Iodine, Schmiodine?

Seaweed is a rich source of iodine

Seaweed is a rich source of iodine

In this first of a series of blog posts on the benefits of iodine in our diets, we introduce the topic and link to two articles on the subject.

You may not know or care too much about iodine, one of the lesser known halogens in the periodic table. So-called from the Greek work mean violet-coloured (in its natural state), it's actually an essential element for the existence of life and is the heaviest element commonly needed by living organisms like us.

Iodine naturally exists in seaweed and the European Food Safety Authority has authorised a number of health claims based on the scientific evidence available. As well as contributing to the normal production of thyroid hormones and normal thyroid function, iodine also has associated health claims linked to contributing to normal cognitive function, normal energy-yielding metabolism, normal functioning of the nervous system, the maintenance of normal skin and normal growth in children (EFSA: EU Register of Nutrition and Health Claims).

This doesn't mean you can simply head down to your beach and eat a mouthful of two of the nearest marine vegetable, however. We humans are delicate things and there are recommended lower limits and upper limits for daily iodine intake. Moving outside these limits increases your risk of thyroid problems. To be precise, the lower tolerable intake of this vital element is 70μg (where a μg is a microgram, or 1 millionth of a gram) and the upper tolerable intake is 600μg.

Fortunately, the scientists behind smRt foods have spent a long time in R&D ('research & development') to get the right blend of seaweeds for adding in the right quantities to your food so that you get the full benefits within your recommended daily allowance. Don't simply take our word for it, however. There's quite a bit already written on this topic. Here we touch on a couple of examples.

Penny Crowther is a London-based nutritional therapist. In this article she lists some of the potential symptoms of iodine deficiency. Penny then explores iodine deficiency in more detail, before extolling the virtues of seaweed as a good, but underused, source of iodine. Penny closes with a helpful list of the dietary sources for iodine, together with the quantity of their iodine content.

In March 2018, the website referenced a study by the Universities of Surry in the UK and Riotinto in Huelva, Spain, warning that iodine deficiency was no longer just a third-world issue. The study advocates raising public health awareness of the risks of iodine deficiency in industrialised countries, especially the more vulnerable population groups like pregnant women and children under the age of 2.

It seems we can't ignore either the benefits of iodine or risks of not getting enough of it into our daily diet. For some suggestions on how you can introduced iodine-rich seaweed into your meals, without the seaweed taste, head across to our recipes page, or get in touch