I is for Iodine

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Randi Karlinsky MS, RDN, LDN, CHC, NASM-CPT

Iodine is a trace mineral, which means we only need a small amount for it to be sufficient. The National Institute of Health recommends adults consume an average of 150 mcg of iodine daily. Our main source of iodine comes in the form of iodized salt, which is a commonly sold product across all U.S. grocery stores.

Researchers still have a lot to learn about iodine’s role in our health. However, its role in thyroid health is crystal clear. Iodine is an essential part of the production of the thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone is responsible for many important functions in the body such as regulating metabolism and proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Falling short of iodine needs can lead to a decrease in thyroid hormone production. The first visible sign of iodine deficiency is the formation of a goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland. The less visible symptoms in adults specifically include the inability to focus or think clearly.

Iodine deficiency is currently on the rise as Americans are depending more and more on packaged/processed foods. Although these foods are high in sodium, the salt used isn’t necessarily fortified with iodine. It’s hard to know what each manufacturer and specific product is using, so the less we depend on these products and the more we cook at home, the better our chances are at meeting all of our nutrient needs including iodine.

Iodine food sources:

  • Fish & shellfish – scallops, cod, salmon, tuna, sardines, and shrimp

  • Sea Vegetables – kelp, wakame, seaweed

  • Diary – milk, yogurt, cheese

  • Grains – breads and cereals

  • Iodized salt

One final note, too much iodine can be just as dangerous as not having enough. For this reason, it is important to consume iodine through natural food sources only. I do not recommend taking an iodine supplement unless prescribed by your physician.

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