Iodine sounds like a crazy chemical, but it’s actually an essential mineral. You need iodine to survive! The body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones or TH.
These molecules control everything from the muscle and heart to the kidney and brain. Even metabolism depends on thyroid hormones. The body can’t make iodine, so you need to get it through food. Eating iodine-rich sources is the best way to prevent deficiency.
About Iodine Deficiency
At least 1, 572 million people worldwide are at risk for iodine deficiency disorders, or IDD. The problem mostly affects developing countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and some parts of Europe.
IDD usually stems from the poor quality soil. The food grown in this soil doesn’t absorb enough iodine, so the people who eat it don’t get enough. Generally, IDD is a geographical problem, but some factors can make it worse such as.1
- Protein-energy malnutrition
- Contaminated drinking water
- Diets that mess with intestinal absorption
Iodine Deficiency In America
In the early 20th century, iodine deficiency was more common. But as iodized salt and processed food became more available, it became less of an issue. It might be the only benefit of high salt intake. Today, half of U.S. population uses iodized salt.2
The ocean is the most concentrated source of iodine. Sea life soaks it all up, but thanks to the wide reach of the food industry, it’s easy to buy seafood at your local grocery.
Foods High In Iodine
Iodized salt isn’t an excuse to increase sodium intake. Instead of eating processed foods, reach for these healthier sources.
Are you a fan of Japanese or Korean food? You’ll be happy to know that seaweed, a staple in both cuisines, is rich in iodine. The highest levels are found in kelp.
However, seaweed has so much iodine that you can go overboard. Just 1/4-ounce dried seaweed may have more than 4,500 micrograms, but adults only need 150 micrograms every day.3 Too much iodine reduces thyroid hormone synthesis, which can harm your health rather than helping it.4
If you don’t like fishy flavors, eat cod. It’s a mild-tasting fish and rich in iodine. A 3-ounce serving has 66 percent of your daily iodine intake!5 Additionally, cod is a lean source of protein and healthy fats. Eat it with brown rice, quinoa, or a leafy salad.
Another iodine-rich seafood is shrimp. Three ounces gives you 35 micrograms or 23 percent of your daily intake.6 It also counts as a delicious lean protein. Shrimp works well in pasta, salads, and stews. For a simple snack, grab cocktail sauce and have it.
4. Canned Tuna
Need something more convenient? Canned tuna is a perfect choice. A can of tuna will have up to 23 percent of your iodine recommendation,7 along with protein and healthy fats. Keep it healthy by skipping mayonnaise. Instead, smash avocado and mix together.
5. Cow’s Milk
If you’re not lactose intolerant, enjoy a glass of cow’s milk. An 8-ounce serving offers 66 percent of your iodine needs, plus calcium and vitamin D.8 Warm milk makes for a perfect nightcap. Otherwise, add it to smoothies or eat with cereal.
6. Cooked Navy Beans
Beans contain fiber, protein, and iodine. Half a cup of cooked navy beans has 32 micrograms or 22 percent of your daily intake.9 Toss navy beans with salad, pasta, or quinoa. You even mash it up and make veggie burgers.
7. Boiled Egg
Eggs are known for their vitamin A and protein content. Now, add iodine to the list! One large boiled egg has only 12 micrograms,10 but it’s a smart choice if you don’t eat seafood or dairy. For a healthy egg salad, chop it up and mix with avocado. Top off salads or quinoa with boiled egg, herbs, and spices.
Iodine is important, but don’t go overboard. Too much causes the same symptoms of iodine deficiency! The risk for thyroid gland inflammation and thyroid cancer also increases.11
|↑1||Kapil, Umesh. “Health consequences of iodine deficiency.” Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal 7, no. 3 (2007): 267.|
|↑2||Iodine. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑3, ↑5, ↑6, ↑7, ↑8, ↑9, ↑10, ↑11||Iodine. Oregon State University.|
|↑4||Teas, Jane, Sam Pino, Alan Critchley, and Lewis E. Braverman. “Variability of iodine content in common commercially available edible seaweeds.” Thyroid 14, no. 10 (2004): 836-841.|