Iodine and Its Importance in Supporting Thyroid Health
Contributor: Saffron & Sage
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
Of all the glands present in our body, the thyroid is a very special one. This butterfly shaped gland sits within the throat behind your windpipe. This little gland may be small, but it has a very important job to do. The thyroid releases two different hormones which play key roles in regulating the metabolism of all our cells and a variety of basic bodily functions such as: breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. The thyroid gland works very closely with the brain and other glands to carefully regulate hormone levels within the blood stream.
One of the key building blocks of thyroid hormones is iodine. Our body is unable to produce iodine, so it needs to be consumed daily. If an individual does not consume enough iodine, the thyroid is unable to produce the proper amount of hormones. This condition is known as hypothyroidism. Some of the symptoms of this condition are:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to cold
- Joint and muscle pain
- Changes in mood
Iodine deficiency has greatly decreased due to the addition of iodine to table salt. Iodized salt has nearly eliminated iodine deficiency in the Western world. However, consuming sufficient amounts of iodine can be made difficult if one is attempting to limit their salt intake to lower blood pressure. For those who are attempting to set aside the salt shaker, here are some foods that are rich sources of iodine:
- Potatoes – this starchy staple often has a bad reputation as being unhealthy. However, potatoes contain a variety of important nutrients including iodine. One serving size can provide up to 40% of your daily value (DV) of iodine. If you prefer mashed over baked potatoes, make sure to leave the skins in the mix as many nutrients can be found there.
- Seaweed – yet another reason to enjoy some fresh sushi! Seaweed is incredibly rich in iodine. Dried seaweed can contain as much as 3000% DV!
- Seafood – a variety of seafood contain varying levels of iodine. Lobster and shrimp contain high amounts of iodine. However, if you are looking for a simpler, more versatile, and more economical substitute, cod is also a rich source of iodine (66% DV)
- Yogurt – a serving of simple plain yogurt can provide up to 58% DV. Add a serving of iodine rich fruit such as bananas and strawberries and you have a tasty snack, breakfast, or treat.
- Navy beans – these little legumes pack a nutrient dense punch! On top of a variety of other nutrients, these tasty additions to chili and soups can contain up to 21% of your daily value of iodine.
Incorporating these foods can help you to maintain your iodine intake while also limiting your intake of salt.