Iodine Rich Foods and Their Role

Bass Swimming in Kelp

Iodine is a dietary mineral found naturally in iodine rich foods such as seafood and some vegetables.

Iodine Rich Foods

For the thyroid to function properly, it is important to take in small amounts of dietary iodine. As a water-soluble miner found in foods, it is stored in the thyroid. While iodized salt is one source of iodine, when looking for natural sources of the dietary mineral, one the best places to look is the sea; salt water to be specific. Iodine is found in creatures that thrive in saline water as well as the plants that grow from the soil at the bottom of these salt water bodies. Iodized salt is also a source of iodine. The following list of iodine rich foods help to see how easy it is to consume iodine naturally:

  • Asparagus
  • Cod
  • Cow's milk
  • Dairy products
  • Dulse
  • Eggs
  • Fish oils
  • Garlic
  • Haddock
  • Herring
  • Lima beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Nori
  • Salmon
  • Sea Bass
  • Sea Kelp
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame seeds
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Summer squash
  • Swiss chard
  • Tuna
  • Turnip greens
  • Yogurt

Role of Iodine

The role of the mineral iodine in the thyroid gland is to make a hormone called thyroxine. This hormone is needed to regulate metabolism which in turn allows the body to burn calories efficiently as fuel. In fact, the production of thyroxine is diametrically proportional to the basic metabolic rate. Thyroxine also regulates development and growth in children. This dietary mineral is also necessary for protein synthesis and influences

  • Blood pressure
  • Heart rate
  • Helps metabolize fat
  • Helps mucus in the respiratory tract to loosen
  • Regulation of estrogens
  • Temperature
  • Weight

Iodine Deficiency

When insufficient dietary iodine is consumed, it can result in an enlarged thyroid gland commonly known as a goiter. While this isn't the only cause for goiter, it is the most common reason attributed to this condition around the world. Other symptoms of iodine deficiency include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Weight gain

Word of Caution

Most people in the US get enough iodine through using iodized salt and consuming iodine rich foods. Our bodies don't need large amounts of iodine. The RDA is only 150 mcg a day for adults, a little more for people who are pregnant and 200 mcg while breastfeeding.

Some foods known as "goiterogens" contain substances that naturally block the absorption of iodine when eaten raw. However, goiterogens are deactivated when these foods are cooked. Foods containing goiterogens include:

  • Cabbage
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Turnips

If these foods are regularly consumed raw, the amount of iodine consumed may need to be increased. However, if this is a concern, talk with your doctor. In fact, if you suspect you may not be eating enough iodine through the foods you eat and are considering taking an iodine supplement, it is important to talk with your doctor first. While dietary supplementation of iodine is on the increase, it can lead to side effects including allergic reactions. More serious conditions may develop with accidental overdose including burning in the mouth, throat and stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, a weak pulse and even coma. For these reasons, supplementation should always be monitored by your healthcare provider.

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Iodine Rich Foods and Their Role