Starting your fertility journey or planning to conceive? Your health and nutrition is probably one of the first things you thought about. Planning for a family requires many considerations. Having a solid nutritional foundation to support a baby's healthy development is a key initial step.
One nutrient that often gets overlooked is iodine. While it's commonly associated with thyroid health, iodine plays a crucial role in fertility and healthy fetal development. So if you're planning a pregnancy, it's worth looking into an iodine supplement or a seaweed supplement to meet your daily needs.
How Does Iodine Support Fertility and Fetal Development?
Iodine is an essential micronutrient that the body uses to produce thyroid hormones. A nutrient is considered essential when our bodies can not produce it, rather we have to get it from our diet. Thyroid hormones regulate many bodily functions, such as metabolism. Your thyroid also supports the function of your nervous system, digestive system, endocrine system, and—importantly—your reproductive system.
When it comes to reproductive health, iodine has a strong influence. An adequate iodine level is necessary for ensuring a healthy ovulation cycle in women and sperm health in men.
Iodine is important throughout all stages of fertility and it plays a critical role in fetal development. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can have serious consequences. It can interfere with fetal neurological development, resulting in cognitive delays, a lower IQ, and in severe cases, cretinism. Additionally, stunted growth may occur.
How Much Iodine Does a Person Planning to Conceive Need?
The daily recommended iodine intake for an average adult is about 150 micrograms. However, this significantly increases when you're planning to conceive and during pregnancy, when the recommended intake jumps to 225 micrograms.
This is because your baby relies on your iodine intake for its thyroid function and development. To put it in familiar terms—you're quite literally eating enough iodine for two.
What Is the Most Important Time to Take Iodine?
It is always important to maintain adequate iodine levels in the body. This is especially true when trying to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy. This is the time when the baby's brain development is most sensitive to iodine. Having optimal iodine levels right from the start of pregnancy helps ensure complete and healthy fetal neurological development.
Iodine is essential during pregnancy and breastfeeding. During breastfeeding, your baby depends on your iodine intake for its development. Your daily iodine needs increase to 290 micrograms during breastfeeding.
Am I Getting Enough Iodine in My Prenatal Vitamin?
While many prenatal vitamins do contain iodine, as many as 40% do not contain any iodine at all. Those that do may not have enough to meet your increased needs during pre-conception and pregnancy. For instance, if your diet is low in iodine-rich foods (like dairy and seafood), you may need additional supplementation.
This is where an iodine supplement or a seaweed supplement can be beneficial. They can help ensure that you're getting adequate iodine, promoting optimal fertility and fetal health.
It's important to note that the quality and source of your iodine matters too. The most bioavailable source of all essential nutrients are those found in whole foods. Bioavailability is the extent to which your body can access and metabolize nutrients. Getting your essential nutrients from food sources has been widely shown to provide optimal results. This is why we developed the Daily Bite; each bite contains ~180 micrograms of iodine, which delivers 80% of your iodine needs during pregnancy, in addition to 40+ vitamins, minerals, fiber, polyphenols and bioactives that your body needs for nourishment.
Planning for a family is an exciting journey. As you navigate this path, don't forget the role of essential nutrients like iodine. Ensuring adequate iodine intake can have a major impact on both your fertility and your baby's health.
As always, every individual's needs and circumstances are unique. So, make sure to consult with your healthcare provider about your iodine needs when planning to conceive. Here's to a healthy and happy pregnancy journey!