Key Facts About Iodine Everyone Should Be Aware Of

Iodine is crucial for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and various other functions. A deficiency in adults can lead to mental fog and impaired cognitive abilities. The solution? Simply eating the right foods can help. In this article, we present a list of iodine-rich foods. Keep reading to discover them!

Why Is Iodine Essential?

To understand this, we need to examine the thyroid gland, located at the front of the neck beneath the voice box. This organ is crucial for metabolism, growth, and development. It accomplishes this by releasing thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) into the bloodstream.

The thyroid gland requires sufficient iodine to function optimally. An iodine deficiency can result in an underactive thyroid, leading to inadequate hormone production and various negative effects. Prolonged iodine deficiency causes the thyroid gland to enlarge in an effort to compensate, resulting in a condition known as goiter, which is characterized by an abnormally swollen neck.

Which Foods Are High in Iodine?

Crab

A 1/2 cup serving of crab contains 90 mcg of iodine, meeting 60% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Crabs, known for their sweet and succulent meat, are a seafood delicacy rich in iodine and can be included in your diet.

In addition to iodine, crabs are high in protein, which supports muscle development and repair and can aid in healthy weight management. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, which may enhance cognition and overall brain function. When consumed regularly and in moderation, crabs can contribute to improved health and well-being as part of a balanced lifestyle.

Butter Beans

½ cup of boiled lima beans provides 8 mcg of iodine, fulfilling 5% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Among legumes, lima beans have the highest iron content, which boosts immunity and aids in blood production.

The fiber in lima beans helps you feel full, which can support weight loss. This fiber may also help reduce bad cholesterol levels, lowering the risk of heart disease.

Prunes

5 dried prunes provide 13 mcg of iodine, fulfilling 9% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Prunes are also a good source of energy due to their simple sugars. Their high fiber, fructose, and sorbitol content may prevent blood sugar spikes. Additionally, prunes contain phenolic compounds that can delay glucose absorption and help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Corn

A 1/2 cup serving of corn provides 14 mcg of iodine, meeting 9% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Corn is not only a tasty snack but also highly nutritious. In a study, corn was found to be the most nutritious among various grains, boasting the highest phenolic content and demonstrating the strongest antioxidant activity.

Tuna

One serving of canned tuna provides 17 mcg of iodine, fulfilling 11% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Tuna is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health and can help prevent heart disease. These fatty acids also support brain health and may aid in preventing brain-related conditions such as depression.

While fish low in fat typically have higher iodine content, tuna, being a fattier fish, contains less iodine compared to cod.

Eggs

One large egg contains 24 mcg of iodine, providing 16% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Eggs are highly nutritious and have been associated with improved cardio-metabolic health in healthy populations. Regular consumption of eggs has also been linked to increased levels of good cholesterol.

Research indicates that the majority of iodine in eggs is concentrated in the yolk.

Macaroni

One cup of boiled and enriched macaroni contains 27 mcg of iodine, fulfilling 18% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

This durum wheat pasta can also provide additional benefits. Macaroni made from whole wheat contains fiber, which helps reduce bad cholesterol levels and stabilize blood sugar.

Many brands of macaroni are also enriched with iron, which supports immune function and facilitates oxygen transport in the body.

Shrimp

Three ounces of shrimp provide 35 mcg of iodine, supplying 23% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Shrimp is a popular seafood choice that is also rich in iodine, particularly in the shell. It’s beneficial to consume shrimp with the shell to maximize iodine intake.

Additionally, shrimp contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant responsible for its red coloration. Astaxanthin effectively scavenges free radicals and has been shown to be more effective than beta-carotene in this regard. Dietary supplementation with astaxanthin may help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Iodized Salt

1.5 grams of iodized salt contains 71 mcg of iodine, providing 47% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Since around 1920, countries worldwide have adopted salt iodization as a strategy to combat iodine deficiency, significantly reducing its prevalence (though challenges remain). Today, approximately 90% of the US population has access to iodized salt. Salt iodization is widely recognized as an effective method to address iodine deficiency in populations.

The upper limit for iodine intake is 1,100 mcg per day, roughly equivalent to about four teaspoons (23 grams) of iodized table salt. However, relying too heavily on salt for your daily iodine intake is not recommended.

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Milk

One cup of milk contains 56 mcg of iodine, providing 37% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Milk is a significant source of iodine in the American diet. A study conducted on 18 brands of milk sold in the Boston area found that each brand contained at least 88 mcg of iodine per 8-ounce serving. In some countries, dairy cattle are fed iodine-rich feed to ensure that dairy products contain sufficient iodine levels.

Iodine is also naturally present in breast milk, providing infants with the iodine necessary for neurological development.

Cod

Three ounces of cod provides 99 mcg of iodine, fulfilling 66% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Cod is a lean fish with low fat and calorie content, yet it is notably high in iodine. The iodine content in cod can vary depending on the region where the fish is caught.

Cod liver is recognized for its omega-3 fatty acid content. While not as rich in omega-3s as salmon or mackerel, studies indicate that cod liver can also contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Seaweed

1 gram of seaweed can contain anywhere from 16 to 2,984 mcg of iodine, providing 11% to 1,989% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for this nutrient.

Research indicates that supplementing with seaweed can significantly improve iodine levels, especially in iodine-deficient women. After supplementation, there was an increase in serum concentrations of thyroid hormones. Seaweed is also a flavorful food that can be consumed whole to combat iodine deficiency.

Japanese individuals consume the highest amount of iodine in the world through seaweed. Studies suggest that this may contribute to their longer life expectancy and lower rates of certain types of cancer.

Various types of iodine-rich seaweed include Nori, Kombu Kelp, and Wakame.

Bottom Line

Iodine is crucial for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which is vital for growth and metabolism. Since our bodies cannot produce this essential trace mineral, it’s important to include iodine-rich foods like seaweed, cod, milk, iodized salt, shellfish, macaroni, eggs, prunes, and lima beans in your diet to prevent iodine deficiency.

Those who don’t consume iodized salt are at higher risk of deficiency, which can lead to symptoms such as hair loss, nausea, dry skin, poor memory, and a swollen neck. Pregnant women require higher daily iodine intake to prevent complications during childbirth.

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