Why should you eat seaweed during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a very exciting time of your life. As soon as you found out you are pregnant, you may also want to find out what are the foods that you should and shouldn’t eat for food safety or nutrition reasons. Many women know to take supplement for folate and iron, but what about iodine? How much do you know about iodine and what does iodine do to you and your unborn baby? I am writing this whilst 21 weeks pregnant, I want to use this opportunity to announce to my community this happy news as well as tell you a little bit about iodine and seaweed.
Iodine is an essential mineral that supports many functions in the body. It is involved with the production of the thyroid hormone which regulates metabolism and growth. Iodine is also important to support cognitive and physical development of the baby during pregnancy and throughout childhood. For that reason, pregnant and breastfeeding women require more iodine (220 and 270 micrograms a day) compared to average adult 150 micrograms a day.
Iodine deficiency is not uncommon in both developing countries and developed countries such as Australia. According to The Prevalence and Severity of Iodine Deficiency in Australia written by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2007, school-aged children in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania appear to have mild iodine deficiency. Pregnant and breastfeeding women in these areas were also found to have inadequate iodine intake, and therefore their unborn babies are at risk of iodine deficiency. There is a reasonable amount of research showing that mild iodine deficiency can cause sub-optimal neurological development, notably reduced IQ. The causes of iodine deficiency in Australia may due to a declined use of iodised salt, declined use of iodine containing sanitiser during dairy processing, reduce iodine quantity in soil and low consumption of iodine rich foods.
Iodine can be found in a range of whole foods. Foods that contains the highest iodine concentration are foods from the sea including seaweed, fish and shellfish. In Australia, it is mandatory to replace regular salt with iodised salt in bread. However, this law does not apply to unpackaged bread such as bread from artisan bakeries.
Iodine in food
alg Seaweed Original (Australian wakame seaweed) – 410ug/100g
Oysters – 160ug/100g
Sushi with nori – 92ug/100g
Tin salmon – 60ug/100g
Bread (made with iodised salt) – 46ug/100g
Regular milk – 13ug/100g
Not all seaweed varieties have the same amount of iodine content and some are too high that excessive consumption can be harmful. Nori and dulse are generally lower in iodine compared to kombu and one should be cautious to not have too much kombu in their diet.
We recommend pregnant women to get adequate iodine using a range of whole foods. But as you can see, meeting 100% of iodine requirement can be challenging. Adding a little sprinkle of alg Seaweed into your food can be a great way to boost your iodine intake.
5 Ways to use alg Seaweed in nutrient dense foods during pregnancy
- Sprinkle on eggs. Egg is a great source of nutrients including choline, vitamin A, B, E, calcium and zinc.
- Sprinkle on avocado. Avocado offer healthy fats, vitamin E and dietary fibre.
- Sprinkle on fish. Omega 3 in fish and seaweed is important for little babies’ brain development and cognitive functions.
- Sprinkle on steamed veggies and home prepared salads. Aim to eat vegetables with a range of colour that offers different antioxidants, vitamins and dietary fibre.
- Sprinkle on cooked meats and tofu. Get adequate protein by eating meats and plant-based protein regularly.