Why should I care about my iodine intake when I’m pregnant? How much should I be getting? How much iodine should be in my prenatal? Registered Dietician Lauren Manaker answers these questions and more.


By Lauren Manaker, RD

Folate is the superstar of nutrients when a woman becomes pregnant (and for good reason). What some women don’t realize is that there are some unsung heroes in the nutrient world that are important to your growing baby too. One nutrient in particular is iodine.

What is iodine?  

Iodine is a trace element that can be found naturally in some food. One main function of iodine is that it plays a part in hormone regulation. In one study, the researchers conclude that iodine intake may potentially change the weight of your placenta (in a good way!).  

Iodine also plays a key role in fertility. A condition called cretinism (a condition of severely stunted physical and mental growth) is thought to be linked to maternal iodine deficiency. This nutrient is also essential for brain function for you and for your baby. Iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of brain damage worldwide.

How much iodine do I need when pregnant?

When you get pregnant, your needs for iodine increase due to many reasons, including the transfer of iodine to the fetus. Therefore, it is important to get this key nutrient in your diet. If you are unable to take in enough iodine through your diet, supplementation may be necessary.

How much iodine do you need? Your needs increase from 150 mcg to 220 mcg/day when you become pregnant. The Natalist Prenatal has the recommended 150 mcg.

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Lauren Manaker

Five ways to get iodine through your diet

  1. One simple way to help reach your goal is to make sure the salt you are using on your food is iodized. Don’t make a point to increase your salt intake, just make the switch to iodized while you are pregnant to get in this nutrient.
  2. A great snack for pregnant women is seaweed snacks. They are easy to throw in a bag and a yummy treat. Brands vary with the iodine content, but many brands will provide you with 100% of your daily iodine needs in one serving.
  3. If you’d rather incorporate iodine and DHA through your diet instead of a prenatal Omega DHA supplement, cod is relatively inexpensive and provides iodine along with other nutrients like DHA. Three ounces of cod will help you meet approximately half of your daily requirements of iodine.
  4. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are well-known for their calcium content, but these foods are also great sources of iodine. Content varies based on the source and cattle feed, but all choices contain some iodine to help you meet your needs
  5. Eggs are a nutrition powerhouse, as long as you eat the yolk. The amount of iodine is dependent on the amount of iodine in the chicken feed, but nonetheless it contains this important nutrient

Iodine is an important mineral that is needed in higher amounts when pregnant. If you are concerned about your current dietary intake of this nutrient, supplementation is available. Always speak to your doctor before starting any nutrition supplementation, but iodine supplementation is becoming more and more commonplace. If anything, needing more iodine is a great excuse to go out for some Japanese food…Miso soup and Seaweed Salad anyone?!?!