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Iodine plays a significant role in pregnancy. Maintaining the proper supply of iodine is especially important for women during pregnancy, when the brain and nervous system are being shaped in the newly formed child's organism. What Diet Is Rich In Iodine? Is additional supplementation of this element recommended during pregnancy? What might the effects of iodine deficiency in pregnancy be?

Iodineplays an extremely important role in the proper physiology of our body. That is why it is so important, especiallypregnant . It is used for the production of thyroid hormones: thyroxine and triiodothyronine, which regulate dozens of metabolic and developmental processes. Deficiencies of this element in the prenatal period can lead to irreversible mental retardation, once called cretinism.

Iodine in pregnancy - natural sources of iodine

Iodine is a microelement commonly found in nature, incl. in rocks, soil, air and water. The main source of this element for the human body is food provided in the diet. Drinking water covers only about 10% of his average daily requirement.

So where do we find iodine? It is most often found in:

  • sea fish, including mackerel, cod, salmon,
  • molluscs and crustaceans,
  • sea algae,
  • but also chicken eggs and dairy products.

In turn, the content of this element in vegetables, fruits or cereals will depend mainly on the qualitative composition of soil and groundwater.

Iodine consumed with food is absorbed by our body in about 80-90% , while inorganic compounds (e.g. potassium iodide added in small amounts to table s alt in order to iodization) are absorbed practically completely.

It turns out that iodine is not only absorbed in the digestive tract, but can also be absorbed through the respiratory tract and epithelium.

That is why people exposed to deficiencies of this element, children and convalescents are recommended to visit the seaside more often and walk along the beach, where iodine is present in high concentration in the air.

The importance of iodine in the body

Most of the iodine present in the body is found in the thyroid gland, cells of which have the unique property of trapping itan element from the blood (the so-called iodine uptake).

Iodine stored in follicular cells is used in the process of synthesizing the main thyroid hormones:

  • thyroxine (T4)
  • and triiodothyronine (T3).

These hormones perform extremely complex functions, regulating metabolic and energy changes by means of feedback.

Their main tasks include :

  • regulation of growth and maturation, as well as cell differentiation of the nervous system and the function of the pituitary gland,
  • regulation of body thermoregulation,
  • stimulating metabolism (carbohydrate and fat metabolism, synthesis of new proteins),
  • regulation of oxygen consumption by cells as well as combustion processes,
  • regulation of calcium and phosphate metabolism (incorporation of calcium and phosphorus into the bones).

The secretion of T3 and T4 hormones is controlled by the pituitary gland, which releases thyrotropin (TSH) in response to falling T3 and T4 levels.

TSH, in turn, stimulates the thyroid gland to produce the above-mentioned hormones, thanks to which an adequate amount is always present in the body to ensure physiological functions.

It can therefore be said that iodine, while co-creating thyroid hormones, is an indispensable foundation for all these regulatory processes. This component, however, becomes particularly important during pregnancy, i.e. the period of turbulent differentiation of new tissues in the developing fetus.

Iodine in pregnancy - need

A woman's body produces more thyroid hormones during pregnancy. The developing baby, especially in the first trimester, is not able to synthesize thyroxine on its own, and therefore receives this hormone from the mother.

The production of thyroid hormones in a woman occurs only in the presence of iodine. Therefore, during pregnancy, this gland often grows significantly when it performs strenuous work. It has been observed that in geographic areas with iodine deficiency, the thyroid glands of pregnant women can increase in volume by nearly half!

Thyroxine and triiodothyronine play a key role in the maturation of cells and tissues in the fetal and neonatal period. Particularly important for a child's development is their influence on the nerve cells of the emerging organism and stimulating their division.

The effect of thyroid hormones on the nervous system of a young person begins as early as 10 weeks after conception. That is why it is so important to maintain the proper functioning of the thyroid gland in a pregnant woman and to optimally supply the growing fetus with iodine.

It is worth noting that the thyroid hormonesThey also regulate the mother's milk production and secretion (lactation) which begins shortly after giving birth.

The recommended daily dose of iodine requirement for adult women and men is approximately 150 µg . During pregnancy, iodine intake should be much higher, because also then the excretion of this element in the urine increases.

Currently, the World He alth Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women consume about220-250 µg of iodine daily and 290 µg during lactation .

Iodine in pregnancy - deficiency effects

Dietary iodine deficiencies lead to a variety of disorders known as iodine deficiency disorders (IDDs). These conditions can include, for example :

  • enlargement of the thyroid gland (so-called endemic nodular goiter),
  • lower IQ,
  • fertility disorders,
  • increases the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease.

These symptoms can occur at any age. The most dramatic consequences of iodine deficiency will occur in utero and in the neonatal period, causing permanent changes in the baby's developing brain and delayed psychomotor development.

The severity of symptoms is closely related to the degree of iodine deficiency. In extreme cases, the lack of a sufficient amount of this micronutrient and disturbances in the function of thyroid hormones may appear:

  • congenital mental retardation (cretinism),
  • combined with dwarfism,
  • hearing impaired
  • and old-fashioned looks.

These changes are impossible to undo even after the thyroid function has been corrected in the later stages of life.

Fortunately, such large iodine deficiencies and the associated effects occur today in the world rather sporadically, mainly in high-mountain regions such as the Andes, the Himalayas and central Africa.

Iodine in pregnancy - supplementation

In Poland, due to geographic location, mild iodine deficiencies were usually noted. Therefore, in 1997, as part of preventive he alth care, iodization of table s alt used in households was introduced, as well as enrichment of dietary supplements for pregnant and breastfeeding women with iodide.

Although the WHO currently recognizes Poland as a country with a he althy iodine level, research results show that onlyabout 50% of pregnant women take the recommended dose of iodine(approx. 250 µg / daily). This could possibly be due to the increased excretion of iodine in the urine during pregnancy in combination with poor nutrition.

It is not insignificantAlso the fact that some cruciferous vegetables in meals (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage) may block the absorption of nutrients from the food, including iodine compounds.

Eating large amounts of this group of raw vegetables over a long period of time may even inhibit thyroxine synthesis and lead to an overgrowth of the thyroid gland (goiter formation).

Fortunately, this risk is relatively low with a balanced diet and additional iodine intake.

Specialists recommend iodine supplementation with tablet preparations at a dose of 150 µg a day about 2-3 months before pregnancy . As a result, the future mother's body will have adequate supplies necessary for the increased production of thyroxine from the first trimester.

The only exception to this rule is women treated for severe hyperthyroidism, who should consult their endocrinologist before taking iodine.

Based on Polish guidelines, it can be assumed that additional iodine supplementation during pregnancy has a positive effect on the neuropsychological development of the child, is safe and recommended to all women.

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