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The Vitamin You Didn’t Know You Need During Pregnancy

It's crucial for baby's brain development.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Updated
March 30, 2017
pregnant woman supermarket supplement row
Image: Tang Ming Tung / Getty Images

You’re loading up on folic acid, vitamin C, and calcium, but a vitamin crucial to 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 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. You may actually 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 brain development, iodine protects baby from the effects of environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke.

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