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Nutrition during pregnancy

Japan With Kids - Forums: Health Topics: Pregnancy/Birth/Childrearing: Nutrition during pregnancy
By Lindagondo on Monday, May 26, 2008 - 3:44 pm:

I am 34 weeks pregnant and have just recently discovered that the Japanese prenatal supplement which I have been taking throughout my pregnancy and recommended by my obstetrician doesn`t have iodine. I just assumed it would because normally this would be included in the prenatal vitamins available in Australia where I come form. (Iodine deficiency is particularly common in Australia and New Zealand and is also the leading cause of mental retardation in the world). I discussed this with my obstetrician today who said that iodine deficiency is unheard of in Japan and that a lot of the produce in Japan is already rich in iodine. (He didn`t specify which ones). I`ve scrolled the internet for info (in English) but the only thing I can find regarding why Japanese don`t suffer from iodine deficiency is because they eat so much seaweed and seafood.

In contrast, I have only been eating seafood about twice a week and very little seaweed, and of course the salt is not iodised in Japan. Does anyone know if Japanese eggs, chicken and dairy products have worthwhile sources of iodine? (In my case the bread and rice I have been eating are organic but grown in America so probably have very little worthwhile iodine in them). I`m wondering if I should start eating more seaweed (although it`s really a bit too late if there really is a deficiency)or am I just (typically)worrying too much?

By Yuko_k on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 12:16 pm:

Hi Lindagondo,

I'm no expert but a Japanese mother and consumer who was once pregnant in Japan more than 15 years ago.

Does anyone know if Japanese eggs, chicken and dairy products have worthwhile sources of iodine?

I don't know. But there is a famous egg brand called "Yodo-ran" literally meaning "iodine eggs" in which according to their advertisement is supposed to contain a lot of iodine. I think this implies that ordinary eggs don't.

But on the other hand, I notice that a lot of lables on eggs and poultry says that they were "fed with natural ingredients such as seaweed" making it sound like they're extra nutritious and good for you.

Also, pregnant women in Japan are encouraged to attend parent-to-be classes where they are taught to eat proper food which is supposed to contain some seaweed per day.

So if you ask me, I think it wouldn't hurt to try to eat seaweed unless you find it stressful. And I don't think it's that too late if you're planning to breast-feed your baby. Anyway, we tend to think that it's over once the baby is out of our bodies, but that's when we really start!

Are you just worrying too much?

If you ask me, the answer is yes, because just several decades ago, not many pregnant women around the world were educated properly about nutrition, and many did not live by the sea, and most if not all had no suppliment pills to take, and they still had healthy babies.

In any case, the best thing to do is to consult to your doctor. Or if you're in Japan, you can always get advise from your local hokenko (public health center where you obtained your mother-and-child-notebook). The hokenjo is really helpful on ANY problems you may face about your family. I've phoned or visited them over the years asking about better breast-feeding, or about making mom friends, even about how I can cope with my teenager in his rebeling days, or even how I can cope with my stressed husband! Foreign language aid is often available too.

By Natalie_l on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 - 6:44 pm:

Hi - I'm also from Australia and if you are worried, why not take supplements designed for pregnancy/breastfeeding? I bought Blackmores brand from this website
Cost is minimum $25 for postage so you might as well get other stuff like baby panadol and anything else you might need. It takes maximum of 2 weeks to get here.

It's never too late to start eating a balanced diet, so don't be discouraged by a late start - you and baby will benefit. However, I found it difficult to make good meals all the time - especially with a new baby - so I found the vitamins helped relieve some guilt on those nights where I was too stuffed to cook a healthy meal. (try to cook and freeze some meals before bub arrives for this scenario!).

Hope this helps!

By Lindagondo on Friday, May 30, 2008 - 9:18 am:

Thanks for the info Yuko and Natalie. I`m kind of hoping that since I`ve been eating free range eggs and organic chicken that those will have had some iodine in them. Definitely from now on though I`m going to eat either eat some seaweed every day or take a supplement containing iodine. Thanks again.

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