian can help you to choose the best supplement for your needs.