Foods High in Iodine
Iodine is a chemical element essential for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate growth and metabolism. Diets deficient in iodine increase risk of retarded brain development in children (cretinism), mental slowness, high cholesterol, lethargy, weight gain, and goiter: a swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck.
What foods are naturally high in iodine? Iodine is a component of almost every living plant and animal. No standard measurements of iodine in food exist because iodine concentrations vary across the world. In general, foods from the sea contain the most iodine, followed by animal foods, and then plant foods. Of all foods seaweed, like kelp, is the most famous and reliable source of natural iodine, however egg and dairy products can also be good sources.How much iodine do I need? In your entire lifetime you will need less than a teaspoon of iodine to ensure good health, however, your body cannot store iodine so you have to eat a little bit every day. You only need 150 micrograms (or a 1000th of a teaspoon) to meet your daily requirement.
If iodine is in most plant and animal foods how can anyone be deficient? According to the World Health Organization iodine deficiencies exist in 54 countries as of 2003.
There is no exact answer as to why iodine deficiencies occur, however, two theories exist:
- People live in a part of the world with low levels of iodine in the soil or sea.
- People eat high amounts of refined foods that lose their iodine content during refinement. Refined sugar, for example, has no iodine.
Some countries, like the U.S., show risk from excess iodine intake which suggests over consumption of foods fortified in iodine, like salt.
Beware: Too much iodine can be bad for you. Over consumption of iodine can be toxic and just as damaging as a deficiency. As little as 1000 micrograms of Iodine in a day causes irritations like burning of the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, and even coma. Like under-consumption, too much iodine prevents proper production of thyroid hormones leading to goiter.I don’t eat salt, meat, or seaweed, where can I get iodine? Your options are to consider supplements, buy foods enriched in iodine, or ensure that the plant foods you consume come from parts of the world where the soil is rich in iodine.