Consuming enough iodine is important for a healthy thyroid, a little butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. The thyroid is responsible for hormone regulation, metabolism, nervous system health, and more. Severe iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. It is marked by weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and hair loss.
So how much iodine do you need? It is recommended that adult men and women get 150 micrograms of iodine per day. The requirement is higher for pregnant and breastfeeding women - around 220 and 290 mcg respectively.
As our bodies do not produce iodine, the only way is to consume foods that are iodine rich. World over, including India, iodised table salt has helped reduce iodine deficiency in populations significantly.
A ¼ teaspoon of iodised table salt provides about 95 mcg of iodine.
However, remember that many popular salts, like sea salt and pink Himalayan salt, DO NOT contain iodine.
Here are 10 iodine rich foods for a healthy thyroid:
Seafood is rich in iodine as the bodies of these marine creatures soak up the mineral from seawater and it gets accumulated in their bodies. A three-ounce portion of shrimp contains about 30 mcg of iodine, the same portion of canned tuna in oil has 17 mcg while baked cod provides 99 mcg. Sea bass, haddock, and perch are also rich in iodine.
Seaweed is one of the best plant-based food sources of iodine. Kelp, Nori, Kombu and Wakame are iodine powerhouses. Kelp especially has the highest amount of iodine (approximately 2000/mcg of iodine in one tablespoon!). Too much of iodine is also not good (the upper limit for iodine is 1100 mcg a day). That’s why add small amounts of powdered or crumbled seaweed to soups, stews, salads, or pasta dishes.
Cottage cheese is one of the best sources of iodine. One cup of cottage cheese provides 65 mcg, while one ounce of cheddar cheese provides about 12 mcg of iodine; you can also opt for Mozzarella.
One of the most reliable and easiest ways to get iodine in your diet would be through egg yolks. A large egg has 24 mcg of iodine. Many of us tend to order egg whites to cut back on cholesterol, but remember, it's the yellow yolk that has the iodine.
Prunes are plums that have been dried. Prunes are a good vegetarian or vegan source of iodine. Five dried prunes provide 13 mcg of iodine, or about 9% of the daily requirement.
Strawberries and Cranberries are rich sources of iodine. Organic strawberry is considered as iodine rich fruit as it is packed with 10% of the daily iodine requirement.
About 1 cup of fresh organic strawberries contain around 13 mcg of iodine. Cranberries especially those grown close to the sea like Cape Cod cranberries, contain abundant amounts of iodine and around 100 grams of cranberries can provide 400 mcg of iodine.
6. Baked Potatoes
Baked potatoes are one of the highest vegetarian sources of iodine - they are not only rich in iodine but also low in calories. You can get up to 60 mcg of iodine if you eat one medium-sized baked potato. Studies indicate that even after cooking, potato dishes can provide between 33.3 per cent to 52.7 per cent of your daily recommended intake. Potatoes are usually consumed by boiling and mashing, but if you are consuming potatoes for iodine, it is recommended that you bake them. Also, consider having it with the peel on and choose an organic variety preferably.
While it’s a well-known probiotic, yoghurt is a good source of iodine as well. One cup of low-fat plain yogurt contains approximately 75 mcg of iodine, which is enough to meet nearly half of your daily needs. Milk is another good source. Every 200 ml of milk would have close to 50 to 100 mcg of iodine. The cattle feed, fodder and grass fed to cows transfer iodine to their milk. However, if you are looking for iodine, don't choose organic dairy foods. Organic milk has a lower concentration of iodine because of what the cows are fed, according to a study.
8. White bread
White bread is mostly consumed in Western countries as a primary source of carbohydrates. It is also one of the primary sources of iodine, provided the manufacturer has used potassium iodate or calcium iodate as a dough conditioner. Whole-wheat bread made with iodate dough conditioner, 1 slice has about 198 mcg while white bread, made with iodate dough conditioner, 1 slice has 185 mcg. Pasta is not a source of iodine unless it is prepared in water containing iodised salt because it absorbs some of the iodine.
Beans such as Lima Beans, Navy Beans and Green Beans are rich food sources of iodine. Just ½ cup of these beans are said to contain about 32 mcg of iodine.
Brazil nuts, macadamia and hazelnuts are all particularly high in selenium, which helps the thyroid function properly. With Brazil nuts, you only need to eat one or two; with other nuts, a small handful is enough to get your daily requirement - keep an eye on portion size, as nuts are also very high fat.
Must-read related stories: