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