One of the nutrients that can easily get overlooked on a plant based diet is iodine. Iodine is critical for thyroid health; a butterfly-shaped gland which sits within the neck region on the body, and is responsible for metabolic control within the body. Iodine deficiency is particularly dangerous during pregnancy.
Disorders of the thyroid are relatively common, and tend to fall into the categories of either hyperactivity or hypoactivity, often exhibiting swings between both ends of the spectrum.
How would I know if my thyroid isn’t functioning properly?
Symptoms typical of hypoactivity include a cold bodily sensation, depression, weight gain, dryness, sluggish digestion, poor memory, increased cholesterol levels, and exhaustion. Hyperactivity can result in unexplained weight loss, anxiety, palpitations, a fast heart rate and increased sensitivity to heat.
Whilst there a multitude of causes for thyroid dysfunction, ensuring the body has the nutrients required for thyroid health is critical in its function.
Where can I find iodine on a plant-based diet?
Iodine can be found reliably in three places on a plant-based diet: in iodised salt (this is NOT the same as Himalayan pink salt), from iodine supplements OR from seaweed.
So how much iodine do we need? The adult RDA is only 150 mcg per day, a tiny amount, and too much is toxic, with an upper limit set to 1,100 mcg per day.
Seaweeds can be fantastic foods to meet your iodine requirements; the only trouble being to know how much iodine they contain, since each batch contains widely varying amount, depending on where they were grown, and how they’re processed. Some rough guidelines to meet the 150mcg RDI include half a teaspoon or arame or dulse or 1.5 sheets of nori. Again, the reality is that these amounts may vary widely, and are probably best used as delicious parts of your meals a few times a week, as opposed to relying upon these as your trusted iodine source.
Whilst you should only require half a teaspoon of iodised salt to reach your daily requirements, many people could do without adding salt to their food. If seaweed tickles your fancy, one way of ensuring you are reaching the amount you require from a source more natural than a supplement, would be to take kelp tablets or capsules, where the amount of iodine has been established and stated. Kelp is extremely high in iodine and it would be very unwise to use amounts beyond recommend.
Avoid hijiki seaweed, since though mineral rich, it’s also rich in arsenic, which you absolutely do not want.
Whilst whole soy foods, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage) and flaxseeds are delicious and incredible healthy, if your iodine levels are suboptimal, they can cause problems with your thyroid. So ensure you’re nailing your iodine!
If you’d like any help with planning your plant based diet for optimum long-lasting success, or support with your thyroid condition, please see my Prices and Bookings page to see how I may be able to help you. I look forward to working with you!
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