Vegan Sources of Iodine: The Best Foods to Eat
Finding vegan sources of iodine can help to improve your overall health. Most people who consume a traditional diet consisting of dairy and animal protein won’t have to worry about it.
When you decide to switch to a plant-based lifestyle, you need to ensure that you’re getting all of the right nutrients in your diet. The most common source of iodine is fish, including tuna and cod, which you won’t be eating if you decide to go vegan.
Iodine is an essential mineral that isn’t discussed as often as it should be, yet it is quite remarkable, especially among pregnant women. In this guide, we’ll talk about all of the best vegan-friendly sources of the mineral to create a more well-rounded diet. We’d also talk about how the Visual Impact Muscle Building program can help.
The Importance of Iodine
Most people don’t realize the importance of every single mineral their body ingests because, more often than not, they come from meat. As a vegan, you pay far more attention to the foods you put into your body as well as their nutrient-rich properties.
The human thyroid is not only responsible for hormone regulation, but also your metabolism and fetal development if you are pregnant. Iodine is a fantastic supporting element for your thyroid.
With the correct dosages, you’ll be protecting the bone and brain development of your child while they are in-utero and once they have been born. The total amounts you should consume will vary, however, depending on your age.
How Much Iodine Do I Need?
If you find yourself asking how much iodine you should be eating, there are general guidelines based on age. It is a good idea to talk to your family doctor first, as everyone is different, and you may need more or less iodine compared to others.
For a general sense, consider the chart below.
Recommended Iodine Amount
Birth to six months
Seven to 12 months
One to eight years
Nine to 13 years
14 to 18 years
Vegan Sources of Iodine
Now that you have a clear idea of the amount of iodine you should be consuming based on averages, let’s get into the most delicious foods you should look out for. There is an abundance of sources that are fantastic for a plant-based diet.
If you’re a fan of vegan sushi, you’ll love the idea of eating more seaweed. Not only is it a fantastic resource of iodine, but it also provides an ample amount of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals.
The most important thing to take note of is that the nutritional profile of seaweed varies depending on where it is cultivated.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to how it is processed, as some methods can take away from the overall benefit of the food. If you’re looking for the healthiest and most iodine-rich seaweed varieties, we recommend kombu kelp, nori, and wakame.
2. Kombu Kelp
Kombu kelp is typically sold in a fine powder or dried sheets. Most often, it’s added to a Japanese soup recipe known as dashi. As a delicious ingredient to an assortment of meals, it’s the best source of iodine out of a variety of other seaweed types.
The Journal of Food and Drug Analysis has a study that analyzed different types of seaweed for their iodine content across Asia. The study found that Kombu kelp can have up to 2,984 mcg of iodine per sheet (per gram), which is up to 2000% of your daily intake requirement.
With a flavor that is slightly sweeter than Kombu kelp, wakame is another type of seaweed that is from Asia that has a relatively high amount of iodine in it, though it’s not nearly as much as Kombu kelp. This type of seaweed is most nutrient-rich when cultivated in Asia, rather than New Zealand or Australia.
In some parts of the world, the average amount of iodine you can find in wakame seaweed is approximately 66 mcg per gram. This amount equates to about 44% of your daily intake requirement of iodine. Though it might not be as nutrient-rich as the kelp variants, it is a delicious addition to an assortment of recipes.
The last type of seaweed we’ll discuss, nori is an incredibly popular type of plant that is common with sushi. It isn’t classified as brown seaweed, but as red, which unfortunately means that it also has the lowest amount of iodine.
On average, a gram of nori may contain anywhere from 16 to 43 mcg of iodine, which only accounts for up to 29% of your recommended daily intake.
If you’re a huge fan of seaweed, we suggest you invest your time into finding kelp, as it seems to have the highest concentration of iodine to add to your diet.
Potatoes are easily one of the best items to have in your cupboard when it comes to a vegan diet. You can use them to create nacho cheese, to have a thick filler for casseroles, or to even make your plant-based french fries.
Did you know that they also contain a reasonable amount of iodine?
A single medium potato has up to 60 mcg of iodine, which means that if you have two in your meals, you’ll be eating twice as much as you would with wakame seaweed. This is the reason why we love potatoes; they are not only versatile, but they also contain some of our most essential minerals.
Even though these may not be as tempting as other ingredients on this list, prunes are fantastic for your digestive system, and they contain a slight amount of iodine.
Although they aren’t as packed with the mineral as potatoes, for example, you can still get 13 mcg of iodine in a serving of five prunes. You’ll also be able to assist your digestive system with regulating itself, which is ideal on a vegan diet.
Bananas are affordable, delicious, and highly accessible throughout the year. They are mostly known for their high levels of potassium, but they are also a source of iodine, though it’s not significant enough to take priority.
On average, a single medium banana can have up to three mcg of iodine, which is less than one percent of the recommended daily intake.
Even though you aren’t likely to use bananas as your only source of minerals, it is a fantastic ingredient to add to your smoothies in the morning for a creamier texture. They’re also a delicious snack that can assist with your energy levels during the day.
As tart as they are, there’s something about cranberries that a lot of people love. Perhaps it’s the fact that they make an excellent mixer for cocktails or that they create a perfect side dish for Thanksgiving. Regardless, cranberries are a fantastic source of iodine, as long as you’re able to stomach the tartness of their flavor.
