The Vitamin You Didn’t Know You Need During Pregnancy

Photo: Getty Images / The Bump
Photo: Getty Images / The Bump

You’re loading up on folic acid, vitamin C, and calcium, but a vitamin crucial to your baby’s brain development may be completely off your radar.

We’re talking about iodine, an element that helps make thyroid hormones required for brain development. A new report published in the journal Pediatrics has found that many American women of reproductive age are slightly iodine deficient. One way to up your intake? Salt. But before you start celebrating with pretzels and popcorn, keep in mind that the salt in processed foods is not iodized.

An easier fix comes in the form of a supplement, ideally containing at least 150 micrograms of iodine. Both pregnant and lactating women should be taking at least 290 micrograms of iodine each day. And actually, you may get close to that amount if you use iodized table salt.

High risk pregnancy expert Loralei Thornburg, MD, says that drastic changes in your eating habits aren’t really necessary: “Although many women are largely iodine deficient, most women do get iodine in the (form) of food,” she told Reuters Health. “This isn’t something women should freak out about just yet.” Some common sources of iodine you’re probably already eating include dairy products, eggs, and fish.

Taking an iodine supplement is a little change with big benefits, yet only 15 percent of women do so. In addition to boosting baby’s brain, iodine protects him from the effects of environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke.

Which supplements are you taking during and after pregnancy? 

Plus, more from The Bump:

Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin

Safe Natural Supplements for Pregnancy

Prenatal Vitamins: What You Need to Know