7 foods containing iodine recommended by a dietitian

LLocated at the base of the neck, the small but powerful thyroid gland plays a major role in many body functions, including (but not limited to) metabolism, growth and development. Yet, according to the American Thyroid Association, over 12% of the US population will develop thyroid disease in their lifetime, with women up to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems. Needless to say, we all have a strong incentive to keep our thyroids in peak condition – and one way to do that is to get enough iodine in our diet.

Before we dive into the best foods containing iodine that help support thyroid function, let’s first take a closer look at what exactly iodine is, how it benefits your health, and how much you have. need daily.

What is iodine?

“Iodine is a trace element present in certain foods and added to others. It is also available as a dietary supplement,” explains Nisha Jayani, MDa certified endocrinologist with Paloma Health. Iodine does not occur naturally in the body, which means that it is essential that we obtain it through food sources.

“Iodine is needed by the thyroid gland to produce the thyroid hormones T4 and T3,” says Dr. Jayani. “The pituitary gland in the brain releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) when it senses that the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 are low. Cells in the thyroid gland produce T4 and T3 by combining iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. Once T4 and T3 are created, these hormones are distributed throughout the body to regulate metabolism,” as well as to support other vital functions, as noted above.

Again, iodine is a key player when it comes to thyroid health. Jayani explains that the cells of the thyroid gland are the only cells in the whole body that absorb this nutrient. “Without iodine, the thyroid gland cannot produce T4 and T3,” she repeats — and a lack of these hormones can ultimately lead to hypothyroidism (also called underactive thyroid). Whereas symptoms of hypothyroidism may vary from person to person, the most common being fatigue, lethargy, constipation, feeling cold and dry skin.

How much iodine do you need?

“The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine is about 150 mcg for adult men and women, and about 100 mcg more for pregnant and breastfeeding women,” shares Jennifer Maeng, MS, RD, LD, CDN, CNSCdietician and founder of Chelsea Nutrition.

To get you closer to this RDA to support thyroid function – and therefore your mood, energy levels, metabolism, etc. – consider stocking up on Maeng’s approved list of iodine-rich foods below. Also keep in mind that, according to the National Institutes for Health, the the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for iodine is 1,100 mcg for all adults.

The best foods with iodine, according to the recommendations of a dietitian

1. Algae

While seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, Maeng notes that the exact amount of this all-important mineral varies depending on the type or specialty of seaweed you’re cooking with. Kombu kelp, which she says “is most commonly used to make Japanese soups,” contains the highest amount of iodine at nearly 3,000 mcg per gram. Keep in mind this is well above the RDA for iodine.

2. Cod

“Cod contains between 65 and 100 mcg of iodine per three ounces,” says Maeng. Although she explains that the iodine content of cod varies depending on a range of factors, including the region it was caught in, whether the fish was wild-caught or farmed, and its fat content, cod remains a great option for filling up on this essential mineral (like other types of lean fish and seafood).

3. Dairy products

You’re in luck if you start your morning with a probiotic-rich yogurt (or if you’re still working your night cheese a la Liz Lemon), because Maeng mentions that dairy products are the biggest source of iodine in the diet. standard american. That said, the total iodine content of dairy products varies between different food sources and their respective fat content. “Per cup, milk can contain between 60 and 115 percent of the RDA for iodine, while plain yogurt contains about 50 percent,” Maeng explains. From there, she says the iodine content of cheese varies the most, though cottage cheese has the most at 65 mcg per cup.

4. Iodized salt

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most Americans have too much sodium in their diets, with an average of 3,400 mcg when we really should be peaking at 2,300 mcg. Although the majority of this intake usually comes from processed and prepared foods, if you plan to add salt to your meals, try to prioritize iodized salt when possible. “A quarter teaspoon of iodized salt contains about 70 mcg of iodine,” Maeng says, which is just under half your RDA of this micronutrient. Since excess salt and sodium are linked to several harmful health issues, she advises using a light hand when basting your food and not overdoing it just to increase your intake of salt. iodine.

5. Shrimps

“Shrimp are a good source of iodine because, like other fish, they can absorb iodine that is naturally present in seawater,” says Maeng. A three-ounce serving of shrimp will contain about 35 mcg of iodine, along with other essential nutrients like selenium, phosphorus and vitamin B12, she adds.

6 eggs

Whether you prefer your eggs scrambled, hard-boiled, poached, or otherwise prepared, you’ll be happy to know that they’re a good source of iodine with about 25 mcg each. However, egg white omelets won’t pack the same punch, because “most of that iodine comes from the yolk,” says Maeng.

7. Prunes

While prunes are known to be a great source of fiber, Maeng also says they’re a good vegan source of iodine. (In other words, these dried fruits are particularly useful for plant eaters, as well as people who are supported.) “Five prunes contain about 15 mcg of iodine, and they also contain a lot of iron, vitamin K, vitamin A and potassium,” says Maeng.

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