Pregnant Vegans at Risk for Iodine Deficiency

Pregnant Vegans at Risk for Iodine Deficiency
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Disinfectants used to sanitize cow udders may provide a source of iodine for dairy consumers, but can also increase the concentration of pus in milk from cows with staph infection mastitis.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The mineral iodine is important for thyroid function, but critical during pregnancy for fetal neurologic development. Even a mild deficiency can impair cognitive ability.

The derogatory word cretin was originally a medical term describing those with stunted physical and mental development due to an untreated congenital iodine deficiency. It remains one of the most common preventable causes of brain damage worldwide, because of iodine-deficient soil, which is why most table salt is iodized.

“Iodine can also be found in dairy products due to iodine supplementation of cattle feed,” and because it may leach into the milk from the use of iodine-containing disinfectants to wash the udders, dip the teats, and clean the milk tanks out with. Dipping the teats in iodine disinfectant can decrease the bacteria concentration, but in cows with staph mastitis can actually increase the pus content in milk by as much as 60%. Regardless: “The iodine content of dairy products contributed by sanitizing products is usually not regulated and is a nondeliberate source of iodine.” But it is a source of iodine nonetheless.

These considerations therefore “raise concerns about the iodine status of pregnant women and women of reproductive age who are not consuming dairy products.” So, last year they concluded: “Iodine levels among U.S. women should be monitored, particularly among subgroups at risk.” Good idea, so this year they did it: “Iodine Status and Thyroid Function of Boston-Area Vegetarians and Vegans.” How did they do?

One way to measure iodine status is with a urine test. The World Health Organization recommends we should average 100 micrograms in our daily urine, unless we’re pregnant—in which case, we’d really like to see it up around 150. This is where vegetarians came out; not bad; conclusion: “U.S. vegetarians are iodine sufficient.”

What about vegans? 78.5. That’s not good. “U.S. vegans may [therefore] be at risk for low iodine intake.” Therefore: “Vegan women of child-bearing age should supplement with 150 micrograms of iodine daily.”

The best new resource for those planning a plant-based pregnancy is probably Vegan for Life by Norris and Messina, out July 2011.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tyabji [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsPhotos by Lina via flickr, and Cafe Press

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

The mineral iodine is important for thyroid function, but critical during pregnancy for fetal neurologic development. Even a mild deficiency can impair cognitive ability.

The derogatory word cretin was originally a medical term describing those with stunted physical and mental development due to an untreated congenital iodine deficiency. It remains one of the most common preventable causes of brain damage worldwide, because of iodine-deficient soil, which is why most table salt is iodized.

“Iodine can also be found in dairy products due to iodine supplementation of cattle feed,” and because it may leach into the milk from the use of iodine-containing disinfectants to wash the udders, dip the teats, and clean the milk tanks out with. Dipping the teats in iodine disinfectant can decrease the bacteria concentration, but in cows with staph mastitis can actually increase the pus content in milk by as much as 60%. Regardless: “The iodine content of dairy products contributed by sanitizing products is usually not regulated and is a nondeliberate source of iodine.” But it is a source of iodine nonetheless.

These considerations therefore “raise concerns about the iodine status of pregnant women and women of reproductive age who are not consuming dairy products.” So, last year they concluded: “Iodine levels among U.S. women should be monitored, particularly among subgroups at risk.” Good idea, so this year they did it: “Iodine Status and Thyroid Function of Boston-Area Vegetarians and Vegans.” How did they do?

One way to measure iodine status is with a urine test. The World Health Organization recommends we should average 100 micrograms in our daily urine, unless we’re pregnant—in which case, we’d really like to see it up around 150. This is where vegetarians came out; not bad; conclusion: “U.S. vegetarians are iodine sufficient.”

What about vegans? 78.5. That’s not good. “U.S. vegans may [therefore] be at risk for low iodine intake.” Therefore: “Vegan women of child-bearing age should supplement with 150 micrograms of iodine daily.”

The best new resource for those planning a plant-based pregnancy is probably Vegan for Life by Norris and Messina, out July 2011.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Tyabji [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0] via Wikimedia CommonsPhotos by Lina via flickr, and Cafe Press

Nota del Doctor

Check out these videos for more info on iodine in the diet:
Can Gargling Prevent The Common Cold?
Which Seaweed is Most Protective Against Breast Cancer?

For details on exactly how much iodine we need, and practical tips on the best way to get iodine (without the pus), check out: Avoiding Iodine Deficiency.

For even more context, check out my associated blog posts: Do Eden Beans Have Too Much Iodine?How much pus is there in milk?; and Head Shrinking from Grilling Meat.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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