One of the most cited concerns when it comes to plant-based diet is low iodine. It is estimated that a staggering 30% of the world population is deficient in iodine, and the deficiency is more prevalent among vegans or someone who follows a plant-based diet. There are grave health issues that one could face from a lack of iodine in their diet.
Why Does One Need Iodine?
Iodine is one of the key ingredients in forming thyroxin and other thyroid hormones like Tri-iodothyronine. Both these hormones are critical in regulating the amount of cellular oxygen that is consumed and controlling the rate at which metabolism occurs to generate energy.
To make these hormones, the thyroid gland holds onto the iodine and links them with amino acid tyrosine. What this essentially means is that if you are short on iodine in the body, then the hormone production reduces and causes your pituitary gland to pump out more of the hormone called Thyroid stimulating hormone to help force the thyroid to ramp up production. Many issues occur when this happens for long, and some of the side-effects of this include:
- Feeling constipated and bloated
- Feeling lethargic and tired
- Loss of hair
- Mood shifts
- Weight gain
- Weakened immunity response
- Increased cholesterol levels
- More sensitiveness to cold
There are many developmental impairments that one goes through as a result of this deficiency and causes slower growth rates. In the case of women, low iodine levels can also increase the likelihood of miscarriage.
Plant-Based Food Sources That Are Rich In Iodine
Levels of iodine present in fruits and vegetables are very much affected by the soil quality parameters and other factors. As a result, you cannot be sure that a fixed amount of fruits and veggies will yield you the required iodine.
Instead, you can take in vegan-friendly iodine supplements or say a multi-vitamin that is rich in iodine. Surprisingly, plant-based food like kombu seaweed which is also called as kelp is rich in iodine. It can be bought from your local supermarket and can be added in with other sources such as canned beans to meet your iodine demands.
If you are deficient in iodine, then it is advised that excessive amounts of soy be avoided because it causes an interference with the thyroid function in the absence of adequate iodine. It will only worsen the situation and make you all the more susceptible to other issues.