Iodine is an indispensable mineral for the process of converting food into energy (cellular metabolic process). It is an important mineral for good thyroid functioning, and the production and thyroid hormones.
Important sources for obtaining iodine:
- Iodized salt (table salt) or sea salt (see final note)
- Seafood (salmon, tuna, cod, sea bass, ling cod are all good sources of iodine).
- Kelp or brown seaweed, this is a very common marine vegetable with a high iodine content. If you eat seaweed, it is best to use seaweed that contains a uniform iodine content like the aforementioned kelp (kombu), or hijiki.
- If you take iodine supplements, you should consume between 100 and 150 micrograms a day, to equate a total consumption of 150 to 200 micrograms (or check the table below for appropriate iodine consumption by age).
- Plants and vegetables that grow in soils rich in iodine are very good sources of this nutrient. Increasing your consumption of fresh salads or vegetable juices could help prevent a deficiency for this mineral.
Deficiency or excess of dietary iodine
Iodine deficiency could be due to a lack of iodine in the soil. If this deficiency continues for a few months, this could cause goiter or hyperthyroidism. When there is no iodine, the thyroid cells and the thyroid glands increase in size (an affection known as goiter).
Iodine deficiency is more common in women than men, especially in pregnant women. Consuming a proper amount of iodine helps prevent one type of physical and mental retardation, called cretinism. This condition is not very common because it is generally difficult for iodine levels to decrease in our diets. On the other hand, an excess of dietary iodine could decrease thyroid gland functioning.
A balanced diet with iodine
In order for iodine to be well absorbed by the body, you must have a balanced diet, and consume roughly 1/4 tsp. of iodine daily. This provides 95 micrograms of iodine. Consuming seafood and fish is also a good option, as these are also rich in nutrients as well. Seafood provides a high quality dose of iodine.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends the following lists, for proper iodine consumption:
Recommended iodine consumption for babies:
- 0-6 months: 110 micrograms a day (mcg/day)
- 7-12 months: 130 mcg/day
Recommended iodine consumption for children:
- 1-3 years: 90 mcg/day
- 4-8 years: 90 mcg/day
- 9-13 years: 120 mcg/day
Recommended iodine consumption for adolescents and adults:
- Men, ages 14 and older: 150 mc/day
- Women, ages 14 and older: 150 mcg/day
The specific recommendations for proper iodine consumption depend on age, sex, and other factors. Pregnant women, for example, or those that are nursing, need greater amounts of iodine. If they do not keep an eye on this, they could suffer from complications with their pregnancy, which could cause brain damage in the fetus or the nursing child.
Iodine deficiency is higher in some countries, than in others. There are countries that exist in Europe in which a considerable part of the population is exposed to a lack of iodine. In Spain, around 20% of children suffer from some sore of deficiency with this mineral.
Sea salt and iodine
Iodine is an active mineral in sea salt, with a lot more benefits than the common table salt. This has positive effects on the thyroid gland, without provoking any of the problems caused by iodine extracted through chemical methods. Sea salt bromides contribute to calming the nerves without weakening the nervous system. This salt also contains useful substances, and catalyzing elements like gold, copper, nickel, cobalt, etc.
Sea salt (unrefined) is very helpful in treating glandular or nervous disorders caused by some deficiency. It can be used in salt water baths in the ocean, or in hot water with seaweed. You can prepare lake and sea salt poultices to cauterize and heal wounds quickly, to prevent infections, extinguish labial herpes, and to help heal the skin.