What is the Role of Iodine?

The role of Iodine is to regulate metabolism and play an important role within the thyroid in controlling many body processes, especially during pregnancy. And when we’re pregnant it’s recommended that we have 140 micrograms of iodine a day.

Too little iodine in pregnancy is associated with learning disability in infants and children.

Dietary iodine requirements are increased in pregnant women for several reasons and maternal thyroid hormone production normally increases by about 50% during gestation, starting during the first trimester

Our main source of iodine in the UK is dairy products and Iodine can also be found in seaweed, fish and seafood. Smaller amounts can be found in meat and meat products and some types of vegetables (depending on the soil where they were grown).

If someone does not have dairy products and does not eat any fish or seafood and is following a plant based diet it is very important that they have other sources of iodine in their diet.

It is also important not to have too much iodine, and intakes should not exceed 940 micrograms a day. Some seaweed such as kelp has a very high iodine content and should be avoided.

Dried nori seaweed used in making sushi is safe to include in the diet and can be sprinkled on soups and stews and included in home-made burgers and other dishes as well as iodized salts added to the diet.

Very high intakes of iodine are also dangerous and if women take an iodine supplement this should provide no more than 150 micrograms a day. Source:

The role of Iodine and Zinc during pregnancy


Zinc plays a role in enzyme and insulin production, and is important for the baby’s health and development. Zinc helps to form the baby’s organs, skeleton, nerves and circulatory system.

Current recommendation for pregnant women is for 7mg of zinc a day.

Some women may have too little zinc in their diet if they don’t eat well and if they don’t regularly have foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, pulses, nuts or cereal foods.

Non-animal sources of Zinc

  • beans and lentils
  • brown or wholemeal
  • bread
  • nuts
  • plain popcorn
  • sesame seeds
  • tofu
  • wholegrain breakfast
  • cereals, such as
  • puffed wheat,
  • bran-flakes


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