The subject of iodine came up last week in my Facebook Group, so I thought it might be a good idea to explain a very simple way to make sure you are getting enough iodine on a plant-based diet.
Iodine is one of those essential minerals our bodies cannot make, so we have to get enough in our diet for proper thyroid function. That's why it was added to table salt back in the early 1920s.
But many of us are trying to cut back on sodium to improve our blood pressure, and some people are completely SOS (salt, oil & sugar) free.
So now what do we do?
As Dr. Michael Greger explains in the video, iodine doesn't have to come from salt, and it doesn't have to be a lot, or even every day as it is stored in the thyroid.
But we do have to have some Iodine - about 150mg/day, and more if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
In my former life as a SAD carnivore, I'm sure I got tons of iodine from all the tuna salad sandwiches on white bread I enjoyed, along with all the milk, dairy, & eggs too.
But as a vegan, I no longer consume any of that, and if I happen to be salt-free too - what are my options?
First, Get Tested
If you suspect you are deficient, the only way to know for sure is to get checked by your primary care physician. A simple test will give them all the information they need.
One of the most common results of low iodine is that your thyroid can’t make enough thyroid hormone, a condition called hypothyroidism. This might inflame the gland and form a weird-looking lump on your throat called a goiter.
It could also thin your hair, dry your skin, and make you feel cold, tired, constipated, and depressed and you might gain weight more easily.
Again, and I can't stress this enough - get your iodine levels tested before you do anything, especially before stocking up on iodine supplements as too much can also be a problem, as in causing hyperthyroidism.
Once you know your exact numbers, you're in a better position to decide what to do.
Pills or Food
If your Iodine numbers are indeed too low, then you have to decide how you want to treat it. Ask your doctor for advice. They will probably recommend an Iodine Supplement.
But so you know, you CAN get iodine from food too, and not just Iodized Salt. One of the easiest ways is just to eat more seaweed.
If you like my Vegan Sushi Rolls, you're in luck as those Nori sheets have iodine.
In fact, ANY seaweed or sea vegetable is going to be a great source of iodine.
One gram of dried nori seaweed contains about 24 mcg of iodine. Wakame is another popular choice and it contains about 42 micrograms of Iodine per gram. And then there is Kombu (or kelp).
Be very careful with kelp.
Just 1 single gram of kelp delivers a whopping 1,820 micrograms of iodine. That's a bit much and you certainly don't want to overdo it.
My personal favorite is Dulse which has been called "The Bacon of the Sea". It usually comes in flake form and just one teaspoon (about 1.5 g) contains about 150 mg of iodine, pretty darn close to your minimum daily requirement.
And you can sprinkle a teaspoon of Dulse in or on just about anything.
Put it in your smoothie, sprinkle it on your salad, and stir it into your stir fry. One teaspoon is not that much to hide if you really don't enjoy the taste - but you'll have peace of mind knowing you're getting your iodine for the day.
You can find dried seaweed in some grocery stores, specifically Whole Foods. But here are some of my Amazon Affiliate Links in case you can't. As an affiliate, I do earn from qualified purchases but at no extra cost to you.
Here is an excellent video on the subject from Dr. Michael Greger.
I hope this helps.
The main thing I want to stress to you is - if you are uncertain... get checked.
Especially before you take some random advice off of a Facebook Group and start taking tons of pills you may not need or that may harm you.
If you choose to take supplements over the seaweed, please take the amount recommended by your healthcare professional.
I want you to be healthy AND safe.