What’s the deal with iodine in the Australian food supply, and why is it an important nutrient for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning to become pregnant? Here’s the low-down for the mamas and mamas-to-be out there.
Iodine is a chemical element found in varying amounts in plant and animal foods. Our bodies don’t produce iodine – but it is essential for growth and survival. Adults need about 150 micrograms of iodine per day, but during pregnancy, iodine requirements increases. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need up to 200 micrograms daily.
Iodine is an essential nutrient needed for various thyroid hormones that play important roles in metabolic processes - particularly growth and energy production. During childhood, these hormones are essential for normal cognitive and physical development.
The ocean is a rich reservoir of iodine – with seafood and seaweed (such as kelp and nori) being the richest natural food sources available.
Several areas of Australia and New Zealand have soil that is low in iodine, and recent research suggests that mild iodine deficiency may be a widespread problem in the general population.
Foods that are fortified with iodine can be a good source. But while table salt is fortified with iodine, it’s not recommended that we increase our intake of salt in order to prevent iodine deficiency!
If you’re pregnant, breast feeding (or hoping to fall pregnant), iodine supplementation is recommended, to ensure optimal development of baby’s brain and nervous system.
You can find more information via www.nutritionaustralia.org or by consulting an Accredited Practising Dietitian.