Iodine is an important part of your diet. It is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. Since your body does not make iodine, it needs to be a part of your healthy diet. If you don’t have enough in your body, you can’t make enough thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency can lead to enlargement of the thyroid, hypothyroidism, and to mental retardation in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy.
Iodine has four important functions in your body:
- Stabilization of metabolism and body weight
- Brain development in children
- Optimization of your immune system
These are just a few reasons why it’s an important part of your diet.
The History of Iodine
Before the 1920s, iodine deficiency was very common in Northwestern U.S. regions and in most parts of Canada. This deficiency led to the introduction of iodized salt, which has virtually eliminated the the deficiencies and all of the medical problems related to deficiency in these areas. Unfortunately, many parts of the world still don’t have enough in their diets so deficiency continues in those areas. The World Health Organization keeps a database on deficiency by country based on goitre prevalence and/or urinary iodine, which can be found here: http://www.who.int/vmnis/database/iodine/countries/en/.
Is Iodine Missing From Your Diet?
It’s common knowledge that seaweed has high iodine content. It is needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which is critical to a healthy metabolism by controlling how quickly the body uses energy and makes proteins, as well as controlling the body’s usage of other hormones.
As stated above, deficiency was once very common in the western world until it began to be added to table salt (iodized salt) in the 20th century. However, now that people are trying to reduce their salt intake, it is estimated that iodine deficiency disorders may affect up to 2 billion worldwide in regions that do not have high seafood or seaweed consumption. Are you one of these people?
Common Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency
Iodine deficiency is one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies, along with magnesium and vitamin D. How can you tell if you suffer from a deficiency? Symptoms may include weight gain, weakness, muscle aches, depression, fatigue, constipation, hair loss or coarse dry hair, poor memory, slowed heart rate, dry skin, or increased cold sensitivity. It is is also vital to breast health in older women. Low intake has been correlated to increased risks for breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease.
How Can You Get More Into Your Diet?
Many people don’t want to increase their consumption of iodized salt to get more iodine into their diet. A few other ways you can get more into your diet includes consuming more dairy and eggs (all good sources), eating more seafood, or taking a seaweed supplement. For many people, a seaweed supplement is the easiest option for getting more iodine into their diets. To ensure that you’re consuming a safe product, look for the following in any supplement you consider taking:
- Organic vegetarian and vegan
- Whole food supplement
- 100% natural
- Contains fucoidan
- Contains Omega 3 and Omega 6
- Uses a blend of whole sea plants
Iodine is a very important part of a healthy diet. If you’re unsure about whether you’re deficient or not, ask you doctor if you should consider a seaweed supplement.