Iodine is an essential micronutrient that is primarily derived from the ocean and soil. Its most important known function is as a component of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland (located at the base of the neck) and play a vital role in the regulation of metabolic processes such as growth and energy expenditure. They are essential throughout childhood for normal brain and physical development. They are also critical for normal development of the baby in the womb, so for women who plan to become pregnant, iodine intake is one of the important nutritional factors they need to consider.
How much Iodine do you need?
Adults: 150 µg/day
Pregnancy and Lactation: 200 µg/day
Children (6-12 years): 120 µg/day
Infants (0-5 years): 90 µg/day
How do you get Iodine?
Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups
Seafood, 2-3 meals of seafood per week
Iodised salt (contains 25-65 micrograms of iodine per gram of salt)
Dairy products and eggs
What happens if you don’t get enough Iodine?
Iodine deficiency occurs when an individual does not consume adequate amounts of iodine in their diet. This can result in the thyroid gland becoming enlarged in order to maintain production of thyroid hormones without an essential component. This is a condition known as ‘goitre’.
Another outcome of Iodine deficiency is hypothyroidism, the result of reduced thyroid hormone synthesis and therefore lower blood levels of thyroid hormones. This can lead to weight gain, lethargy, intolerance to cold, increases blood cholesterol, mental slowness, and reduced heart function.