The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. In addition, this mineral is needed for the production of thyroid hormones. As an integral part of thyroid hormones it regulates body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, blood cell production, nerve and muscle function and more. By controlling the rate at which the cells use oxygen, these hormones influence the amount of energy released when the body is at total rest. Approximately 70 to 80% of the body’s iodine is found in the thyroid.
The Primary Sources of Iodine
Most foods have low iodine content however, iodized salt, seafood, plants grown in iodine-rich soil and animals fed those plants or feed containing iodine are good sources. Additional foods may be sources of iodine if iodized salt is used in their preparation (e.g. bread).
Bioavailability of Iodine
Normally, the absorption of iodine from foods is very high (>90%). Some foods (e.g., cassava, millet, lima beans, cabbage) contain substances called goitrogens. These substances inhibit the transfer of iodine to the thyroid gland and disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. If foods containing goitrogens are consumed in large quantities, they may limit the absorption and use of iodine by the body. In general, most people can tolerate higher intakes of iodine from food and supplements.
Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Iodine
Iodine deficiency has adverse effects at all stages of development but is most damaging to the developing brain. In addition to regulating many aspects of growth and development, thyroid hormone is important for myelination of the nerves, which is most active before and shortly after birth. Thus during pregnancy, diets deficient in iodine may result in higher risk for mental retardation. Thyroid enlargement, or goiter, is one of the most visible signs of iodine deficiency.
Incorporate iodine into your next evening meal by trying the delicious recipe below…
Garlic & Chilli Prawns*
Peel the prawns, removing the heads and leaving the tails on. Run the tip of a knife down the backs of the peeled prawns and pull out and discard the dark vein. Peel the garlic and finely chop with the chilli (deseed if you like). Pick and finely chop the parsley leaves. Next, drizzle the oil into a shallow heatproof terracotta dish or a small frying pan over a medium-high heat, add the garlic and chilli and fry for 30 seconds to flavour the oil, before stirring in the paprika. Add the prawns and fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through, adding most of the parsley when you turn the prawns.Squeeze half the lemon juice into the dish, then remove from the heat and sprinkle over the remaining parsley and a pinch of sea salt.
*Adapted from Jamie Oliver Recipes