Pregnant women should be cautious with iodine supplements

pregnancy diet

During pregnancy, an iodine supplement is often recommended for pregnant women. But beware: some food supplements contain very high doses, and an excess of iodine can be dangerous for the unborn child.

Iodine plays a major role in the functioning of the thyroid. In the United States, iodine intake from foods are generally considered adequate, and it is therefore not a problematic area in terms of deficiency. Iodine is found in iodized table salt, seafood (including seaweed and fish), as well as eggs and dairy products.

Increased needs during pregnancy

Thyroid function is increased during pregnancy because the thyroid hormones produced by the mother (and the baby as the pregnancy progresses) are essential for the growth and development of the child, especially the nervous system. . If women have too little iodine during pregnancy, the damage can be severe. The consequences of mild or moderate deficiencies are less clear. Too much iodine can also cause harm and negative effects on mothers and babies, such as causing the thyroid to become overactive.

In many cases, and to deal with any eventuality, doctors recommend that pregnant women take iodine supplements to help ensure that their needs are met.

A narrow safety margin

However, as the medical journal Prescrire explains, the difference between the recommended intake and the unsafe intake is not very large. Excessive iodine intake during pregnancy exposes the unborn child to thyroid disorders, including a risk of impaired intellectual development. In pregnant women, it is therefore useful to check the various iodine intakes, especially when consuming multivitamin food supplements. Prescrire indicates that some of those offered to pregnant women contain iodine in (very) high doses. On the Internet, you can find products that provide up to 50 times the recommended daily allowance.

Women who could become pregnant or who are already pregnant should know that overdoses of iodine supplements are dangerous for their unborn child, while a balanced diet (and if necessary adapted during pregnancy) should provide enough iodine on a daily basis. A deficiency situation that needs to be corrected must be diagnosed by a doctor on the basis of the results of the appropriate analyzes.