Iodine is an essential mineral that plays a crucial role in the human body. It is naturally present in some foods, and is added to others - like salt. Despite being required in only small amounts, iodine is vital for the proper functioning of various organs, especially the thyroid gland.
what is iodine?
Iodine is a naturally occurring element found in the Earth's crust and seawater. It is a crucial component of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and growth. The human body cannot produce iodine on its own, so it must be obtained from the diet through natural food sources.
why do I need iodine?
Iodine is crucial for proper thyroid function, which affects many aspects of health, including:
- Metabolism: The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, which affects how the body uses energy.
- Growth and development: Thyroid hormones play a crucial role in fetal brain development and growth during childhood. It is required for proper skeletal and central nervous system development.
- Reproduction: Iodine deficiency can lead to fertility problems and complications during pregnancy, including miscarriage, stillbirth, and developmental delays in children.
- Cognitive function: Thyroid hormones are crucial for brain development and function. Iodine deficiency can lead to intellectual disabilities, especially in children.
how much iodine do I need?
The recommended daily intake of iodine varies depending on age and sex. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the recommended daily intake of iodine is as follows:
- Infants: 90-120 micrograms
- Children: 90-120 micrograms
- Adolescents: 120-150 micrograms
- Adults: 150 micrograms
- Pregnant women: 250 micrograms
- Breastfeeding women: 250 micrograms
natural food sources of iodine
Iodine can be found in a variety of natural foods including saltwater fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products and last, but certainly not least - sea vegetables. In fact, seaweeds have shown to be one of the best sources of natural iodine.
However, the iodine content of food can vary greatly depending on the region in which it is grown or harvested. In some areas, the earth’s soil is iodine-poor, resulting in iodine-deficient crops and livestock. It’s not uncommon for some regions of the world to be extremely iodine-deficient. Because of this, salt iodization programs have been implemented in many countries.
Iodine deficiency is a global health problem, affecting approximately two billion people worldwide. The most common consequence of iodine deficiency is goiter, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. Other consequences of iodine deficiency include hypothyroidism, intellectual disabilities, and developmental delays in children. However, through proper diet management and making sure you are getting enough iodine, these consequences can be entirely preventable.
*These statements are not regulated by the FDA and you should consult a healthcare professional before making any extreme dietary or health changes.