Moms-to-be, keep your iodine levels during pregnancy in check! Here’s why

Published on: 25 August 2022, 10:50 am IST

Keeping an eye on iodine levels during pregnancy is important not just for your health, but for your little one too!

nutrition during pregnancy
What you eat during pregnancy is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A good diet loaded with essential nutrients and minerals is one of the secrets behind having a healthy body. Iodine is essential in our diet, and it is considered as one of the most important nutrients in our body even though we only require it in the tiniest amount (around 140 micrograms per day). It has a special significance when it comes to the development of the fetus. Iodine helps in the physical and mental development of the baby. But sometimes we overlook the importance of nutrients and minerals in our diet. Here is why iodine is essential for fetal development.

Why is iodine necessary in pregnancy?

Iodine plays a vital role in maintaining normal functions of the body. It maintains the thyroid gland which regulates metabolism, body temperature, heart rate and other vital body functions.

Iodine ensures that the fetus develops in a healthy way and has a healthy thyroid. Having an underdeveloped thyroid is rare, but when a baby has an underdeveloped thyroid, they show negative signs like low IQ, slow physical and mental development.

Iodine is so essential in fetal development that women are advised to take 150 mcg each day before pregnancy. It should be 220mcg during pregnancy and 299mcg while breastfeeding.

Iodine plays a huge role in healthy breastfeeding. Since you pass iodine to your baby through your breast milk, make sure that there is sufficient iodine for their growth after birth.

iodine deficiency
Iodine deficiency is not good for health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Signs and symptoms of low iodine levels in body

Understanding the significance of iodine during pregnancy, you must be wanting to ensure that your body has the right amount of iodine for your baby’s development. Here are some signs and symptoms that suggest low iodine levels in your body –

1. Weight gain

We mentioned that iodine is responsible for the normal functioning of thyroid hormone which regulates metabolism. Imbalance of thyroid hormone can affect metabolism of your body. But it should also be noted that weight gain isn’t always a sign of iron deficiency.

2. Weakness

Low energy levels can be a symptom of iodine deficiency. Due to less energy, you may feel difficulty with performing tasks that take strength.

3. Tiredness

Due to the drop in your body’s metabolism, you will feel unusually tired and lazy.

4. Swollen neck

Lack of iodine can cause the thyroid gland to swell up. This is situated in the neck area.

5. Dry skin

Dry skin is a sign of hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormones help in cell renewal. Imbalance of it can cause the dead skin cells to build up on the skin.

6. Hair loss

Thyroid hormones support the renewal of hair follicles. An imbalance in these hormones can cause hair fall.

7. Heavy and irregular periods

When women are not pregnant,  a thyroid hormone imbalance can affect the levels of hormones that affect menstruation.

Treatment options and how to maintain iodine levels?

To diagnose the iodine deficiency, a doctor will do a physical examination and ask you to take a urine test. Further tests such as ultrasound can be suggested to take a good look at the thyroid gland. If you are diagnosed with iodine deficiency, you may be referred to an endocrinologist.

Iodine deficiency is generally treated with an appropriate diet. You have to include food that helps you maintain iodine levels like seafood, egg, yogurt etc. Some people also take Iodine supplements to maintain iodine levels.

People with hypothyroidism are treated with a special kind of synthetic thyroid hormone that they have to take for the rest of their lives.

The last word

Iodine is essential for not only the normal functioning of your body but also plays a vital role in your baby’s development. You need to look after your diet. You can get the iodine you need through a proper diet. If you have doubts, then you can consult your doctor and go for tests to ensure that your iodine levels are normal.

 

Dr. Swetha M.P Dr. Swetha M.P

Dr. Swetha M.P Consultant - Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital, HRBR Layout, Bengaluru

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