Iodine helps make thyroid hormone which is vital to maintain the body’s metabolic rate, as well as for normal growth and development. Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid disease such as goitre or hypothyroidism and impair brain development.
Who is iodine important for?
Although only required in very small amounts, iodine is an essential nutrient for everyone. It is particularly important that unborn babies and young children have adequate intakes of iodine.
Iodine supplements while pregnant & breastfeeding
- It is recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a 150 micrograms (mcg) iodine only tablet daily, as well as eating foods which are important sources of iodine.
- The recommended registered tablet can be purchased at pharmacies (or at a lower cost, when prescribed by your doctor or midwife).
- Talk to your doctor, midwife, dietitian, nurse or pharmacist to find out more.
Where can I get iodine from?
Good sources of iodine are fish, shellfish, seaweed (e.g. sushi), milk, milk products and commercially prepared bread – iodised salt is added to commercially prepared bread in New Zealand (except organic or unleavened varieties).
If using salt, always choose iodised salt. Fancy, and often expensive, sea salt and rock salts don't contain iodine.
What else do I need to know about iodine?
Kelp and other iodine supplements should only be taken under supervision of a doctor or dietician.
- The iodine content of these supplements is extremely variable.
- Taking high doses of iodine for a long period of time could affect your thyroid gland.
Limiting salt intake is an important factor to help manage high blood pressure and other health conditions. However, when using salt opt for iodised salt.
Food and nutrition guidelines Ministry of Health, NZ
Iodine Ministry of Health, NZ
Iodine deficiency and supplementation for pregnant & breastfeeding women – a background paper Ministry of Health, NZ