Are you getting enough iodine? Iodine deficiency symptoms and why you need it?

There are great chances you are not and this is because of few reasons:

  • Salt in UK is not iodised.
  • The United Kingdom ranks seventh amongst the ten most iodine deficient countries in the world.
  • The most abundant iodine sources are seaweed and certain type of fish like haddock and cod and usually that’s not part of our daily typical diet. I wouldn’t even recommend eating fish every day because of mercury contamination.

Also, if you are interested how much iodine you can lose daily when exercising check out my other post here.

The most common iodine sources but not the best ones

Eggs and milk are usually advertised as a good iodine source. I love eggs and they are super nutritious but one egg contains on average 25mcg of iodine. It means you would need to consume 6 eggs each day – that’s quite a lot!

Milk on the hand is richer in iodine but the content is pretty variable, ranging from 50 to 100mcg per 200ml glass of non-organic milk and 30-60mcg of iodine per 200ml glass of organic cow’s milk. Also, iodine does not naturally occur in cow’s milk. It comes from the cattle feed and iodine containing disinfectants used to sterilise milking equipment.  

The only question is, is it healthy to drink two full glasses of milk each day? My answer is no! Milk is highly pro-inflammatory and can contribute to leaky gut. Many adults don’t digest milk well either.

Apart from that there are also few other things to consider in terms of daily iodine intake.

Daily recommended iodine intake

Daily recommended iodine intake was set at 150mcg for an adult. However, functional medicine practitioners consider that this recommendation is way below our actual requirements. This is because of two things: our daily exposure to toxins these days and iodine is not only used by thyroid as its usually assumed.

Is iodine needed only for thyroid?

As you know, Iodine is used to make thyroid hormones, but it’s also needed to protect the reproductive organs, and it may be useful for fibrocystic breast pain and managing uterine fibroids. Interestingly, Iodine concentrations are higher in breast tissue comparing to thyroid. Molecular iodine can be especially effective for breast pain, ovarian cysts and oestrogen dominance symptoms as it known to downregulate oestrogen receptors and have ‘anti-oestrogenic effect’.

If you struggle with unexplained weight gain, low energy, brain fog and hair loss, definitely worth checking your thyroid and taking a look at your iodine intake. Iodine is the essential for healthy thyroid function and also one of the key nutrients if it comes to natural treatment for hypothyroidism.

Japanese iodine phenomenon

You probably heard about Okinawa and Japan in general as world’s most long-lived country. Also, Japan records pretty low breast cancer incidence comparing to other countries 6.6 per 100,000 citizens. In comparison, in U.S. it’s 22 per 100,000 and in the U.K. it’s 27 per 100,000. Japan has significantly lower rates of hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disease.  The average daily dietary iodine intake may be surprising but apparently, it’s 25 times higher than in US or other European country. Average Japanese can consume from 300mcg up to 3000mcg of iodine per day. To put that into perspective most of the UK population doesn’t meet the minimum daily requirement which is 150mcg.

Exposure to Fluoride, bromine and chloride decrease iodine absorption

Back to iodine requirements and why we may need more than its recommended. Fluoride, chloride and bromine are main thyroid disruptors that use the same receptor as iodine to get into the cell and can decrease iodine absorption. Fluoride is found in toothpaste and tap water. Bromine on the other hand is commonly used in sodas and baked goods like bread. Chloride is also pretty common – water again, especially swimming pools. You don’t have to actually drink water to get chlorine in your system. Skin is one of our biggest organs that has pretty good ability to absorb everything you put on your skin. Having said that showering without chlorine filter could increase your chloride exposure as well.

Iodine deficiency symptoms

There are various iodine insufficiency symptoms, most of them will be related to low thyroid function. The best way to find out if you are low in iodine is urine test (most reliable) or hair tissue mineral analysis.

  • Low energy and fatigue,
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • Feeling cold
  • Brittle nails
  • Difficulty concentrating, slowed mental processes and poor memory
  • Weight gain
  • Frequent infections
  • Elevated blood cholesterol
  • Depression, anxiety and mood disorders
  • Thick puffy skin or puffiness of the face
  • Hair loss
  • Dry Skin
  • Constipation
  • Weak, slow heart beat
  • Enlarged thyroid or goitre
  • Fibrous breast tissues
  • Ovarian cysts

Foods highest in iodine

Iodine is one of those trace minerals that you just need the right amount of it. Getting too little or too much of it can cause serious problems. Too much of iodine can generate lots of free radicals and cause oxidative damage, it can also worse Hashimotos, especially in absence of selenium. Because of that the best source of iodine is food of course. Seaweed and certain fish like Cod and Haddock are the most abundad iodine foods. Seaweed doesn’t taste great – I know! but you can always add some dressing on the top of it or incorporate it in stews, soups or other meals to weaken the ‘sea’ taste:)

Here are other foods that will help you meet your daily iodine requirements:

  • Seaweed:
    • Kombu
    • Kelp
    • Arame
    • Bladderwrack
    • Dulse
    • Nori
    • Wakame
  • Fish:
    • Haddock
    • Pollack
    • Hallibut
    • Plaice
    • Salmon
    • Tuna
  • Seafood:
    • Prawns
    • Scampi
  • Dairy:
    • Cow’s milk
    • Greek yogurt
    • Egg
    • Cheese

What’s happening in UK with fluroide now?

In September 2021 it has been announced that fluoride will be added to the water (on the top of the naturally occuring fluoride already present in the water). It is suppose to prevent tooth decay and cavities. When I heard about it I was really upset. As we didn’t have enough toxins and pesticides that surround us. in our daily life. Why nobody is promoting reducing sugar, limiting pesticides use or using coconut oil to keep your teeth and gums healthy? That of course wouldn’t make people ill but fluroide certainly can. It’s not only about thyroid, fluroide is also known as neurotoxin that can cause damage to the brain and processes like learning, thinking, attention etc.

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