For those who have dwelled into a vegan or a plant-based diet lifestyle, the lack of iodine can be a cause of worry. A big chunk of the world population- about 1/3rd– is suffering from iodine deficiency. For this exact reason, it has become a problem that needs to be looked into.
Do You Need Iodine? Can You Do Without?
The thyroid gland, that is resting in your throat creates the thyroid hormones-triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4)-which play an important role in the controlling of basal metabolic rate and oxygen consumption of cells. The above mentioned critically important hormones require iodine to be created. The thyroid gland combines iodine with amino acid tyrosine, to produce thyroid hormones.
What Happens If Iodine Levels Drop?
If you don’t have enough amount of iodine in your system, your thyroid hormone levels will drop. This drop in the thyroid hormone levels causes the pituitary gland to release what is called thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)- this is done to bring the body back to balance.
If this continues on for long enough, then you will start to experience symptoms of hypothyroidism. The symptoms include:
- Bloating and gas
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Hair loss
- Increased levels of cholesterol
- Weakened immune response
- Gain in weight
- Behavior and mood changes
If there are low levels of iodine during a pregnancy term, then there is a risk of severe developmental impairment, which is called cretinism. There is a relationship between low levels of iodine and reduced thyroid hormones which may increase the risk of miscarriage.
What Are The Best Food Sources For Iodine?
Since the need for iodine in your diet is understood, we shall take a look at the foodstuffs that are iodine-rich.
Iodized salt is the first thing that you want to include in your diet when you have a healthy iodine intake in mind. Table salt is your best friend.
Some of the other sources of iodine would have to be animal foods such as fish, shellfish, eggs and cow’s milk. Salt is not present naturally in cow’s milk, but cows are fed supplements and a diet that contains minerals.
However, for some who is strictly plant-based, the sources that are rich in iodine include:
- Fruits and veggies that are cultivated in iodine-rich soil
- Seaweed and water based nuts
- Potatoes with peels
- Navy beans
Having all of these plant-based foods on your plate are a necessity, to ensure the healthy functioning of your body!