Due to its important role in fetal and infant development and thyroid hormone production, iodine is a critical nutrient for proper health at all life stages.
Iodine is present throughout the body in just about every organ and tissue. Iodine is needed by almost every bodily system.
Thyroid function relies on proper levels of iodine, so too much (or too little) can cause many serious health problems.
We rely on iodine to create thyroxine (T4 hormone) and triiodothyronine (T3), two of the main hormones produced by the thyroid that control numerous important functions.
WHY ARE MORE PEOPLE EXPERIENCING IODINE DEFICIENCY?
- A reduction in the amount of naturally iodine-rich foods in people’s diets (wild-caught fish, green vegetables and sea vegetables.
- Soil depletion is a concern for lowering iodine counts in foods
- Higher exposure rate to certain chemicals found in processed foods that reduce iodine absorption like the compound Bromine; which blocks iodine absorption
- widespread environmental Endocrine Disruptors such as: Mercury, Percholorate, and Nitrates are chemically similar to iodine and are quickly absorbed by the thyroid blocking iodine.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Choose Organic, local, wild caught foods. Sustainably grown food items are more likely to contain a higher level of nutrients than farm raised fish or conventionally produced versions. Iodine enters the body through iodine-rich foods, including certain salts, eggs, sea vegetables and fish. Look for ways to crowd out processed foods by choosing more of the following iodine rich foods
- Seaweed/ Dry Kelp *
- Lima & Navy Beans
- Green Peas
- Cranberries **
- Consider Himalayan or Celtic sea salt ***
* Read here to learn more on how you eat this seaweed stuff
** If purchasing juice, purchase 100% organic and add to water to flavor rather than drinking the concentrate.
*** Sea salt in place of iodized table salt. Sea salt contains more than 60 trace minerals and doesn’t pose a risk for over consuming iodine like table salt does. It’s also much more natural, beneficial and tastes better.
Disclaimer: People who have Hashimotos, thyroiditis or certain cases of hypothyroidism should speak with their doctor to discuss how much, if any, iodine should be taken through supplements carefully.
Kara Badgley is Good Medicine’s Clinical Coordinator and Functional Medicine Health Coach. She also provides online courses and coaching for families living with Autism. You can read more here.