Iodine and Why You Need It

salad with dried seaweed sprinkled on top

From its discovery in 1811 up to 2020, I believe Iodine is a seriously underrated supplement.

Some of you may remember it as one of the elements on the Element table, which we learned in Chemistry class. But you may not know that this is a critically important nutrient for our body. 

scientist conducting chemical experiment

Iodine is present in seawater, but sparingly, as the iodide ion. It is a mineral used by the thyroid gland to make and regulate thyroid hormones that control many functions in the body, including your physical growth and development. It isn’t naturally produced in your body, so you need to ingest it through food or supplements. Iodine helps synthesize T3 and T4, two important thyroid hormones that play a vital role in your early growth and development, specifically your organs and brain.

Not having enough Iodine is known as Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD). This iodine deficiency can cause uncomfortable and even severe symptoms that include swelling in the neck, pregnancy-related issues, weight gain, and learning difficulties. Most people affected live in developing countries like Africa, Asia, and Latin America, but many countries in Europe are also vulnerable. This is due to depleted soil conditions and poor diet. These deficiencies have significantly improved due to the addition of iodine in table salt starting in the 1920s. Iodized table salt is not the best solution, but read on to learn more and find out what else you can supplement to get your daily dose!

salt on a grey table

A healthy human body contains 15-20mg of iodine, about 70-80% of that being present in the thyroid gland. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that helps convert calories and oxygen into energy. It requires iodine to work properly. Iodine and tyrosine tell your thyroid how much T3 and T4 to produce. For those having trouble losing weight or gaining weight, it is important to address the thyroid.

The thyroid plays a huge role in a healthy metabolism; if this is neglected, you could end up with something called Thyroiditis, which is an inflammation of the thyroid that may be associated with abnormal thyroid function (especially hyperthyroidism). This inflammation can cause the thyroid’s cells to die, meaning the thyroid is unable to produce enough hormones to maintain the body’s normal metabolism.

Who is most likely to have an iodine deficiency?

It’s hard to pinpoint those who will be affected, but it’s usually those with low thyroid (hypothyroidism), those who have a family history of thyroid disease, and those who are pregnant or were pregnant in the last 6 months. Hypothyroidism affects about 4.6% of the U.S. population ages 12 and older. This translates to about 5 people out of every 100. For those who are pregnant, it is important to supplement with Iodine to prevent brain damage in your newborn. That includes getting your infant on an iodine supplement if recommended by your doctor. Thyroid medicines can help prevent problems and are safe to take during pregnancy.

What are some good food sources that can naturally boost my iodine intake?

In order from most to least iodine: seaweed, cod, plain yogurt, shrimp, egg, tuna, and dried prunes. Seaweed is the CHAMP of iodine, with some varieties containing nearly 2,000% of the daily value in one gram! Some seaweed varieties include Kombu Kelp, Wakame, and Nori. These can be eaten in soup, wrapped around sushi, or straight out of the package in sheet form. This low-calorie, high-antioxidant food is available worldwide, but harder to find in some regions.

cod on a plate with salad and fish eggs.

Notice how some great sources of iodine are found in animal products; this is why researchers say that it is common to be iodine-deficient if you are vegan or vegetarian. Make sure you are supplementing with the vegetable-based food or supplementing with a healthy iodine supplement. When looking for a supplement, you want to find a Potassium Iodide, as this is the easiest source to convert into energy. Our NutraChamps Iodine Drops are a great option. We were ranked as one of the best iodine supplements on  “Health Cares”, a great resource for health blogs and supplement rankings! This bottle will last you a long time, since you only need 2 drops a day in your water, or taken sublingually. My personal recommendation is to always get your vitamins and minerals from natural food sources, and if that is not possible, then try a supplement. 

Nutrachamps iodine

Don’t overdo it!

Although Iodine is necessary to keep our thyroid functioning properly, it’s important to pay attention to how much you ingest. Having too much iodine could have the same negative effects as those that do not consume enough! That is detrimental to your health and a waste of your hard-earned money.

According to the Institute of Medicine, here are the recommended dietary allowances for iodine:

  • 1 to 8 years old: 90 micrograms
  • 9 to 13 years old: 120 micrograms
  • 14 years and older: 150 micrograms
  • Pregnant: 220 micrograms
  • Lactating: 290 micrograms

Whether you’re getting your daily intake from food or a supplement, making sure you’re getting the right amount is key! I know it’s tough to keep track of all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. This is likely why many people choose a multi-vitamin, just to be safe. Whatever your preference, you can find a way to get iodine into your diet. Let me know what you end up trying and what did or didn’t work for you.

Chelsea Pineiro

Chelsea has been active most of her life, which led her to become a Personal Trainer and Yoga Instructor for the past 7 years. Health and Fitness is not solely dependent on movement, though, and with that understanding, she addresses her client’s other needs, such as diet, mindfulness, and stress management. Having a past of disordered eating and over-exercising, she understands the trials and tribulations many clients go through when transitioning from a strict diet mindset to moderation.

When she is not training clients or teaching Yoga, she is finding new activities that keep her mind and body active, such as rock climbing, hiking, listening to podcasts, or playing Board Games with friends. She is constantly working towards: Finding natural solutions to live as long as possible, inclusive Yoga for all body types, and aiming to find mindfulness in everything she does.

Alexia Palmeri

Alexia Palmeri is a 28-year-old personal development enthusiast! She looks at life experiences as an opportunity to always learn and grow. Alexia is also a broadcast journalism graduate with a passion and knack for communications and media. She is always on the lookout for new trends on social media and keeps up to date with what's happening in the world. In her free time, Alexia enjoys socializing with family and loved ones, being in nature, cooking nourishing meals, and discovering new places to dine and adventure!

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