What mineral is required for thyroid hormone synthesis, regulates cortisol and immune function, and is a powerful antioxidant? Iodine, which may seem like an insignificant mineral is required for all of those things and more. Currently the world is using less and less iodized salt for preparation in food, and this places many of us in danger of becoming iodine deficient. Deficiency in iodine causes abnormal swelling of the neck or goiter, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, depression, and in women, iodine is essential for maintaining breast health. Breast cancer incidences in Japan are virtually nonexistent because women consume twenty five times the amount of iodine that American women do. Iodine deficiency is also the most preventable cause of brain damage. Pregnant women who are deficient are at higher risk for having a stillborn child or one with birth defects. For veggie lovers who are vegetarian or vegan, if you are not including seaweed in your diet, you are putting yourself at greater risk for deficiency. Is it me, or did seaweed all of sudden get really sexy? Keep in mind you can add seaweed to soups, make nori wraps or veggie sushi, sprinkle dulse flakes on your salads, and more to ensure you get your iodine in.
The recommended daily allowance for adults over 19 years of age iodine is 150 micrograms daily. It’s important to not consume too much iodine because toxicity can also cause health problems such as gastrointestinal upset, acne, increased salivation, fever, nausea, vomiting, and elevated levels of thyroid hormone. The best way to boost your iodine intake on a vegetarian diet is to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet such as: kelp, dulse, nori, wakame, arame, hiziki, kombu, irish moss. Black eye peas and navy beans also have a decent amount of iodine, strawberries, cranberries, organic yogurt, navy beans, cheese, and potatoes.
Most minerals have inhibitors, or nutrients that can block the proper absorption and uptake by the body. In the case of iodine, goitrogens are substances in chemicals, foods or drugs that can interfere with iron uptake in the thyroid gland. Goitrogens are found in soy products, cassava, sweet potato, peanuts, pine nuts, raw cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, turnips etc. Don’t get spooked about consuming these foods, which have other nutrients that are beneficial to the body; just take care especially if focused on increasing iodine intake to not consume meals with these foods at the same time of iodine supplementation.
Ensuring that your iodine intake is optimal can prevent radiation induced thyroid cancer, decrease the pain of fibrocystic breasts, and also prevent mental retardation, which is a direct result of iodine deficiency. Although it is not always the first mineral that comes to mind are essential, clearly the lack of iodine can have a drastic impact on health. Hope this article inspires you to do a double take when you pass the seaweed in the grocery store! Just make sure that the seaweed you choose to consume is organic and free of heavy metals. -XO Raw Girl
7 Foods Rich in Iodine. (2015, February 25). Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-foods/
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