Of all the nutrients that are of concern to those who are following a plant-based diet – the danger of low iodine and low-sodium plant-based food is definitely at the top of the list. And the cause for worry is justified too – as much as 30% or 3 in every 10 people are suffering from iodine deficiency. What are the issues that you will come face-to-face if you were to ignore the problem? How should you meet the iodine demands when all you eat is plant-based? Let us find out. Read on…
Why You Need Iodine?
This is one of the nutrients that are responsible for regulating the consumption of oxygen in the cell and also for controlling the basal metabolic rates, indirectly by helping in the formation of thyroid hormones thyroxin and triiodothyronine. To produce these hormones, your thyroid gland “traps” the iodine. It then combines it with amino acids like tyrosine.
Now, what happens when the iodine levels fall low? The hormone levels will drop. To make up for the deficit, the pituitary gland releases a certain hormone that is called the thyroid-stimulating hormone – an attempt to bring the balance back to normal. When this goes on for too long, there are several side-effects which include:
- Constant mood swings
- Bloating and acidity
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Weakened immune system and response
- Weight gain
- Loss of hair
- A rise in cholesterol levels
There are several developmental disorders that slow growth rates, like cretinism. This is true for carrying mothers, as a lowered iodine level can result in miscarriage as well.
Plant-Based Food Sources That Are Iodine Rich
It is wise to consume iodine in small doses rather than a large dose, frequently. The levels in fruits and vegetables vary depending on the growing conditions and the preparation methods. For this reason, you will not be able to pin-point the exact milligrams of iodine that you will be ingesting. Seaweed or kelp (kombu seaweed) is a great source of iodine. You may cook them with dried beans to add in natural sodium to your dishes. You may prepare canned beans with kombu. You may even add in other types of seaweed (wakame, norim, dulse, and armai) in dishes like soups and salads.
You may even take vegan-friendly supplements for iodine, too. Keep in mind that foods like kombu are extremely rich in natural iodine – as much as 8000 mcg per gram. Cut it up and don’t use the entire length of the weed in one meal sitting.