Iodine is a mineral that we only find in our diet, therefore, including foods with iodine will help us to have optimal levels and therefore, have a necessary contribution to thyroid hormones.
Iodine is a mineral that we can only obtain through diet. Its main function is focused on how necessary it is for the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones. Taking into account that this gland is one of the control centers of our organism and regulates our metabolic activity, it is worth asking whether the diet we follow has a sufficient supply of foods with iodine to cover our needs.
Importance of Iodine For the Thyroid Gland
An insufficient intake of foods with iodine will be preceded by a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones, and in turn will affect the processes that they activate and regulate, such as energy metabolism, proteins, fats, the production of body heat, as well as the maturation of tissues, among many others.
The deficiency of iodine in the daily diet can cause goiter and disorders of the thyroid gland. Goiter is an increase in the size of the thyroid gland produced by the overexertion that has to be made to compensate for the lack of this micronutrient in the diet. And although today it is rare, for several decades endemic goiter was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) a public health problem that affected different areas of the planet with iodine deficiency. This problem was solved with the iodization of table salt. Despite everything, in some mountain areas, far from the sea, there is still a part of the population with a diet deficient in iodine due to the low contribution of the cultivated land.
On the other hand, there are foods of plant origin that contain glucosinolates, thiocyanates, and isothiocyanates, compounds that block the uptake of iodine by thyroid cells and prevent its use. They are called goitrogenic foods and are mainly: cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, …), turnip, sweet potato, peanut, or yucca. One way to inactivate them is through cooking or heating. If a diet deficient in foods with iodine is added a regular consumption and in the quantity of this type of compounds, the problem can be accentuated.
The iodine deficiency in the diet is especially delicate in the case of pregnant women and children. During pregnancy, it affects the proper development of the baby and can cause permanent damage to the fetus. In children, it is associated with intellectual and growth retardation, and cognitive alterations. Therefore, following a diet rich in foods with iodine is important.
What are the iodine needs?
The iodine requirements will vary depending on age, as well as the period of pregnancy and lactation:
- Children 1 to 8 years: 90 micrograms.
- Children 9 to 13 years: 120 micrograms.
- Adults and adolescents: 150 micrograms.
- Pregnant women: 220 micrograms.
- Lactating women: 290 micrograms.
Foods With Iodine
Iodine is found naturally in the soil and the sea, being marine foods (fish, shellfish, algae) the ones that contribute the greatest amount.
- The saltwater fish contain from 30 to 300 micrograms per 100 grams of food, depending on the type of fish.
- With regard to plant foods, the content depends on the iodine richness of the soil where they have been grown, so it is difficult to provide exact values.
- Other foods with iodine through which we can obtain this micronutrient, but in smaller quantities, are dairy and eggs, although again they will be determined by the iodine content of the diet of the animal from which they come.
- The iodized salt has been how to ensure iodine intake in the population making it one of the best-known sources for all. By consuming it, adequate daily amounts of this mineral can be maintained.