Many people don't realise the role that iodine plays in their everyday lives, or how it functions in their bodies. Iodine is a mineral that is essential for the growth and function of the thyroid gland. Lack of iodine in the diet can result in hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, or in extreme cases, a swelling of the thyroid gland below the jaw, called goitre. In order to prevent this, it is important to include iodine-rich foods in your daily diet.
One of the most commonly used condiments, iodised table salt is a great source of iodine. Containing 300 micrograms of iodine per 100 grams, iodised salt contains double the body's daily need for iodine. Iodised salt can be added to a wide variety of dishes, including pastas, salads, sandwiches and sauces. However, too much salt can be a bad thing, as excess sodium can cause water retention and a spike in blood pressure, so be sure to stick to the daily recommended amount of 2400 milligrams. This can be easily accomplished by checking labels of prepared and packaged foods and keeping track of your daily consumption of sodium and iodine.
Seaweed is a popular dietary staple in Asia and many island countries. Valued for its taste and fibre content, seaweed also has a high iodine content. Because seaweed gets its iodine from the water and soil it grows in, iodine content in seaweed varies. But saltwater seaweed usually contains between 500 and 8,000 milligrams of iodine. This can be consumed in sushi rolls and seaweed salads, or as a sandwich or wrap filling. Brown algae has the highest iodine content, green and red algae both have less iodine, but still are good dietary sources of iodine.
Cow's milk is a good source of iodine, with one cup of two per cent milk providing 39 per cent of the daily recommended serving of iodine. Because yoghurt is a cultured, milk-based product, there is an even greater iodine content in yoghurt than is found in milk. One cup of low-fat yoghurt contains 58 micrograms of iodine and 58 per cent of the daily recommended serving of iodine. The high iodine content of milk and milk-based products can be attributed to the iodine-enriched feed that dairy cattle are fed. This iodine-enriched feed is eaten by the cattle and the iodine passes into the milk, which is how it is consumed by people.