Iodine and Thyroid Health

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Iodine is a trace mineral that is required for normal thyroid function. It is abundant in our oceans and depending on the location and farming methods, also found in our soils. We do not need to consume huge amounts of iodine to benefit from it essential properties but we do need approximately 150 micrograms per day. Some high sources of iodine are

  • Seaweed such as kelp, wakame, kombi, nori, dulse flakes (these are the best, dense sources of iodine and you can use them in soups, salads and sushi or even put a dulse flake in your porridge or smoothie and it is almost flavourless)
  • Eggs
  • Yoghurt
  • Miso Paste
  • Spirulina

Iodine is needed by the thyroid as it is a constituent of the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and tri-iodothyronine ( T3). They regulate the metabolic rate; our growth and use of energy and body heat. When they do not function correctly you can develop and suffer from hypothyroidism, with symptoms including fatigue, depression, increased weight, concentration problems, puffy face, sensitivity to the cold, slow heart rate and development of a goitre ( lump on neck from enlarged thyroid gland.) This can be caused by an auto-immune disease, Hashimotos or is attributed to a deficiency of iodine in the diet.

Many of us have low iodine levels today due to a variety of inhibiting factors such as;

  • alcohol consumption
  • smoking
  • the Oral Contraceptive Pill
  • pregnancy
  • not enough iodine containing foods consumed

You can find out if you are low in iodine through a urine test done by your doctor. If you are low then you also should be mindful about eating too many goitrin forming compounds that can block thyroid hormone synthesis. These are found in soy products and the brassica family; cauliflower, broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, bok chou, turnips, when they are broken down raw. Obviously these foods have extremely good benefits, so I would not stop eating them if I had low iodine levels, I would simply not be having high amounts of them raw, instead I would eat them cooked as it stops the inhibiting process and alternate them with other vegetable types, while boosting my intake of iodine containing foods for a period.

The photos are some inspiration how to include seaweeds therefor iodine, into our diets:)

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