Iodine is that brown liquid you find in your grandparents medicine cupboard often used as an antiseptic to treat wounds. However, iodine is much more than this. Iodine is an important trace element used by the thyroid gland in the production of thyroid hormones, which is required for metabolic and cellular processes within the body.
Unfortunately, Australian soils are very low in naturally occurring iodine, which results in our food being depleted of this essential nutrient.
Where Does it Come From?
The main sources of dietary iodine are from dairy milk and dairy products, seafood and iodised salt. To rectify the re-emergence of iodine deficiency in the population within Australia and New Zealand, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) developed a mandatory iodine fortification regulation.
This saw that non-iodised salt was replaced with iodised salt, which is now added to all bread, other than organic bread. Where as iodine found in milk, is a result of the sanitizing processes of milk and other dairy products causing an iodine residue to be left behind, in which we ultimately absorb.
Why is Iodine Deficiency Prevalent Today?
Due to health and personal reasons many people are opting to avoid dairy and bread, as well as switching to alternative salts such as Himalayan and Celtic salts. These alternatives contain no added iodine, leading to this re-emergence of iodine deficiency.
Recommended Daily Intakes:
According to the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand, the recommended daily intake for iodine is as followed:
- Children 100 micrograms
- Adults 150 micrograms
- Pregnancy: 220 micrograms
What are the Health Concerns Associated with Iodine Deficiency?
Iodine deficiencies may cause or be associated with many health issues, some of these include fatigue, hair loss, constipation, weight gain, fertility issues and concentration.
Below are Iodine Deficiency Disorders outlined by Food Standards Australia:
- Still births
- Congenital abnormalities
- Increased perinatal mortality
- Increased infant mortality
- Neurological cretinism: mental deficiency, deaf mutism, spastic diplegia, squint
- Myoedematous cretinism: dwarfism, mental deficiency
- Psychomotor defects
- Neonatal goitre
- Neonatal hypothyroidism
Child and adolescence:
- Juvenile hypothyroidism
- Impaired mental function
- Retarded physical development
- Goitre with its complications
- Impaired mental function
- Iodine induced hyperthyroidism
Other Food Sources of Iodine
Increasing iodine in your diet can often be difficult, especially if you avoid dairy and iodized bread and salt, so here are some of my favourites:
- Seafood (particularly haddock, mackerel and cod)
- Sea vegetables (kelp, dulse, nori, and wakme)
- Egg yolk
- Citrus fruits
Note: I would recommend avoiding products from Japan due to their possible toxicity
Supplementation and Testing
The right amount of iodine is required to keep the production of thyroid hormone in balance, however just as too little can have detrimental effects on your health so can too much.
Therefore, if you think you suspect an iodine deficiency, I do recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner. The most accurate form of iodine testing is the urinary iodine test (24 hour urine loading test). This will give you and your healthcare practitioner an informative reading to work from.
In Health & Happiness
Chae @ The Wellness Emporium
Sources and references:
Australian Thyroid Foundation. (2016). Iodine Nutrition and Iodine Deficiency. https://www.thyroidfoundation.org.au/Iodine-Deficiency
Food Standards Australia. (2014). Iodine Fortification. http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/iodinefort/pages/default.aspx
Gallego, Gisselle, Stephen Goodall, and Creswell J. Eastman. “Iodine deficiency in Australia: is iodine supplementation for pregnant and lactating women warranted.” Medical Journal of Austalia 192.8 (2010): 461-3. http://www.ign.org/cm_data/2010_Gallego_ID_in_Australia_is_iodine_supplementation_for_PW_and_LW_warranted_MJA.pdf
Hechtman, L. (2012). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.
Li, M., Waite, K. V., Ma, G., & Eastman, C. J. (2006). Declining iodine content of milk and re-emergence of iodine deficiency in Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 184(6), 307. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Creswell_Eastman/publication/7229841_Declining_iodine_content_of_milk_and_re-emergence_of_iodine_deficiency_in_Australia/links/0912f50d6bb94a8abb000000.pdf
Murray, M. T., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Foods (1st Ed.). New York: Atria Books.
NHRMC. (2004). Iodine | Nutrient Reference Values. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iodine
Osiecki, H. (2010). The Nutrient Bible (8th Ed.). Australia: Bio Concepts Publishing
Dr. Brownstein shares some excellent information on the latest research in regards to iodine: http://www.drbrownstein.com
Food Standards Australia. (2007). The Prevalence and Severity of Iodine Deficiency in Australia http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/proposals/documents/The%20prevalence%20and%20severity%20of%20iodine%20deficiency%20in%20Australia%2013%20Dec%202007.pdf1