Medical Articles

Iodine On A Vegan Diet

Studies have shown that many vegans suffer from low iodine levels. Thus it is important we learn some of the basics about this essential mineral.

What Is Iodine?

Iodine is an essential trace mineral, required by the body for the synthesis of thyroid hormones such as thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

How Much Iodine Do We Need

The recommended daily allowance(RDA) for iodine is 150 micrograms per day.

Symptoms Of Iodine Deficiency

Symptoms of iodine deficiency include enlargement of the thyroid gland which is known as goiter, hair loss, stunted growth in children, hypothyroidism, depression, cold intolerance, dry skin and hair, hoarseness of the voice, weight gain, constipation, muscle cramps, fatigue and concentration problems are some of the main symptoms of iodine deficiency.

The iodine requirement during pregnancy is increased, in order to provide the needs of the fetus and to compensate for the increased loss of iodine in the urine due to increased renal clearance. The recommended daily intake(RDI) during pregnancy is 250ug daily. Those who wish to breastfeed also have increased iodine needs.

Vegan Iodine Sources

If you are lucky you may get a small amount of iodine from fruits, vegetables and grains but this all depends how rich the soil is that they were grown in. UK soil has been shown to be very low in iodine. The best vegan source of the essential mineral iodine has to be seaweeds. Seaweeds may not be to everyone's taste but they pack a whole host of great health benefits such as rich source of minerals(such as iodine), good source of vitamins such as A, B complex, C and folic acid, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anti-viral, stimulate the immune system, anticoagulant, rich in fibre to feed your good bacteria and antioxidant properties are just some of the benefits from eating seaweed on a regular basis.

There are many different types of seaweed all with different nutritional content and taste. Some examples of seaweeds are kelp, dulse, wakame, arame and nori. The easiest seaweed to consume in my opinion is dulse, due to its mild taste and delicate nature. Nori is another but is the lowest iodine containing seaweed. Nori sheets can be used to make vegan mock sushi with vegetables and grains.

Many worry about the possible contamination of heavy metals in seaweed. Most reputable brands screen/test there seaweed to ensure they contain acceptable amounts of heavy metals. Also the algins which are contained in seaweeds bind and render the metals useless to be excreted by the body. In fact seaweeds are one of the best tools to deal with heavy metal toxicity due to there algin content.

Iodized salt is often recommended as a way to meet your daily iodine needs but in my opinion it is not a healthy option and you would be far better off consuming seaweed such as above or taking an seaweed based supplement such as kelp to meet your needs.

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