Boost Dietary Iodine Intake
A mineral that the body requires daily is iodine. It is considered an essential mineral because the body does not manufacture it, and we need to rely on dietary iodine food sources to meet the body’s requirement.
The thyroid gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones which control many of the body’s functions. Fortunately an iodine deficiency is rare in our country but worldwide it is a global health concern. It is the leading cause of preventable brain damage to newborns and infants due to an insufficient intake of iodine by the mothers and infants.
There are individuals who are at greater risk for having an insufficient iodine intake:
- Not using iodized table salt
- Pregnant women
- Vegans or vegetarians who do not eat fish, dairy or eggs
These are the daily recommendations for iodine intake set by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Institute of Medicine:
- 18 years+: 150 micrograms
- Pregnancy: 220 micrograms
- Lactation: 290 micrograms
The best sources of iodine include:
- Saltwater fish, like cod, 3 ounces: 158 mcg
- Seaweed, dried, 2 Tbsp: 116 mcg
- Dairy: 1 cup skim milk: 85 mcg
- Iodized salt, ¼ teaspoon: 76 mcg
- Egg, 1 medium: 26 mcg
Iodine is also found in breast milk and infant formulas. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that women who are planning a pregnancy, are pregnant or nursing take a vitamin-mineral supplement that contains at least 150 mcg of iodine, and to use iodized salt. The label has to be checked because not all prenatal supplements contain iodine.
Although dairy products naturally have iodine, plant-based milk substitutes like soy, oat and almond milk do not. Also, specialty salts like sea salt and pink salt are not iodized. Today iodine deficiency is not a problem in our country unlike in the early 1900s. The addition of iodine to table salt really helped to eradicate thyroid gland enlargement which is known as goiter; it was much more prevalent in the early 20th century due to iodine deficiency.