When I was pregnant the first time, I was studying a post-grad degree in Human Nutrition. My favourite subject was Lifespan Nutrition that looked at every stage of human development and the key nutrients required to support that stage (highlighting which nutrients were hard to meet and what deficiencies were common). One thing that really surprised me was the emphasis on folate versus another vital nutrient, which has high levels of deficiency and is linked to some serious fertility issues like miscarriage and stillbirths. So I want to share this with you and give you some ways to naturally get more of this key nutrient…
It’s common knowledge that many health organisations recommend supplementation of folate (or folic acid – the synthetic form of folate) during the first trimester of pregnancy and hopefully for three months prior to conceiving. There is strong evidence to show that this reduces the incidence of the foetus developing a neural tube defect (the most common malformation occurring during pregnancy). Green vegetables, avocados, lentils and sunflower seeds are rich in folate and are easily absorbable (so we use lots of these in the Wholesome Inc. Preconception Program).
But did you know that iodine supplementation is also recommended from three months prior to conception, right through until you’ve finished breastfeeding? This is because deficiency is a major problem in many countries around the world (due to, among other things, over framed soils not being replenished). Deficiency can lead to serious mental and physical impairments in our kids
Deficiency in iodine is also linked to higher rates of miscarriage, stillbirths and other fetal anomalies, with devastating effects. Plus, the impact to your thyroid function can reduce your changes of being able to conceive in the first place. Given that thyroid hormones are involved in controlling the menstrual cycle and being fertile, as well as FSH & LH actions, a deficiency can impact all stages of reproduction.
Given the low iodine content of foods, worldwide fortification programs were introduced to iodise table salt and breads (except organic breads and bread mixes). So if you don’t use much table salt, or eat standard breads, how can you increase your intake?
Saltwater seafood (like, salmon, oysters and prawns), seafood/kelp and eggs are great alternatives. You may like to try:
It can also be a good idea to have your levels tested prior to conceiving to see where you’re at (I got this from the GP, but had to pay extra). And you may consider adding to your pre-natal supplement with iodine drops if you’re low. You can talk to your doctor or naturopath about this.