Facts & Recommendations
Iodine is an essential micronutrient which helps our body maintaining a variety of functions.
The best natural sources of iodine are saltwater fish, seafood and seaweeds. Other sources include dairy products and eggs as well as iodized table salt.
Iodine is a vital mineral that our body needs to produce the thyroid hormones. These hormones, mainly T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), control the growth and development of all organs of the nervous system, namely brain, muscles and skeleton.
Iodine is a key factor in the programming of fetal and infantile neurodevelopment.
Furthermore, iodine contributes to keeping the skin healthy and to regulate the energy balance.
Iodine in pregnancy
Pregnancy is associated with major modifications in thyroid function due to hormonal changes. More thyroid hormones are needed, therefore more is produced (about 50% at the beginning of pregnancy), which means that the maternal iodine intake must be adequately increased.
The fetal thyroid gland is already able to produce its own hormones from the 12th week. The ability to synthesize thyroid hormones depends entirely on the mother´s diet.
In addition, the need for iodine remains increased during breastfeeding, as the mother has to cover her and her child´s needs.
A sufficient supply of iodine is therefore essential during pregnancy and lactation.
Consequences of an iodine deficiency
An iodine deficiency in pregnancy has been associated with:
- maternal and fetal hypothyroidism and goitre
- maternal hypothyroxinemia
- higher risk of miscarriage
- low birth weight
- problems with growth
- cognitive impairments in children.
Irreversible damage can occur in infants as well as in early childhood if women do not provide enough iodine during pregnancy.
Hypothyroidism and Hypothyroxinemia
- Hypothyroism is a disease in which the body does not have sufficient thyroid hormone available. By an increased TSH level (Thyroid-stimulating hormone), the T4 level is reduced.
- Maternal hypothyroxinemia appears in healthy pregnant women (without any clinical signs or underlying thyroid pathology). Plasma T4 levels are lower than normal but circulating T3 and TSH levels remain normal.
All three hormones T3, T4 and TSH levels are relevant for determining whether thyroid disease is present.
Although salt is the main source of iodine in many countries. Medical specialists around the world recommend that women take iodine supplements during and after pregnancy to ensure that their iodine needs are met.
However, there is no general agreement on the recommended daily intake of iodine for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 250 µg (microgram), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) 200 µg, the American Thyroid Association (ATA) and the UK Iodine Group 150 µg.
Most dietary supplements for the period around pregnancy contain 150 µg of iodine, which is the upper limit for dietary supplements in some countries.
In case of some health disorders, for example a thyroid disease, it may not be recommended to take any additional iodine. You should however still cover your needs in the other essential nutrients for you and your baby. We have hence developed Folio® forte and Folio® iodine-free, allowing you to get enough folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 as advised throughout the pregnancy.