Four ounces of cranberries can give you up to 400 mcg of iodine, but it’s essential to note that fresh and raw cranberries have the highest concentrations. You won’t want to mix them with sugar or other unhealthy components, as it takes away from their healthiness. Instead, consider boiling them into a juice or a snack that you can have throughout the day.
There isn’t much that corn can bring to the table, aside from the fact that it’s a starch. However, it does have some iodine in it to help you reach your daily limit.
In half a cup of corn, you’ll have 14 mcg of iodine, which isn’t much compared to seaweed, but it’s still something. If you combine corn with one potato, you’ll have 74 mcg of iodine to enjoy in a single sitting.
The Symptoms of Iodine Deficiency
You can guarantee that your body will let you know when it lacks something, whether it’s water, carbohydrates, or iodine. Most often, people with iodine deficiency will experience symptoms that are quite similar to hypothyroidism, which can be uncomfortable and, at times, painful.
Those who live in areas where iodine is lacking in the soil are most susceptible to a deficiency. Southeast and South Asia, as well as Europe and New Zealand, are primary targets for iodine deficiency. Pregnant women, vegans, and vegetarians are also at risk of suffering from these effects.
If you believe you are dealing with the below symptoms of iodine deficiency, it’s best to seek help from your doctor or a nutritionist to improve your levels.
1. Neck Swelling
Also referred to as a goiter, if your neck is swelling, it could be as a result of your thyroid gland becoming larger. When your thyroid is signaled by TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone), it produces thyroid hormones with the use of iodine.
If your body is lacking in iodine, it can’t create enough thyroid hormones, which makes your thyroid work harder than it should. The harder this area of your body has to work, the more the cells will multiply, causing the thyroid to grow, which, in turn, leads to swelling in your neck.
If you have goiter, you could be fortunate enough to remedy the situation by consuming more iodine. More severe cases can cause permanent damage to the thyroid.
2. Fast Weight Gain
Another essential feature of your thyroid is to help moderate your metabolism. Your metabolism is responsible for keeping your body at a healthy weight. When there isn’t enough iodine in your system to support your thyroid, increased weight gain is quite likely.
This event occurs because when the thyroid hormones are low, your body is going to burn fewer calories when it is at rest. The less resting calories you burn, the more likely your food will be to turn into fat.
There are some ways to assist with improving slow metabolism. You may even be able to reverse the effects by only eating more iodine-rich ingredients.
3. Hair Loss
One of the most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid is hair loss, as the thyroid hormones are also responsible for regenerating your hair follicles. When the hormone levels are low, your hair is far more likely to fall out, which can cause substantial hair loss.
As incorrect iodine levels cause the thyroid hormones to fail, you are quite likely to suffer from this effect. A study by the European Journal of Endocrinology found that out of 700 participants with low thyroid hormone levels, 30% experienced substantial hair loss.
4. Difficulty Regulating Temperatures
If you’re someone who frequently feels cold, it could be as a result of an iodine deficiency. The Hippokratia suggests that those with low thyroid hormones could be more sensitive to temperatures.
The central premise behind feeling colder with reduced thyroid levels has to do with your metabolism. Slower metabolisms cause your body to generate less heat, as your food isn’t getting converted into energy as quickly as others. This process, in turn, causes you to feel colder than usual and notably more chilled than the other people around you.
5. Pregnancy Concerns
As earlier mentioned, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to iodine deficiency. This issue arises because when pregnant, you need to consume enough iodine for yourself as well as your baby. Even after pregnancy, while breastfeeding, an iodine deficiency is still of concern.
When you don’t consume enough of this ingredient while pregnant, both yourself and your baby could experience effects. The mother is likely to have an underactive thyroid as well as weakness, fatigue, and possibly a goiter. In infants, this type of deficiency could result in reduced physical growth and stunted brain development.
How to Build Muscle on a Vegan Diet
With the right combination of vitamins and minerals, you’ll be fueling your body to be as efficient as possible. However, what you eat isn’t the only important part of gaining healthy muscle; you’ll need a thorough exercise regime, as well.
Visual Impact Muscle Building is a fantastic resource for vegan and non-vegan fitness enthusiasts alike. It is an online course that specializes in unique training techniques to help you bulk up and create the hardest and fullest muscles possible.
The most exciting part is you get to use whatever form of resistance is your favorite, whether it’s free weights, machines, or your body weight. With the professional advice and tailored techniques in Visual Impact Muscle Building, you’ll achieve your desired physique in far less time than if you were on your own.
Vegan Sources of Iodine: Final Thoughts
It’s easy to see why seaweed is such a miracle food when it comes to finding vegan sources of iodine. As you are unable to consume animal meat and animal products, the two highest sources of iodine, seaweed is the next best thing.
With a combination of the foods on this list, you can guarantee you’ll get your allotted amount of iodine. Just remember, the healthier your thyroid is, the less likely you are to experience the adverse side effects of a deficiency.
It’s also important to note that you need to level up your iodine intake to protect your babies and infants before, during, and after pregnancy. To make the most out of a healthy vegan diet, be sure to check out the Visual Impact Muscle Building program so that you can maintain a healthy and cut physique at all stages of your life.