Why You Should Supplement With Iodine If You’re Pregnant—Even If You Have Thyroid Disease

In Monday’s video we discussed the importance of adequate iodine status in pregnant women in relation to the child’s brain development. The results consistently found that iodine status was more important than either taking thyroid hormone or having higher levels of thyroid hormone. So what do you do if you’re a pregnant woman with thyroid disease?

If you need help managing your thyroid and pregnancy, click here

In Monday’s video we discussed the importance of adequate iodine status in pregnant women in relation to the child’s brain development. According to a recent study, brain development (neurointellectual outcomes) in children “appears to be more dependant on their mothers’ nutritional iodine status than on maternal thyroid function. These results support the growing body of evidence that prenatal, mild-to-moderate iodine deficiency adversely affects cognitive development later in life, with a seemingly greater impact on verbal abilities.”

This study  looked at brain development in children based on the mother’s iodine supplementation compared to thyroid hormone replacement. It also evaluated urinary iodine levels compared to thyroid hormone levels in the mother and how that correlated to the child’s brain development.

The results consistently found that iodine status was more important than either taking thyroid hormone or having higher levels of thyroid hormone.

Based on the results of this study, an appropriate nutritional strategy for pregnant mothers to ensure their developing child has the best neurological development would be to supplement with iodine if levels are low.

This is relevant because the most common cause of hypothyroidism is thyroid autoimmunity (Hashimoto’s), and iodine supplementation has consistently been shown to make thyroid autoimmunity worse.

So What Do You Do If You’re a Pregnant Woman With Thyroid Disease?

In the case of pregnant women with hypothyroid, it may be beneficial to supplement with iodine to support healthy brain development of the child as well as to supplement with selenium to offset any of the negative side effects of the iodine on the mom. Taking selenium in conjunction with iodine may help buffer any of the autoimmune-prevoking effects of the iodine.

The bottom line is, if you’re pregnant, don’t avoid iodine. Make sure you have adequate iodine status to support the brain development of your child.

How Do You Know If You Have Adequate Iodine Status?

The best and most accurate way to test iodine levels is with a 24-hour urinary iodine-to-creatinine ratio test. This is the test that is used in the scientific literature, and that’s really what you should use if you want to quantify iodine deficiency. Do not use the skin patch test. The urinary test is available through any conventional lab and is easy for your doctor to order.

You want to make sure your daily iodine intake is within the recommended daily amount. If you’re on a low-iodine diet, you may want to start increasing your iodine intake. A low-iodine diet would be less than 100 mcg per day. We recommend avoiding this during pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant, your daily intake should be between 150 mcg and 1100 mcg per day. That’s the reasonable recommended dietary allowance range. Based upon some of the studies, a sweet spot where you can get the benefit from iodine without risking detriment may be at 450 mcg per day.

That’s based upon some of the studies showing different populations consuming different amounts of iodine. This amount did not appear to increase the chances of excessive iodine, hypothyroidism, and thyroid autoimmunity.

Supplementing With Iodine

If you do have low iodine levels or a true deficiency that was quantified by a 24-hour urinary iodine-to-creatinine ratio test, then taking 1 mg up to a max of 10 mg a day along with 200 mcg of selenium is a good strategy for repletion. Note: this is milligrams of iodine, not micrograms.

We believe the safest form of iodine for people to supplement with is potassium iodide because it seems to be a little safer and better tolerated in those with thyroid disorders.

We also recommend starting on the low side of 1 to 2 milligrams a day. Monitor how you feel. Maybe after a month or two, monitor your TSH and your T4. But you should also be doing this in conjunction with selenium, because selenium and iodine do have counterbalancing effects on thyroid physiology. It appears that too much iodine without selenium may have an inflammatory effect on the thyroid gland.

 

Additional resources on thyroid and iodine:

https://drruscio.com/thyroid-iodine-selenium-vitamin-d-episode-57/

https://drruscio.com/thyroid-iodine-part-1-episode-4/

https://drruscio.com/podcast-thyroid-getting-truth-part-2/

 

If you need help managing your thyroid and pregnancy, click here

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Discussion

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