Iodine is an essential trace element for health and it makes up a part of the important thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones play an important role in gene transcription (copying DNA) and regulating the body’s metabolic rate while at rest. The recommended daily intake of iodine, set by the U.S. Institute of Medicine is 110-130 mcg (micrograms) for infants under 1, 90 mcg for children up to 8, 130 mcg for children up to 13, 150 mcg for adults, 220 mcg for pregnant women and 290 mcg for mothers who are breastfeeding. Supplements containing iodine are available, but iodine can also be obtained through the diet.
Which foods are high in iodine?
Seaweed is one of the best sources of iodine on the planet. Just 7.1 grams (0.25 oz) provides more than 3000% of the recommended daily intake!
Seafood is another great source of iodine. This includes many species of fish, shrimp and oysters. Sushi is a great choice because it usually contains seaweed as well!
Eggs and dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are also a relatively good source of this trace element. Most meat is fairly low in iodine, but turkey has one of the higher iodine levels. However, all of these products are only high in iodine if iodine is being added to the animals diet.
Table salt is often fortified with iodine, and in some countries it is required. Bread may also be fortified with iodine but it is important to check the ingredients to be sure.
Many fruits and vegetables are high in iodine, but they cannot always be relied on for iodine intake because they must be grown in iodine rich soil!
Did you know?
Iodine deficiency causes hypothyroidism which has a number of symptoms such as fatigue, depression, weight gain and swollen thyroid gland. However, too much iodine can also be a problem and may cause irritation of throat and mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain. In high doses iodine can even be fatal!