If you know a bit about my story, then you know that I went pescatarian many years ago just out of high school. I had continued to eat fish and seafood, but eliminated other meats. Being very young, I wan't too concerned with proper nutrition, and I just didn't think twice about it. It was several years later that I eliminated seafood and then dairy, eggs, and honey soon followed. Now vegan, and following a whole food, plant based lifestyle, I have come to learn that proper nutrition is vital. Funny, isn't it? Looking back on how young, care free, and a bit naive I was, I am able to now put what I have learned in to practice. In a previous blog, I spoke about the two different types of iron and proper absorption. This week, it's all about iodine.
What is iodine and where does it come from?
Iodine is another one of those important minerals that we can easily be depleted in if we aren't careful about our food choices. Iodine is a trace mineral that is essential for proper thyroid function. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the front of the neck where it takes iodine and converts it into the thyroid hormones T4 and T3. The thyroid is responsible for our metabolic rate and energy, and without it functioning properly, we can run into problems such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Idoine is found in seafood and in many dairy products including milk, cheese, yogurt and butter. In order to avoid mastitis in cows, and inflammation in the udder, the cow's teets are dipped in an iodine solution, therefore, by default, bringing iodine in to dairy milk.
Of course there is iodized salt that contains iodine, too, as well as seafood. But what if you are avoiding all of that sodium intake, and now seafood, and dairy?
If I am not eating seafood or dairy, how can I get my iodine?
You can get your essential iodine from sea vegetables like laver, alaria, or dulse. Dulse are flakes that can be sprinkled on to your food. Kelp also contains iodine, but it actually contains too much iodine, which is not beneficial, and so it should be heeded with caution. It is also recommended to avoid hijiki or hiziki which contains high levels of arsenic. But if you are a fan of sushi, then incorporating iodine in to your diet shouldn't be that difficult by using nori sheets.
What is recommended?
Iodine intake of 150 mcg/ day for adults is recommended.
When going vegan and adopting a plant based lifestyle, it can be challenging and overwhelming if you are not versed in your food choices. With an abundance of food to choose from, getting in our recommended daily intake of nutients is easy.
Have a great week!