Thursday, May 13, 2010

All About Iodine and Common Food Sources

Iodine is a trace mineral needed by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone. Too little iodine in the body can cause a goiter (enlargement of the thyroid,) hypothyroidism, and lead to problems in infants and children who were iodine deficient during pregnancy. According to The World's Healthiest Foods: goiter, fatigue, weakness, and depression can all indicate a need for more high-iodine foods. The New York Times article "Neanderthal or Cretin? A Debate over Iodine" is an interesting read about one geographer view "that that little more than the amount of iodine in their diets may have been responsible for the physical differences between Neanderthals and modern humans." Table salt is fortified as a protective measure to make sure that everyone gets enough iodine.

According to the American Thyroid Association, sources of iodine are:
  • bread
  • cheese
  • cow's milk
  • eggs
  • frozen yogurt
  • ice cream
  • iodine containing multivitamins
  • iodized table salt
  • saltwater fish
  • seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori) shellfish
  • soy milk
  • soy sauce
  • yogurt
But, many foods that contain iodine contain gluten or casein, so they would not be foods a child on a gluten free/casein free diet would be consuming regularly. Individual iodine supplementation is tricky, because although it is a necessity for the thyroid, the body adjusts to the amount that it gets regularly and will absorb more if less is taken in. This is a protective measure but it also makes supplementation tricky. Too much iodine can cause a dangerous thyroid storm. A doctor suggested that my kids take thyroid from kelp and they did not do well on kelp supplementation. Instead, they do better with a multivitamin which contains iodine and plain old table salt. I had switched to sea salt thinking it was more natural and therefore healthier. It is more natural and it is probably healthier, in some ways, but it wasn't healthier for my kids, who needed the iodine.

I bring this up because many people report that their children do better on a gluten free casein free diet initially, but then the effects wear off. Consuming a multivitamin with iron and iodized table salt can insure that a child on a GF/CF diet is getting enough iodine as well as other necessary vitamins and minerals. Because iodine is not something that is usually tested in an individual, consuming a few of the common sources of iodine is the easiest way to insure supplementation.

Supplementation individually with iodine requires working with a nutritionist or doctor with an understanding of the dangers of thyroid storms, a lot of research and watching for side effects. It is NOT a do it yourself undertaking and not recommended in usual circumstances. Although iodine is essential to good health, it is also a poison in large amounts. Like many things we encounter every day--including water "The dose makes the poison." Even under the supervision of a doctor, individual supplementation with iodine can be tricky--this is because even though you need iodine, the amount you need on a daily basis (about 1/100 of a drop) is difficult to get through an individual supplement.

My daughter still does best taking 3 Hero Multivitamin and Mineral Yummi Bears every day which contain iodine and are gluten and casein free. Three bears contain 75 micrograms of iodine which is 110% of the daily value for kids under four and 50% of the daily value for kids over the age of four. I know gummies are terrible for your teeth, so she takes them in the morning right before she brushes her teeth. She would actually rather NOT take these and feels she is too old for them, but we haven't found a suitable replacement so we have both decided that she will continue to take them.

What I have learned is that people should do what works for them and their families. Everyone is different and has different nutritional needs.

The Hero Yummi Bears are Yeast Free and contain No Wheat, No Milk, No Egg, No Gluten, No Salt, No Artificial Colors, No Artificial Flavors, No Preservatives, No Salicylates. But they DO contain: glucose syrup, natural cane juice, gelatin, citric acid, lactic acid, natural colors added(including black carrot, annatto, turmeric and purple berry concentrate), natural flavors (strawberry, orange, pineapple, cherry, lemon and grape), fractionated coconut oil and carnauba wax to help prevent sticking. A child sensitive to any of the ingredients that are present might do well on another supplement.


Dayhomemama said...

Wow, thanks so much for that information. I think my thyroid wasn't working, but instead of taking drugs so far, I've managed to bring it to normal levels by adding iodine to my diet, it is obvious I didn't get much by the list of foods that contain it. The only food I had been eating is eggs (just the whites) and sometimes yogurt. I now feel incredible, energetic and weight is coming off!!

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Anonymous said...

If the yummi bears have coconut oil in them, then they are NOT salicylate free. Coconut is one of the foods highest in salicylates.

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