Additionally, the requirement for iodine can increase by 50 percent or more during pregnancy. The World Health Organization recommends that pregnant women consume 250 mcg/day of iodine. However, they also recommend cutting salt intake to less than 5 grams per day. These recommendations contradict each other. If a pregnant woman has a poor intake of iodine, even if all of those 5 grams of salt comes from iodized salt, it still would not provide the recommended amount of iodine per day. (It should be noted that himalayan and sea salt contain small traces of iodine or none at all.) In fact, it would take around 5.6 grams of iodized salt to do this in pregnancy. In other words, it’s important for women to talk to their doctors and health care providers about appropriate supplementation and the implications of their salt intake on iodine levels. In contrast, other studies say consuming around 20 grams of salt per day (or about 3½ teaspoons of salt) may be beneficial in pregnancy. Low-salt advice meant for the general population may be putting unborn children at risk of iodine deficiency and all the consequences that can come from it (cognitive and motor dysfunction, hypothyroidism, decreased growth, and even death).
As I discuss in my book The Salt Fix, a comprehensive study of over 2,000 pregnant women showed that a low-salt diet, as compared to a high-salt diet, caused more miscarriages, premature babies (born < 34 weeks’ gestation), still births, perinatal and neonatal deaths, edema, toxemia (pre-eclampsia), and bleeding. Thus, for the sake of the mother and her unborn child, it’s important to consider and ask your health care provider about your salt intake during pregnancy.