Research has shown that a lack of dietary iodine may lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, weight gain and possibly even mental states such as anxiety and depression. Autism has also been linked to Iodine deficiencies. The good news is that there are many popular foods with iodine, all of which are easy to incorporate into your daily diet.
Iodine is significantly depleted by stress.
Stress increases the need for thyroid hormones. Iodine is the main mineral used in the production of thyroid hormones, and oestrogen hormones. Iodine’s role in thyroid health is essential as without iodine our thyroid cannot produce the essential thyroid hormones which control metabolism in every cell in our body, our mood, heart rate, blood flow, temperature regulation, energy metabolism, growth and brain development in children, and reproductive health.
In addition, iodine deficiency is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disabilities. We need it to be smart!
We are increasingly more at risk of having iodine deficiency, due to less availability of iodine in the diet, more competing toxins, and more stress on the system. Thyroid problems are more prevalent than ever before.
When taken, Iodine is a component of saliva and has a protective antibacterial effect both in the mouth, which is our first line of defence. In the rest of the body our white blood cells use iodine to kill pathogen microorganisms. Iodine destroys mould, fungus, and many parasites including malaria.
Iodine can be displaced by fluoride, chloride and bromide which are prevalent in our environment. Our water contains fluoride and chloride. Chloride is important in the water supply as a disinfection for clean drinking water. However chloride is also used as a bleaching agent in cleaning, paper products, white flour, and other foods, which results in an overload of chlorine in our environment. Bromine is used as an additive in baked goods containing flour and in pesticides.
Babies with chronic ear, nose, or throat infections may have low immune function due to low levels of iodine in breast milk from the mother. Especially if the mum has thyroid issues during pregnancy.
The main obvious symptoms of thyroid problems and possible iodine deficiency are depression, weight gain, fatigue, memory problems, weakness, stiff joints, dry skin, depression, sensitivity to cold and constipation.
Iodine in food and iodine requirements
The biggest source of iodine is seafood such as oysters, seaweed, sushi, salmon, sardines, and then a small amount in cheese and eggs. The only problem with a lot of seafood is potential contamination with mercury, except sardines, which are smaller and less likely to have a high mercury load.
These are many good reasons to top up your iodine with supplementation or specific foods from time to time, filter your water, avoid too many commercially baked goods, avoid bleached products, degas (air out) any plastic products you buy, and wash your fruit and vegetables well.
Supplementation: Pregnant and breast feeding women may require iodine supplementation, though consultation with a doctor is recommended before commencing a supplementation program.
Table 1. Iodine content of common foods:
|Food||Iodine content (µg per 100g)|
|Sushi (containing seaweed)||92|
|Bread (made with iodised salt)||46|
|Bread (without iodised salt)||3|
|Beef, pork, lamb||<1.5|
|Tap water (varies depending on site)||0.5-20.0|
|Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas||<0.5|
Table 2: Iodine recommendations in Australia and New Zealand
|Age and Gender||RDI|
|1-8yrs boys and girls||90µg/day|
|9-13yrs boys and girls||120 µg/day|
|14-18yrs boys and girls||150µg/day|
RDI: Recommended Daily Intake
- Labrie, Suzanne. The Nutrition Code: Activate your body to heal and thrive with 4 key strategies and simple nutritional supplements (Kindle Locations 1141-1142). SpiritCast Network. Kindle Edition.
- Mahan L.K., Stump S.E. (2004): Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy, 11th, Saunders, Pennsylvania.
- Australian Government, (2005):Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, “Iodine”, pp: 181-185, accessed: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/publications/synopses/_files/n35.pdf, 19/06/09.
(Updated link http://www.nrv.gov.au/, April 2014)
- Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, (2009): Mandatory Iodine Fortification, accessed: 23/06/09, http://www.foodstandards.gov.au