IODINE: Are you getting enough of this important mineral?
What is iodine?
Iodine is a nutrient that is vital for optimum growth and development. It is found in small amounts most foods as naturally occurring iodine. The human body cannot make its own iodine and so we need to get it from the food we eat.
Why do we need it?
Iodine is important for making thyroid hormones. These are chemical messengers made in the thyroid gland that support normal growth and development in children and also help maintain the body’s metabolic rate. As iodine is essential for brain development, it is particularly important that unborn babies, infants and young children have enough iodine. It is important to maintain adequate iodine levels in our body as low iodine levels in our diet may lead to health issues often referred to as iodine deficiency disorders. This might include poor growth and development in infants and children, thyroid diseases and goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck).
How much iodine is recommended?
It is recommended that the Australian adult consumes around 150 micrograms (~ 2 pieces of sushi) of iodine every day. The requirements are higher for pregnant and breastfeeding women and lower for children, infants and toddlers.
Where can I get my sources of iodine?
Foods that are excellent sources of iodine include:
Seafood – such as oysters, salmon, seaweed, kelp even sushi.
Reduced or low-fat milk and milk products
It is generally recommended that individuals need to reduce their salt intakes, however iodised salt will provide some iodine in your diet, if used instead of non-iodised salt in cooking or at the table. Most rock or sea salts sold in NZ and Australia contain very little iodine, unless specified otherwise on the label.
TAKE HOME MESSAGES:
Cook with iodised salt wherever possible.
Increase consumption of low fat dairy options such as milk and yoghurts.
Try and eat more seafood to increase iodine intake.
Most seaweeds, such as kelp, contain iodine. While seaweed may not seem like an appetising option try mixing it in casseroles or soups