Iodine Needs Not Being Met in Pregnancy

Interesting piece on iodine for you today – this is an indication of how many people are actually iodine deficient, not just pregnant women. I am finding it a lot via the iodine loading test, which I do primarily to check for the cause of conversion problems in the thyroid. It’s amazing how often it is pretty low. That rather stuns me as I was never taught to check iodine really; it is very much assumed in the UK that we all have enough. Not what I am finding though, so I thought I would share this for you in case.

With the UK population now classified as mildly iodine-insufficient many people may be thinking that it doesn’t affect them directly, or that they don’t have a thyroid problem so why should they take any notice?

Low iodine in the population is a serious problem for women who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant. Adequate levels of iodine are crucial for foetal neuro development and mild iodine deficiency has been linked with developmental impairments. A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition has revealed that most women are not only oblivious to their requirements but are not meeting current iodine recommendations for pregnancy.

Daily iodine intake is recommended by WHO to be 250µg/d for pregnancy (150µg/d for the general population) and the team of researchers from the University of Glasgow found that almost three quarters of women surveyed were not reaching this target even when taking supplementation into account. Over half of the women were unable to identify any iodine-rich foods and a majority falsely believed that dark green vegetables and table salt (which is not fortified in the UK) were iodine rich foods. An alarming 84% of women were unaware that iodine from the diet is important for the healthy development of their unborn baby.

This study has sparked much debate as to how mothers should best achieve their 250µg/d during pregnancy and lactation. Currently in the UK there are no guidelines on supplementation of iodine as there are in Canada and the US. These supplemental recommendations are endorsed by WHO in recognition of the fact that achieving adequate iodine from dietary intake in early pregnancy can be challenging and requires high intakes of dairy and seafood. What is clear in the UK is that health campaigns, fortification, supplementation and nutrition education should be seriously considered when addressing pregnant women.

Reference:
Combet E et al. Iodine and pregnancy: Awareness and intake. 2015.  British Journal of Nutrition. First view article DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007114515001464 Source Nutri E news June 15

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