- Around 50% of women in the United States have at least a mild iodine deficiency, which could impact their ability to conceive according to new studies.
- Iodine is an essential nutrient that regulates metabolic activities and is found in foods such as seafood, iodized salt, dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
- Women with moderate to severe iodine deficiency had a 46% reduced chance of becoming pregnant each menstrual cycle compared to women with adequate iodine levels.
- The shift towards vegetarian and vegan diets have led to reduced dietary iodine intake. Health experts recommend women take prenatal vitamins, including iodine, at least three months prior to conception.
- Although the study didn’t conclusively prove that low iodine levels cause infertility, preventative measures are being considered to increase iodine consumption in women of child-bearing age in countries where iodine deficiency is prevalent.
An underwhelming consumption of iodine, a vital nutrient, could be detrimental to a woman’s ability to conceive, according to new studies. This condition appears to be a widespread issue in the United States where nearly 50% of women have at least a mild iodine deficiency.
Role of Iodine in Metabolism and Fertility
An essential nutrient, iodine helps control metabolic activities. Iodine rich foods include seafood, iodized salt, dairy products, as well as fruits and vegetables.
In a recent study involving 467 American women who were trying to conceive, it was discovered that those with a moderate to severe iodine deficiency had a 46 percent lesser chance of getting pregnant during each menstrual cycle as compared to women with adequate iodine levels. Mildly iodine deficient women also seemed to struggle a bit more to conceive.
The research was headed by Dr. James Mills from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Mills suggest, “Women who are thinking of becoming pregnant may need more iodine.”
Findings Published in Human Reproduction Journal
The research findings were shared online and they highlight the role nutrition plays in conception. The shift towards vegetarian and vegan diets in recent years has unintentionally contributed to a decrease in iodine consumption.
Nutrition: A Key Factor in Reproduction
Dr. Tomer Singer, in charge of reproductive endocrinology and infertility care at a prominent hospital in New York City, states “The adoption of vegetarian and vegan diets have led to a reduction in dietary iodine consumption.”
Considering that iodine primarily comes from diet – seafood, salt, vegetables and fruits like potatoes, cranberries and strawberries – health experts recommend that women take prenatal vitamins, containing iodine, at least three months prior to conception.
Based on the new research, iodine deficiency is common among women in the United States. In the study, 56 percent of women had adequate iodine levels, while roughly 22 percent were mildly deficient, 21 percent were moderately deficient and 1.7 percent severely deficient.
Consequences and Guidance for Iodine Deficiency
Dr. Mills noted that “Iodine requirements increase during pregnancy, and the fetus depends on this mineral to make thyroid hormone and to ensure normal brain development.”
The research did not conclusively prove that low iodine levels cause infertility. However, if these findings are further confirmed, preventative measures could be taken to enhance iodine consumption in women of child-bearing age in countries where iodine deficiency is prevalent.
Women should strive to maintain healthy iodine levels. “Prenatal vitamins should include 150 micrograms of iodine, as per the guideline of the American Thyroid Association’s 2015 statement. These vitamins should be taken before and during pregnancy, as well as during lactation,” recommends Singer.
Visit the American Thyroid Association for more on iodine deficiency.