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Iodine is an important mineral that promotes healthy cognition and thyroid hormone production.
What is Iodine?
Iodine is a mineral that contributes to the production of T4 and T3, the thyroid hormones. Low levels of iodine can result in suboptimal levels of thyroid hormones and may contribute to hypothyroidism. Nearly 80% of the body’s iodine stores are in the thyroid gland.
Iodine also plays an important role in healthy fetal development—low levels can result in thyroid problems in the mother that could lead to pregnancy complications like miscarriage, reduced cognition, or cretinism.
Health Benefits of Iodine
- Supports synthesis of thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism and influence energy levels, weight, and more
- Promotes a healthy immune response
- Supports healthy fetal development
- Promotes breast health
Food Sources of Iodine
There are many food sources of iodine. Iodized table salt makes up a good portion of US iodine intake, but is not included here since it is a fortified food.
Foods naturally high in iodine include
Iodine is an essential nutrient but is less common as a standalone dietary supplement. It is added to table salt but is also found in food sources and multivitamins. This typically results in an adequate dietary intake that avoids deficiency in the US and other developed countries, but in underdeveloped countries, iodine deficiency is a major public health problem. Iodine may not be found in all multivitamins but is commonly found in prenatal vitamins.
Iodine poses a low toxicity risk. When too much is consumed it is removed from the body efficiently, although, in people who have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or other autoimmune conditions that impact the thyroid, excess iodine supplementation can worsen the condition. Extremely high intake of iodine can result in transient hyperthyroidism or goiter and hypothyroidism, which is swelling and enlargement of the thyroid gland.
In developed countries, people who may be at risk for low iodine levels include:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding individuals, primarily because they have higher requirements
- People who eat a vegetarian or vegan diet
- People who do not eat iodized table salt and don’t consume seaweed or other iodine-containing foods
- People who need parenteral nutrition
- People who are deficient in selenium, vitamin A, and/or iron
(PPNF Note: When available, nutrition counseling is the best way to determine the supplements that are right for you. We understand that it is not always affordable or accessible. When taking supplements, follow recommended product guidelines unless a practitioner directs you otherwise.)
Today’s Simple Step
Even if you don’t have thyroid problems, you need iodine to keep your thyroid running smoothly. Eating iodine-rich foods on a regular basis can support a healthy metabolism and hormone levels.
This Coconut Curry Thai Shrimp Soup is a great way to include iodine in your diet. It’s also a flavorful meal that will become an instant favorite.