WARNING! Seaweed During Pregnancy

WARNING! Seaweed During Pregnancy

NSW Health issued a warning to pregnant and breastfeeding women about seaweed soup, saying that the “soup can have iodine level hundreds of times higher than the recommended daily intake” and that “high levels of iodine intake can cause hypothyroidism in newborn babies.”

The soup has since become symbolically linked with birth in the country. In contrast to the traditional Western birthday cake, Koreans also eat “birthday miyeokguk” which helps celebrate birthdays and show appreciation for the mother who laboured to give birth.

Despite the age-long tradition of eating the soup, however, some studies have pointed toward a link between thyroid cancer and an excessive consumption of seaweed.

Recent research has found excessive amounts of the soup can affect the thyroid gland due to the high levels of iodine that is sometimes in some strands of seaweed. Although the thyroid needs iodine to produce essential hormones to regulate metabolism, excessive amounts can lead to hyperthyroidism.

In the case of cooking miyeokgook with dry seaweed, the study found 100mg of the soup contains 9000μg of iodine. The state institution advises 220μg of iodine for pregnant mothers and 270μg for breastfeeding mothers.

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