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Iodine is an essential nutrient that humans need in very small quantities. A small gland in the neck, known as the thyroid, uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones.

These hormones are vital to ensure normal development of the brain and nervous system before birth, in babies and young children.

For this reason, it is very important that pregnant and breastfeeding women get enough iodine. Humans store iodine in the thyroid. As only small amounts can be stored, any excess is excreted

The best way to get the nutrients your body needs is as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Some suggestions to make sure you get the required daily amount of iodine include:

  • Seafood – dietitians recommend two to three meals of seafood per week to get the beneficial fish oils. Eating fish twice a week will also provide most adults with enough iodine to fulfill their average iodine requirement.
  • Bread – is now made using iodised salt in Australia. Organic breads and ‘no added salt’ breads are the only exceptions to this rule.
  • Seaweed, dairy products and eggs – provide additional dietary sources of iodine.
  • Some vegetables – may contain iodine, but only if they are grown in iodine-rich soils.

So if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or considering becoming pregnant ask your health professional for advice about their individual dietary and iodine needs.

1 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.006Chapter1302011-12#6

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