We all must consume enough iodine to support thyroid function, and luckily, many of us can do so from the foods we eat. However, certain groups are less likely to intake enough of this vital mineral to support thyroid health and are at a higher risk of developing an iodine deficiency.
But which of us are more at risk, and how can we consume enough iodine to avoid unwanted health problems?
Vegans are more likely to develop an iodine deficiency, as leading sources of iodine come from animals and fish. That’s why vegans may need to take Vegan Iodine Supplements to ensure adequate iodine levels and maintain thyroid function.
So if you’re a vegan who wants to make sure you’re getting enough iodine to support your health, you’re in good hands. This blog will discuss everything you need to know about iodine, from how it functions in the body to how plant-based eaters can increase their intake to ensure thyroid health.
What is iodine?
To fully understand why iodine consumption is essential for vegans, we need to understand what iodine is and its role in our health.
Iodine is an essential mineral, meaning our bodies need it to function but cannot produce it independently. That’s why everyone, particularly vegans, needs to be mindful of their iodine intake.
But why is it so important? Daily iodine intake plays a significant role in thyroid function, as the thyroid gland needs this mineral to produce essential thyroid hormones.
Studies show that these hormones play an essential role in the following:
- Support brain development
- Regulate metabolism
- Support growth and development
- Produce energy
- Support healthy cells
- Support the brain
- Regulate body temperature
That’s why everyone needs to make an effort to consume enough iodine to support these functions - but why should vegans take extra care to do so?
Why do vegans need iodine?
Research shows a higher prevalence of iodine deficiency amongst vegans due to the restrictive nature of their diet. The richest sources of iodine come from foods that vegans steer clear of, some of which include:
- Fish (such as cod and tuna)
Because vegans avoid these foods, they may not be consuming enough iodine to support thyroid health. This is a problem, as the symptoms of iodine deficiency include:
- Swelling in the neck from an overcompensating thyroid (also known as a goiter)
- Fatigue and weakness
- Irregularities in weight
- Thinning hair
- Stunted growth
- Dry skin
- Impaired cognitive function
- Lower IQ
- Lower body temperature
To avoid these symptoms, vegans need to find sources of iodine that are both plant-based and rich in this vital mineral.
Vegan sources of iodine
Luckily, there are a few vegan foods that plant-based eaters can include in their diet to increase their essential nutrient intake. For example, vegan sources of iodine include:
- Seaweed and sea vegetables (dulse, kelp, nori, wakame)
- Certain fruits (prunes, strawberries, cranberries)
- Certain vegetables (kale, green beans, string beans)
- Whole grains (pasta and barley)
- Iodized salt
However, many vegans aren’t consuming enough of these foods to satisfy the dietary recommended intake of iodine, which studies show is 150 mcg per day for adults. This means that this demographic of plant-based food eaters is at a higher risk for iodine deficiency.
Many people take iodine supplements to ensure they’re intaking the right amount of iodine on a vegan diet.
Luckily, FuelOrganics offers a high-quality vegan iodine supplement for vegans dedicated to ensuring thyroid health. This supplement is made with kelp, which is nutrient-dense, rich in essential minerals, and a leading source of iodine.
Interested in learning more about Iodine? Here are some more articles you might like:
The thyroid is responsible for many vital functions, so an adequate intake of iodine is essential to maintaining general health. For vegans, it may be harder to consume enough iodine from our diet alone, which is why supplementation is often necessary.
Luckily, iodine supplements can help to ensure that even plant-based eaters can consume enough of this mineral to support their health.
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. How does the thyroid gland work? 2010 Nov 17 [Updated 2018 Apr 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279388/
- Krajcovicová-Kudlácková M, Bucková K, Klimes I, Seboková E. Iodine deficiency in vegetarians and vegans. Ann Nutr Metab. 2003;47(5):183-5. doi: 10.1159/000070483. PMID: 12748410.
- Iodine. Fact sheets for consumers. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/