What does it do?
It's an essential constituent of your thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism (the rate at which your body uses energy).
It's also key player in many biochemical reactions that affect heart rate, respiratory rate and a wide variety of other physiological activities.
What are the best food sources?
This minerals content in foods varies widely due to soil content, irrigation and fertilizer.
It's usually low in areas that are eroded or are distant from oceans, the source of most of the world’s iodine.
Seafood and seaweed are rich natural sources.
Processed foods may contain higher levels due to the addition of iodized salt or other additives containing this mineral (e.g., calcium iodate).
In North America, iodized salt is widely available.
However, salt is not required to be iodized.
One-fourth of a teaspoon of iodized table salt contains about 100 micrograms of iodine.
So, what happens if you don’t get enough?
Due to the widespread use of iodized salt, deficiency is rare in the North America.
However, it's deficiency affects millions of people worldwide and is identified as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.
Major international efforts are currently under way to reverse and prevent this problem.
This deficiency has actually been classified as a disease (IDD) and results in a range of symptoms from mild to severe, including goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland and usually the earliest sign), mental retardation, hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone), and varying degrees of growth and development abnormalities.
And, what happens if you get too much?
Individuals can tolerate a wide range of intake levels because the thyroid gland regulates the body’s level of this mineral.
Acute intakes though, those ingested over a short time period, can cause burning of the mouth, throat and stomach; fever; gastrointestinal illness, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; a weak pulse; and coma.
In iodine-sufficient populations, chronic intakes at levels above the tolerable upper intake level (UL) have the following adverse effects: goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland), hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone), hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).
And, if you're wondering how to get more in your diet;
Italian Tofu Frittata
To add more iodine to your diet, consider this flavorful frittata for dinner (as well as serving it for breakfast or lunch).
Combining the eggs with tofu and the spices not only ensures a light fluffy frittata, it also adds extra nutrients and flavor.
And frittatas are a great way to add a variety of vegetables to your meal; the combination's are only limited by your imagination and what you have available in your refrigerator.
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 c. onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. zucchini, diced
1 c. red bell pepper, diced
2 c. finely chopped kale, (remove stems)
1 c. chopped fresh tomato
1/4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
5 oz. firm light tofu, drained
4 egg whites
1 Tbs. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. turmeric
Sea salt and fresh cracked white pepper to taste
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
Chop onions and garlic and let sit for 5 minutest to bring out their health-promoting benefits.
Prepare rest of vegetables.
Pureé tofu with egg whites, Italian seasoning and turmeric in blender.
In 10 inch stainless steel pan, heat 2 Tbs. broth.
When broth begins to steam add onion, garlic, zucchini, bell pepper, kale, and tomato and sauté for about 1 minute over medium low heat, stirring often.
Add 1/4 c. broth and red wine vinegar.
Pour tofu mixture over vegetables, cover and cook over low heat until mixture is completely firm and cooked, about 12 minutes.
Top with chopped parsley.
Makes 4 Servings
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