PureSea®: Fertility & Pregnancy

The Role of PureSea® in Healthy Fertility and Pregnancy

Iodine is an essential nutrient that is required throughout life. There are specific times during a woman’s life when iodine intake is particularly important in order to ensure optimum health outcomes - these include during pregnancy and pre-conception.

Iodine cannot be produced by the body and must be consumed in the diet, with the main sources being white fish and dairy products. However, with recent data demonstrating that consumption of plant-based alternatives is accelerating, particularly so in women,1 the risk of iodine deficiency in this group is greater than ever.

Finding natural solutions to the increasing prevalence of iodine deficiency that can suit all dietary needs and improve fertility and pregnancy outcomes is of vital importance. One of the most viable solutions is through the use of PureSea® seaweed ingredients within food, beverage and nutrition applications to provide a natural, plant-based source of iodine.

Why is iodine important for fertility and pregnancy?

Iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, meaning that inadequate intake can result in hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). Hypothyroidism can subsequently result in adverse effects on female fertility, by impairing the developmental process of ovarian follicles and ovulation.2

Iodine is required in higher amounts during pregnancy due to its critical role in foetal neurological development, with deficiency associated with an increased risk of congenital anomalies, miscarriage and stillbirth.3 It is imperative for women of childbearing age, who are hoping to conceive in the future, to achieve iodine sufficiency as foetal neurological development commences in very early pregnancy.4

The European Food Safety Association (EFSA) recommends an intake of 150μg of iodine per day. EFSA and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommend consuming a further 50-100μg for those who are pregnant and lactating.5 It is advised to consume adequate iodine regularly before conception, if possible, to help to ensure sufficiency.

The effects of iodine on fertility

Research has established a possible link between iodine deficiency and the length of time taken to conceive.6 A recent study found that iodine deficient women took on average one month longer to conceive than their counterparts. Furthermore, significantly more iodine deficient women failed to conceive after trying for at least 13 months. Further analysis of the data led the researchers to conclude that iodine deficient women were significantly less likely to get pregnant than women with adequate iodine intake.

A study from 2018 also found that women who were iodine deficient took significantly longer to become pregnant.7 The women in this study experienced a 46% decrease in probability of becoming pregnant over each cycle compared to the iodine sufficient group.

The effects of iodine on pregnancy

One of the major findings to come out of current scientific research is the effect that iodine deficiency has on foetal and early childhood brain development, with research suggesting that maternal iodine deficiency results in a lower IQ of the offspring.

One prominent study found that insufficient maternal iodine levels during pregnancy was associated with lower language skills in their children, up to 18 months of age.8 Another study found that 62% of 1040 mothers were deficient in iodine, with these mothers at an increased risk of their children being in the bottom 25% of IQ test results.9

PureSea® for fertility and pregnancy

Seaweed provides the only good natural and plant-based source of iodine. PureSea® is a brand of seaweed ingredients that measures the iodine levels of every batch and have evidenced stable levels of natural iodine over many years of production. The powders and granules are supplied in various formats, for ease of use in nutrition, food and beverage products. PureSea® provides safe and natural levels of iodine, allowing for EFSA approved health claims surrounding:

  • Thyroid health
  • Cognitive function
  • Development in children
  • Energy yielding metabolism
  • Nervous system
  • Healthy skin


(1) Alae-Carew, C., Green, R., Stewart, C., Cook, B., Dangour, A.D. and Scheelbeek, P.F.D. (2022) The role of plant-based alternative foods in sustainable and healthy food systems: consumption trends in the UK. Science Of The Total Environment, 807(3).

(2) Rao, M., Wang, H., Zhao, S., Liu, J., Wen, Y., Wu, Z., Yang, Z., Su, C., Su, Z., Wang, K. and Tang, L., 2020. Subclinical hypothyroidism is associated with lower ovarian reserve in women aged 35 years or older. Thyroid, 30(1), pp.95-105.

(3) Toloza, F.J.K., Motahari, H, and Maraka, S. (2020) Consequences of severe iodine deficiency in pregnancy: evidence in humans. Frontiers in Endocrinology.

(4) Burns, K., Yap, C., Mina, A. and Gunton, J.E. (2018) 'Iodine deficiency in women of childbearing age: not bread alone?', Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 27(4), pp. 853-859.

(5) The Association of UK Dieticians (2019), https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/iodine_facts. [date accessed: Dec 2021].

(6) Xing, M., Gu, S., Wang, X., Mao, G., Mo, Z., Lou, X., Li, X., Huang, X., Wang, Y. and Wang, Z. (2021) Low iodine intake may decrease women’s fecundity: a population-based cross-sectional study. Nutrients, 13(9), p.3056.

(7) Mills, J.L., Buck Louis, G.M., Kannan, K., Weck, J., Wan, Y., Maisog, J., Giannakou, A., Wu, Q. and Sundaram, R. (2018) Delayed conception in women with low-urinary iodine concentrations: a population-based prospective cohort study. Human Reproduction, 33(3) pp. 426-433.

(8) Markhus, M.W., Dahl, L., Moe, V., Abel, M.H., Brantsaeter, A.L., Oyen, J., Meltzer, H.M., Stormark, K.M., Graff, I.E., Smith, L. and Kjellevold, M. (2018) Maternal iodine status is associated with offspring language skills in infancy and toddlerhood. Nutrients, 10(9) pp. 1270.

(9) Sarah C Bath, Colin D Steer, Jean Golding, Pauline Emmett, Margaret P Rayman, DPhil (2013) Effect of inadequate iodine status in UK pregnant women on cognitive outcomes in their children: results from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The Lancet, Volume 382, Issue 9889, P331-337.