New research by the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that one-third of pregnant women in the United States have an iodine deficiency, and iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormones—which control your metabolism and play an integral part in your baby's all-important brain development. One theory for the lack of iodine in women's diets is that processed foods don't use iodized salts, and Americans as a whole are eating much more processed food than we once did.
And even though in the U.S. pregnant women often take prenatal vitamins, only 15 to 20 percent take ones that contain any iodine (in the form of potassium iodide), and many of those that do contain iodide don't contain the 150 mg suggested by the National Academy of Sciences. The recommendation for pregnant women and breastfeeding moms is the same—a daily supplement that includes at least 150 mg of iodine and use of iodized table salt for a combined intake of between 290 and 1100 mg of iodide per day.
You can naturally add iodine into your diet by eating things like seafood or low-fat yogurt. And in the U.S. most table salt is fortified (a practice that started in 1924 to help end iodide deficiencies), so it's an excellent source for iodine with ¼ teaspoon providing about 47 percent of your necessary daily intake.
So it's relatively easy to add what you need into your diet to give your baby the best chances of being a brainiac—but like everything else, consult your doctor about your individual needs, especially before taking any supplement!
Image of pregnant woman eating yogurt courtesy of Shutterstock.