Do you find it challenging to keep track of the food you need to eat to stay healthy? That’s understandable given the complex nutritional requirements of the human body–and it explains in part why so many people suffer from health problems. To help you avoid the doctor’s office, I’m going to discuss the importance of iodine.
What is iodine?
Iodine is a mineral naturally present in some foods and added to others.
Where does iodine come from?
It occurs naturally in soil, rocks, and seawater.
What does iodine look like in its natural form?
How do I know if I have an iodine deficiency or excess iodine in my diet?
Ask your primary physician to order a lab test. The test should contain three parts: thyroid function panel, thyroglobulin, and urinary iodine and bromine.
Does iodine act alone in my body?
No, it interacts with selenium, magnesium, iron, zinc, cortisol, and B6. If you ingest iodine but lack these other nutrients, your body may not absorb it. That’s why a lab test is important.
What happens if I don’t get enough iodine?
Scientists are still studying the impact of iodine on the human body. They’ve established that an iodine deficiency can enlarge your thyroid gland and cause hypothyroidism. Iodine is a vital component of the hormones made in the thyroid gland. These hormones impact your nervous system. Balancing the level of iodine in the thyroid gland is necessary to maintain good health. Too much or too little iodine can cause serious health issues including disruption in the function of your brain, muscles, and heart. Iodine also protects against breast disease, cancer, and ovarian cysts.
How much iodine do I need each day?
150 micrograms (mcg). Children should have 90-120 mcg per day.
Can I eat 300 mcg of iodine-rich foods in one day for the next two days?
Yes. Your body is capable of storing iodine in the thyroid gland.
Which plant-based foods contain iodine?
Seaweed absorbs iodine from seawater and serves as the best natural, dense, and humane form of iodine. Here are a few options:
Kelp: 750 mcg per tbsp
Dulse flakes: 600 mcg per tbsp (That’s all the iodine you need for five days in one tablespoon. I add dulse flakes to my homemade chili. You can also add it to soup and salads. It smells like the ocean, but it has almost no taste and should not disrupt your dishes.)
What are some other sources of iodine and how much iodine do these foods contain?
Cranberries: 100 mcg per ounce (I buy frozen whole organic cranberries and sprinkle them in my salad. The ingredients are: organic cranberries. They contain no added sugar or fat. Processed chewy cranberries are loaded with unhealthy oils and sugar, so I recommend avoiding them.)
Wakama: 80 mcg per tbsp
Yellow potato: 60 mcg per cup
Nori: 32 mcg per sheet
Prune: 13 mcg per five whole
Strawberries: 13 mcg per cup
Sweet potatoes: 6 mcg per cup
Cantaloupe: 6 mcg per cup
Spinach: 4 mcg per cup
Bananas: 3 mcg per banana
Green beans: 3 mcg per half cup
Can I get iodine from iodized salt?
Yes, but it’s much healthier to obtain it naturally from plant-based food. The sodium in table salt can increase your blood pressure and cause other health issues. Iodized salt contains 150 mcg per 1/2 teaspoon, which equals 1,200 mg of sodium or about 25% of the DRA per day. People with high blood pressure should consider other options. The majority of salt intake in the U.S. comes from processed foods, and the majority of food manufacturers use non-iodized salt.
Does pink Himalayan sea salt contain iodine?
Is it true that sea vegetables such as dulse flakes and kelp contain radioactivity from the Japanese nuclear disaster and dangerous heavy metals?
After reading reports about the risk of eating sea vegetables, I called Maine Seacoast to learn more about the issue. They publish annual study results to address these concerns. You can read the test results on their website. In short, they concluded their products are safe to eat.
Iodine is an essential mineral your body needs to function. Eating healthy plant-based food and supplementing with whole foods such as seaweed, e.g., dulse flakes, should help you meet iodine requirements.