In a recent study, UK researchers from Surrey and Bristol universities found that milk intake during pregnancy is vital for the brain development of the fetus. The results derive from a compilation of samples and data from a Bristol-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) also known as "Children of the 90s". Based on iodine-tested urine samples obtained from the first trimester of 1,040 pregnant women, 67 percent were classified as iodine-deficient.
The recommended amount of iodine for women is 150 micrograms (mcg) per day, reports the Food and Nutrition Board at the U.S. Institute of Medicine (FNB). Women who are pregnant should have a daily intake 220 mcg of iodine and those who are breastfeeding should have 290 mcg.
Several national and international groups, such as the American Thyroid Association (ATA), suggest that women who are breastfeeding and pregnant take daily prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements that contain 150 mcg of iodine to ensure they provide enough iodine for their baby. Despite the approval of prestigious medical groups, only half of the prenatal multivitamins sold in the United States contain iodine for pregnant/lactating women, says the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).
Even if these iodine-supplied prenatal multivitamins were readily available to women across the country, the excessive consumption of these pills could have detrimental results. The intake of too much supplemental iodine during pregnancy could lead to congenital hypothyroidism, a thyroid deficiency that can cause mental or growth retardation, sometimes both. Heart complications can also arise in a newborn due to too much consumption of iodine multivitamins by the mother. In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers found three infants with congenital hypothyroidism due to the daily consumption of 12.5 milligrams (mg) of iodine by their mother while they were pregnant or lactating. Iodine levels exceeded 11 times the upper safe limit, 1,100 mcg a day.
Expecting mothers and those who are breastfeeding should monitor their iodine levels. A newborn's brain development and cognitive functions are dependent upon a mother's iodine intake. Low levels of iodine during pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage and stillbirth. To ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy for you and your child, below you will find the five best foods that will boost your iodine levels accordingly.
Shrimp contains 35 mcg of iodine, which accounts for 25 percent of the suggested intake.
1. Shrimp, lobster, and canned tuna - 35 mcg/25% DV, 100 mcg/60% DV, 17 mcg/11% DV
Seafood lovers can splurge on their favorite dish to maximize their iodine levels. Shrimp contains 35 mcg of iodine, which accounts for 25 percent of the suggested intake. Protein, vitamin B-12, and iron are among the many nutrients this dish provides in a three ounce (oz.) serving, says Live Strong. Pregnant women can indulge in this popular seafood dish without the worry of high mercury levels.
If you want to splurge a little more, lobster is the gateway for ensuring you and your baby get 60 percent of the daily recommended amount of iodine. This high-protein and energy-giving dish contains 100 grams of lobster, which holds 100 mcg of iodine with low fat and carbohydrates.
If you want to opt for something you can easily find in your kitchen cabinet, canned tuna is your best option. Go for canned tuna in oil instead of water because it contains more iodine (17 mcg, 11 percent of DV), says Oregon State University (OSU). The added health benefits of this no preparation, ready-to-eat dish is its high content in protein, vitamin D, and iron.
This vegetable contains fiber, vitamins, and potassium – on the skin.
2. Baked potatoes - 60 mcg/40% DV
Potatoes are a quick and easy way to increase your daily iodine intake while you are pregnant. This vegetable contains fiber, vitamins, and potassium - on the skin. Opt for baked instead of mashed to get the richest levels of iodine available. A medium-sized potato contains 60 mcg of iodine, approximately 40 percent of the recommended daily intake, says ODS.
Twenty three percent DV of iodine (35 mcg) is found in three ounces of this dish.
3. Baked Turkey Breast - 35 mcg/23% DV
It's time to make yourself a baked turkey breast sandwich. This delicious dish contains high levels of iodine and can help with cancer prevention. The selenium found in turkey can aid your antioxidant defense system, which can eliminate cancer radicals from the body. Twenty three percent DV of iodine (35 mcg) is found in three ounces of this dish.
Strawberries contain 13 mgs of iodine in a one-cup serving, approximately less than 10 percent DV.
4. Strawberries - 13 mcg/9% DV
This vitamin C immunity-booster has many vitamins and minerals to ensure you and your baby are healthy and fit. Strawberries help in prenatal health because they contain folate and B-vitamins. Like iodine, folate is essential during the early stages of pregnancy to help with the development of the nervous system, skull, and spinal cord in your newborn, says Ohio State University (OSU). This fruit contains 13 mgs of iodine in a one-cup serving, approximately less than 10 percent DV.
Cheedar cheese contains 113 calories with 12 mcg of iodine (8 percent DV), which can add a couple of pounds to your baby bump if consumed excessively.
5. Cheddar Cheese - 12 mcg/8% DV
Next time you have a burger, sandwich, soup, or salad, be sure to add a slice or sprinkle come cheddar cheese. This 113-calorie option, with 12 mcg of iodine (8 percent DV), can add a couple of pounds to your baby bump if consumed excessively. Its protein, iron, zinc, and potassium levels can help boost your immunity and protect you from strokes and high blood pressure, says the University of California San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF).