Iodine is one of the most important minerals responsible for the proper functioning of the thyroid glands. Its deficiency may lead to conditions such as hypothyroidism, goiter, cretinism, auto-immune diseases, and preventable mental retardation in children. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can not only be harmful to the mother but for child’s mental and cognitive development as well.
Iodine becomes important when it comes to the production of hormones in the thyroid glands. An average adult needs about 150 micrograms of iodine daily to maintain healthy and proper production of thyroid hormones. Both, excess or the lack of iodine in the body can adversely affect the functioning of thyroid glands and the production of thyroid hormones.
Your body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control how fast your cells work. In the UK, the recommended iodine intake for adults is 140 micrograms per day. Every vegan needs a reliable source of iodine in their diet.
Sources of iodine
There is no easy way of knowing how much iodine is in plant foods. Plant foods (apart from seaweed) may contain a low amount of iodine. The amount of iodine in a plant food varies depending on how much is in the soil the plant is grown in.
Although seaweed is a rich source of iodine, there are several reasons why it may not be the best option. The iodine content of seaweed is variable, and sometimes too high. Also, some types are contaminated.
Iodised salt is not a good option because public health authorities recommend that we cut down on salt.
Arguably, a non-seaweed supplement is the most reliable way of meeting your body’s need for iodine. The Vegan Society markets a daily vitamin and mineral supplement designed for vegans called VEG 1, providing reliable intakes of vitamins B12 and D, iodine, and selenium. Please discuss the use of supplements with a health professional to help ensure that they are suitable for you.
Another option is to use plant milk fortified with iodine. Identify this type of product by looking for potassium iodide in the list of ingredients. Currently, most plant milks are not fortified with iodine.
Need more information? Read our detailed PDF.
You can compare your diet to our guidelines using the free VNutrition app.