Iodine is an essential mineral that is easily attainable through your diet. Without sufficient iodine intake, the thyroid cannot produce hormones, which affect many bodily functions. Thyroid hormones work to regulate metabolism and assist with bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. If you don’t meet the recommended daily intake (RDI) of iodine, which is 150 micrograms (mcg) for most adults, you will need to supplement.
What Is Iodine And Why Do You Need It?
Roughly one third of the world’s population is deficient in iodine. People who live in areas with soil that has low iodine content (many countries in Europe and United Kingdom) often fail to consume the RDI of iodine. When the body doesn’t have enough iodine, the thyroid cannot make enough thyroid hormones, which maintain healthy cells and normal metabolic rate. Pregnant women require more iodine (about 240-300 mcg per day) because it supports fetal brain and skeletal development. You don’t need an excessive amount of iodine because too much can negatively impact your health. Do not exceed 1,100 mcg per day, which is 7.3 times the RDI.
Why Is Salt Iodized?
In the early 1900s, many people experienced iodine deficiency. The reason for this was because iodine could only be found in saltwater fish and grains grown in iodine-rich soil. For landlocked residents, particularly in the middle of the country, obtaining those foods was near impossible. In an effort to combat this deficiency, the government began fortifying salt with iodine in 1924.
Nowadays, it’s very easy to get iodine from a variety of plant-based foods. We’ve detailed the best vegan sources of iodine below.
This popular seaweed has a slightly sweet flavor, and it is popularly used to make miso soup. The amount of iodine in wakame will depend on where it grows. For example, wakame from New Zealand and Australia has less iodine than wakame from Asia. A collection of studies found that wakame generally averages to about 66 mcg per gram, which amounts to 44% of the RDI.
These starchy root vegetables are beneficial for your health, so long as you don’t solely eat them in French fry form. They contain healthy amounts of vitamins B6 and C, and one medium Idaho potato contains about 60 mcg of iodine. You can steam, sauté, roast, or boil and mash potatoes to get the iodine.
Kombu kelp is a brown seaweed that’s either sold in fresh sheets or dried in the form of a fine powder. One sheet of kombu kelp can contain up to 2,984 mcg of iodine, which is 2,000% of the RDI. Now, this is an excessive amount, which can be dangerous for people with existing thyroid problems, but you can consume a little to meet the RDI. One study examined the iodine content in various seaweeds from different Asian countries. The results determined that kombu kelp had the highest amount.
Which navy beans are the strongest? The seals, obviously! Bad jokes aside, navy beans got their name because they were one of the most common foods eaten by sailors. While they are rich in iron, folate, fiber, and potassium, navy beans also contain 32 mcg of iodine per 1/2 cup. You can add them to soups, stir-fries, stews, and more.
We aren’t talking about Craisins and we are definitely not talking about canned cranberries. Fresh cranberries contain beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants that exhibit anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain 400 mcg of iodine per four ounces. They are abundant during the fall and winter months because that is when they are in season. Get your hands on them to increase your iodine levels!
Yes, we included another seaweed on this list, but seaweeds happen to be the best sources of iodine for vegans. Dulse is a red algae that contains a lot of minerals, including iron, potassium, and vitamin B6. It’s cholesterol- and fat-free and contains 1,169 mcg of iodine per 7 grams. You can season foods with dulse instead of salt if you need a little more acidity.