Whether a woman is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, she needs to take good care of her diet. She has to ensure that she is not suffering from deficiency of any vital nutrient. The reason is that certain dietary nutrients are essential for conception and maintaining a healthy pregnancy. One of these is iodine, which is a trace mineral that facilitates proper functioning of thyroid gland. This gland is responsible for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, namely triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones play a key role in controlling metabolism, regulating the growth of vital organs, and function of physical processes.
The role of thyroid hormones becomes all the more important during preconception and pregnancy. Therefore, women who are pregnant or planning conception need to make sure that they get all the iodine that they need. Whether it has to come from diet or supplementation is something their doctor can guide them about. Being aware about the recommended levels during pregnancy as well as iodine prior to conception can be a good thing. Women with iodine deficiency need to resolve the problem before they get pregnant to avoid complications later on.
Iodine for Preconception and Pregnancy
A woman who plans pregnancy needs a comprehensive thyroid evaluation to ensure that she is not suffering from dysfunction. Thyroid dysfunction is one of the main causes that lead to female infertility. Women with the condition usually face ovulation problems which hamper natural conception. Additionally, their metabolic functioning is also influenced. This results in weight management issues, with the woman being overweight or underweight. In either of the cases, she might encounter problems getting pregnant. Iodine supplementation can be an effective remedial measure during the preconception stage.
On the other hand, thyroid imbalance can result in a series of problems during pregnancy too. Iodine deficiency can be a critical issue for both, the mother and the baby. It elevates the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy, which can be a life-threatening condition. Iodine is also important for development of skeletal system and central nervous system of the fetus. Its deficiency can have serious implications like physical disability and mental retardation for the baby. Thyroid hormone is responsible for insulation of nerves in the growing fetus, which makes it crucial for brain development. Iodine deficiency can therefore, result in serious brain damage in the fetus.
How much iodine is enough?
Iodine is a micronutrient which cannot be processed by the body. But it can be replenished with the right diet and supplementation. The recommended daily allowance of this mineral is 150 mcg per day during pre-conception. This increases to 220-250 mcg per day for pregnant women and 250-290 mcg for breastfeeding mothers. Supplementation of iodine during preconception or pregnancy should be taken only after seeing a specialist.
It is easy to fulfill the iodine requirements by taking the right diet. Food sources of iodine include iodized table salt, sea salt, sea weed, sea food, bread fortified with salt, eggs, and dairy and dairy products. Some vegetables like green beans, spinach, lettuce, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions are also high in iodine.
Despite the fact that iodine is of such vital importance during preconception and pregnancy, there is still not much awareness about it. Women should discuss this issue with their gynecologist and avail their guidance in this context. Not only should they talk about iodine supplementation but also focus on making up for it with balanced diet.
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