Iodine deficiency during pregnancy is the most prominent, preventable cause of intellectual impairment in children around the world and is a key component of thyroid hormones that are crucial for brain development during early pregnancy.
A recent study published in the Human Reproduction Journal has also revealed the effect iodine deficiency has on conception in women of childbearing age. Research has shown that there is a significant correlation between a delay in becoming pregnant and lowered iodine levels in women of childbearing age. Women who suffered from severe iodine deficiency experienced almost a 50% decreased probability of becoming pregnant compared to the women with normal iodine levels.
Surprisingly, the women suffering from iodine deficiency had a diet that was high in sodium, the likely explanation being that the large amount of salt in the processed foods that the participants were consuming was not iodised. Food manufacturers in Australia are not required to use iodised salt.
The study provided strong evidence to suggest that significantly diminished fecundity was related to reduced iodine levels in women trying to fall pregnant.
The WHO recommends a woman has an iodine level of 150ug/l to maximise fertility and the health of her baby’s growing brain.
Sea salt, unless iodised, and kelp are not good sources of iodine. Iodised salt, dairy products, seafood, eggs and some breads are good dietary sources of iodine.