Iodine is a mineral and trace element that is found naturally in the earth and also in certain foods that we eat. While many people pay attention to how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats they get in daily meals, very few of us give a second thought to iodine consumption. However, this is an important part of nutrition and found in some healthy foods you may already be eating regularly.
Here’s an overview of the importance of iodine in the diet and how to get the iodine you need through food and natural supplements.
Health Effects of Iodine
The human body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones and maintain the body’s metabolism. Iodine also affects the development and maintenance of the bones and brain. This is why it is especially important from pregnant women and babies to get enough iodine in their diets. Iodine has also been studied for its effects on fibrocystic breast disease and fighting infections.
Issues with Inadequate Iodine
People who are most at risk of having an iodine deficiency are pregnant women, people who eat a lot of processed foods (processed foods are often high in salt but not iodized salt), and people who don’t eat fish. If you aren’t getting enough iodine in your diet, you may develop a swollen thyroid gland and goiter. You may also find yourself gaining weight unexpectedly because of a slowed-down metabolism. Other symptoms of an iodine deficiency include fatigue, hair loss, feeling cold, a slow heartbeat, and irregular periods for menstruating women.
Foods That Contain Iodine
Fish is one of the best foods that you can eat to get the iodine your body needs, especially cod and tuna. Shrimp and seaweed are also excellent sources of iodine. Although you should limit your salt intake, always buy and use iodized salt for your cooking and seasoning needs. Lima beans, pinto beans, prunes, and eggs provide the body with iodine.
Other healthy foods that contain iodine include milk, cheese, yogurt, cereal, and certain fruits and vegetables. Sea vegetables are the best non-meat sources of iodine. To make eating seaweed easier and tastier, try Seagate’s Seaweed Freeze-Dried Capsules and Seaweed Powder.
How Much Iodine to Consume
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult should get about 150 micrograms (mcg) or iodine per day. However, pregnant women need closer to 220 mcg of iodine and breastfeeding women need about 290 mcg of iodine per day to support their growing babies. Children and teens need between 90 mcg and 150 mcg of iodine daily depending on their age, with males and females needing approximately the same amount of this nutrient to fuel their bodies each day.