What Is Iodine and Why Is It Important for the Thyroid?

a handful of fresh seaweed against the sea background

Iodine and Thyroid are two commonly unknown or little known things, but it’s extremely important to become educated about them, for everyone’s sake. Iodine is an essential element for the production of the thyroid hormone, which affects so many areas of the body. Like some essential amino acids, the body doesn’t produce iodine on its own, so it has to be obtained from food. Dietary sources of iodine include meat and dairy, but for the purposes of our belief in a plant based diet as the healthiest, you can obtain iodine in plant sources such as sweet potatoes, strawberries, pink himalayan salt, cranberries, dried prunes, navy beans, bananas, green beans, and, the ‘go to’ and surest source: dried, raw seaweed. You can also take iodine supplements.

The thyroid is a gland in the lower, front part of the throat that secretes a hormone necessary for brain development during infancy and childhood. It helps the body use energy, regulate metabolism, stay warm, and helps other organs in the body work as they should, like the heart and muscles.

When the thyroid doesn’t have enough iodine, problems such as inflammation (sometimes called Goiter, and sometimes leading to Thyroiditis, which can be a painful condition), Hyper or Hypothyroidism, which is too much hormone secretion or too little, respectively, and can lead to excessive weight loss or gain, depression, nervousness, fatigue, constipation, excessive bowel movements, and heavy or irregular menstrual periods, among other symptoms. 

The body doesn’t require a lot of iodine, but it’s also a matter of debate as to exactly how much. I would venture to say that it’s something that each of us need to figure out for ourselves and monitor. According to the USRDA, these are the amounts recommended BUT keep in mind that they were set ONLY to prevent goiter

  • 150 micrograms (mcg) per day for adult men and women

  • 220 mcg for pregnant women

  • 290 mcg for lactating/breastfeeding women

Again, I would say this is something you need to experiment with. If, say, you’re eating an iodine-rich diet, and you aren’t having any symptoms of hypo or hyperthyroidism, you might want to just continue doing what you’re doing or have your thyroid checked, just to see if you might want to tweak things a little by maybe taking an iodine supplement. If you’re not eating an iodine-rich diet, you may want to try a supplement and take the recommended dosage, then keep an eye on any improvements in your overall health, and getting your thyroid checked won’t hurt either!

We hope that this brings more clarity and understanding to the subjects of Iodine and the Thyroid, and that it inspires you to explore increasing your intake or finding a balance in your intake of iodine.

Renee Rubio
About me

Renee Rubio is passionate about health in all aspects. She's been keenly aware of the fact that it's not just about food and exercise, for most of her life. She wants to help teach others that there are other parts to the whole, of being healthy (and thus, knowing the true nature of happiness!). Growing up the child of an alcoholic, she knew from the beginning that substance abuse is a dead end street. As she grew older and worked through her emotional issues, growing spiritually, and dealing with weight issues (tied into her emotional issues), she finally discovered raw foods and the benefits of that type of eating. Deciding to change her diet to plant based first, in 2009, she transitioned to raw living foods in 2010. At times, she's been 100 percent raw, she's done several fasts, and adopted many of the lifestyle aspects of a raw, vegan foodist, and continues with it. She has never been healthier or happier in her life and has finally found the key to the foods that her body responds best to. She knows that she still has some ways to go, on her journey, and continues onward and upward. Her current focus is on learning more about hormones and parasite cleansing. She lives in Nevada with her soul mate and her Australian Cattle Dog fur baby. She loves being of service. One of her favorite activities is to coach others. She believes she is a natural born supporter and encourager. Among other things, she also loves to laugh, watch movies, and prepare healthy, beautiful and delicious food for her loved ones. Most of all, she loves learning, because learning never ends in this life, and it keeps things interesting :)


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