Iodine Deficiency Has Become an "Epidemic" According to Researchers

Iodine: a mineral deficiency:

In my previous blogs I've talked about the benefits of various minerals and the foods you can eat to keep a healthy body.

Another one of these highly essential minerals is Iodine, and according to researchers; there is an epidemic in the United Kingdom because we are massively Iodine deficient - Read the BBC News report.

What is Iodine?

Iodine is a trace mineral required for the synthesis of thyroid hormones and functioning of the thyroid glands. Iodine, when combined with amino acid, produces thyroid hormones that play a major role in all the physiological functions. Thyroxine T4 and triiodothyronine T3, the two thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism in every cell of the body. This is required for the development of skeletal and nervous system.

Iodine also plays a major role in preventing fibrocystic breast diseases, a condition that causes swelling of the breast tissues. Iodine modulates the effect of the hormone estrogen in the breast tissue, thereby decreasing the swelling. Besides breast fibrocystic diseases, iodine can also prevent health conditions like cognitive impairment, cretinism, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, multiple miscarriages.

Our body contains 20 to 30 milligrams of iodine, which is stored in the thyroid gland, just below the voice box. Some amounts of iodine are also found in the lactating mammary glands, salivary glands, stomach lining and blood.

Deficiency of Iodine

A deficiency in iodine can have a terrible impact on the body. The deficiency occurs due to insufficient consumption of iodine rich foods. Low levels of iodine in the body impair the functioning of the immune system and can even lead to miscarriage in extreme cases. Iodine deficiency in the body can also lead to goiter or thyroid enlargement. It leads to the enlargement of the thyroid due to the overstimulation of the thyroid glands by the thyroid hormones. Severe iodine deficiency in pregnant women can lead to cretinism, a condition that leads to the failure of the thyroid gland, stunted physical growth, deafness and spasticity in the child. These conditions can be treated with iodine supplements if diagnosed in the initial stages.

Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency

Goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland


Weight gain


High cholesterol


Rapid heart beat

Appetite fluctuations

Recommended Daily Allowance of Iodine:

In our entire lifetime, we need less than one teaspoon of iodine for proper health and development. Since the body cannot store iodine, you need to eat a little bit of it every day. Conversely, excess iodine supplements can cause burning in the mouth, weak pulse, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and even coma in extreme cases. Excess consumption of iodine can also inhibit the synthesis of thyroid hormones, leading to hyperthyroidism, thyroid papillary cancer and iodermia. Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (TUL) of iodine: See National Institute of Health - Office of Dietary Supplements.

How to get more Iodine in the diet

Though iodine supplements – and multivitamin supplements containing iodine – are available, you can actually meet your daily iodine needs by eating a well-balanced diet that includes iodine-rich foods.

1. Sea Salt

Whilst Iodized salt is the main source of iodine in our diet. Iodized salt consists of table salt combined with minuscule amounts of iodine containing salts, sea salt often undergoes minimal processing and contains small amounts of magnesium, potassium and calcium. Though it can be difficult to determine the exact amount of iodine in sea salt because it isn't included on nutrition facts labels. Eating too much of any kind of salt, including sea salt, can increase your blood pressure and your risk for heart disease. Read the British Heart Foundation recommended salt intake.

2. Sea Vegetables

Sea vegetables contain excellent sources of iodine. Kelp contains the highest amount of iodine than any other food on this planet. One serving of kelp contains around 2000 micrograms of iodine while one tablespoon of arame contains 730 micrograms of iodine. Wakame is another excellent source of iodine with one tablespoon providing 80 micrograms of iodine.

3. Dried Seaweed

Dried seaweed is the best source of iodine. A quarter serving of dried seaweed provides a whopping 4500 micrograms of iodine. This is more than 3000% of the daily value of iodine. Make sure you consume seaweed in small portions to gain all the benefits.

4. Dried Prunes

Consuming five dried prunes a day can provide you with fiber, boron, vitamins, mineral and 13 micrograms of iodine. Dried prunes are a calorie dense food, and hence should be consumed in moderation.

5. Bananas

Banana is an excellent energy boosting fruit. It contains a high potassium content that energizes you in a jiffy. However, not many are aware of the iodine content in bananas. A medium sized banana provides 3 micrograms of iodine, amounting to 2% of the daily value.

6. Strawberries

Strawberries are a nutrient dense fruit that provides the body with a plethora of essential vitamins and minerals. This delicious fruit is a surprising source of iodine as well. A cup serving of iodine contains 13 micrograms of iodine, around 10% of what an average person needs in a day.

7. Rhubarb

Rhubarb has been used since the 3rd century BC for its medicinal properties. It is one of the best sources of iodine. In addition, it also provides calcium, manganese, copper, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Its roots contain anthraquinone, a stimulant laxative used for relieving constipation.

8. Watercress

Watercress is one of the best sources of iodine for the vegans. In fact, its high iodine content gives it a nutritional breakaway value from other cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are also known for their anti-cancer effects. The anti-cancer benefits of watercress arise from the high levels of antioxidants present in it. Watercress also provides a wide range of vitamins and other nutrients. You can use this versatile vegetable in green salad, pasta or soups for a subtle peppery flavor.

Other Iodine sources

Several other foods are abundant sources of iodine including sesame seeds, turnips, prunes, swiss chard, mushrooms, sea moss and bladderwrack.


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