Bread important during pregnancy I iodine I health

Bread has been cast in a bad light by many food hypes in recent years. If you want to lose weight, you should eat less carbohydrates and therefore less bread. But bread remains an important food source for iodine. This is especially important during pregnancy.

During pregnancy it is very important to get enough iodine. Iodine provides, among other things, the brain development of the baby. Bread is the most important source of iodine in the Netherlands. Often iodine has been added to the salt in bread. If this does not happen, there will be a large scale shortage of iodine in the Netherlands.

What does iodine do?

Iodine is an important mineral for our body. Our body needs many different vitamins and minerals to function properly. Iodine mainly ensures that certain thyroid hormones are formed. These thyroid hormones have several functions including:

  • Contribution to a good metabolism
  • Brain development and growth during pregnancy and the first 1,000 days
  • Stimulate growth

Long-term shortage of iodine can lead to a shortage of this thyroid hormone. This can lead to an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter or goiter), weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and coldness. A deficiency during pregnancy can lead to growth retardation and insufficient development of the baby brain. As a result, a reduced neurological development.

Why is iodine added to bread?

The iodine supply in the Netherlands via natural sources is too low for many Dutch people. That is why extra iodine is added to bread. Also called baker’s salt. Research between 2007 and 2010 has shown that the Dutch only consume 57% of the recommended daily amount of iodine.

In addition to bread, iodine is found in sea fish, eggs, dairy products, seaweed and sea water. Cod, haddock and pollock in particular contain a lot of iodine.

We have to consume 150mcg iodine daily. Four slices of bread contain 80 mcg of iodine. To get this with other products you have to eat four eggs, half a liter of half whole milk, 600 grams of smoked salmon or 30 grams of cod. This already shows that it is difficult to get enough iodine without bread. It is very difficult for pregnant women who need even more iodine.

Are there any good alternatives to bread?

There are alternative foods that are also high in iodine. Seaweed is a well-known example of this. The amount can only vary enormously between different types of seaweed. Brown algae contains 2500mcg / gram and nori contains only 10mcg / gram.

There are seaweed supplements you can take. Kelp is the best known of these. In 2017, the Consumers’ Association conducted research into the amount of iodine in these supplements. They often contain less iodine than stated on the label. Even up to 90% less. It is therefore difficult to estimate how much iodine you will get through these supplements. This makes them less suitable as an alternative to bread.

Is taking extra iodine useful during pregnancy?

Science is not clear on this. Few good studies have been done. But from small studies in the Netherlands, many pregnant women do show a shortage of iodine.

If you do not eat bread and otherwise few other foods with iodine, it is certainly worthwhile to take extra iodine. Research by the Consumers’ Association showed that potassium iodide supplements are suitable for this. The stated percentage of iodine on the label corresponds to the iodine in the supplements


It is important to get enough iodine during your pregnancy. If your diet contains four slices of bread with iodized salt, this is quite possible. If you don’t eat bread, it is extremely difficult to get enough iodine through the food. Then dietary supplements of potassium iodide are recommended. Seaweed is less suitable due to the widely varying iodine content.