Iodine is a mineral that is needed in the creation of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine and triiodothyronine, that regulate growth and metabolism.
You will need less than a teaspoon of iodine in your entire lifetime to ensure good health. You only need 150 micrograms, or one 20,000th of a teaspoon, to meet your daily requirement. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should be getting 290 micrograms daily.
High iodine intake may result in hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and goiter. Poisoning symptoms include: fever, abdominal pain, burning mouth, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, coma and weak pulse.
Even though iodine exists in most plant and animal foods, there are 54 countries identified by the World Health Organization as having a high iodine-deficient population. There are two hypotheses to why this iodine deficiency occurs in these countries:
- People that live in these countries are in parts of the world where there are low levels of iodine in the soil and sea.
- People that live in these countries consume high amounts of refined foods that lose their iodine content during refinement.
Iodine deficiency may result in cretinism (retarded brain development in children), thyroid disorders, brain disorders and miscarriages. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, weight gain, mental slowness, high cholesterol, goiter (a swelling of the thyroid gland) and depression.
Goiter. Without enough iodine, you will see the slowly enlarge whilst it tries to keep up creating the thyroid hormone. In a goiter, you can have nodules appear. Those with large goiters can difficulty breathing and swallowing, this is even more common if lying down.
Hypothyroidism. Whilst your body’s iodine levels are low, you might develop hypothyroidism due to your body’s inability to produce thyroid hormones. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Coarse, dry hair
- Difficulty losing or gaining weight
- Pale and dry skin
- Cold intolerance
- Hair loss
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Memory loss
- Decreased libido
If left untreated, hypothyroidism complications can result in severe life-threatening depression, heart failure or coma.
Pregnancy Issues. Iodine is important for pregnant women or those breastfeeding. Severe deficiency may cause with birth defects, miscarriages, preterm delivery or stillbirth. It can also cause issues with growth in the child as well as speech and hearing problems.
Foods With Iodine
- Kelp and other sea vegetables (kelp has 2000mcg per 1 tbsp)
- Cranberries (400mcg per 4 oz)
- Cod (99mcg per 3 oz)
- Dairy products, specifically cow’s milk and yogurt (yogurt has 75 mcg per 1 cup)
- Table salt (71mcg per 1/4 tsp)
- Potato with skin (60mcg per 1 medium-sized)
- Fish sticks (54mcg per 3 oz)
- Enriched white bread (45mcg per 2 slices)
- Shrimp (35mcg per 3 oz)
- Navy beans (32 mcg per 1/2 cup)
- Chocolate ice cream (30mcg per 1/2 cup)
- Eggs (24mcg per 1)
- Canned tuna in oil (17mcg per 3 oz)
- Strawberries (13 mcg per 1 cup)
- Banana (3mcg per 1 medium-sized)
Cooking, Storage and Proccessing
Iodine is stable in storage and many types of processing. You won’t lose iodine in sea vegetables, even if stored for a long period of time. If you cook iodine-rich foods, you will lose a significant amount of iodine to the cooking water. Use this cooking water as a stock base and save that iodine that you lost through cooking.