Zoe Bingley-Pullin discusses the potential health dangers of Iodine deficiency

By Zoe Bingley-Pullin, Nutrition Expert


Did you know that at least one billion people in the world are at risk of iodine deficiency?  So we asked Zoe Bingley-Pullin, our Nutrition Expert how much iodine we really need in our daily diet, and the best ways to increase our intake of this vital mineral.

What are the health benefits of iodine?

Iodine is an acidic non-metallic micro-mineral essential to humans. It helps aid the production of a healthy thyroid gland.

It’s an integral part of thyroxine, which is a hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Iodine is intricately involved with the thyroid gland. Twenty percent of the body’s Iodine concentrates in the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism, which is an under-active thyroid, may occur as a result of iodine deficiency and people with hypothyroidism may benefit from doses of supplemental Iodine.  

Iodine helps regulate the body’s production of energy though cellular oxidation, helping stimulate the rate of metabolism and will help burn excessive fats. Mentality, speech, hair, nails, skin and teeth are all dependant on a well functioning thyroid gland.


Who benefits the most of iodine in their diet?

At least one billion people in the world are at risk of iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency constitutes one of the most common preventable causes of mental deficiency in the world today. Most of the affected populations live in mountainous areas in preindustrialised countries, but 50 to 100 million people are still at risk in Europe.  

The most important groups are pregnant mothers, fetuses and young infants because the main complication of iodine deficiency, i.e., brain damage resulting in irreversible mental retardation, is the consequence of thyroid failure occurring during pregnancy, foetal and early postnatal life.

What is the recommended daily intake of iodine?

The recommended daily allowances (RDAs) of Iodine in Australia are:

•    150 micrograms (men)

•    120 micrograms (women)

•    150 micrograms (women during Pregnancy)

•    200 micrograms (women during Lactation)

The minimum daily dietary requirement for Iodine is 75 mcg, which is half of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 150 mcg per day.

The optimal daily allowance (ODA) of Iodine (for adults) is 225 mcg per day:

Taking into account the normal intake of Iodine from foods, some researchers recommend an amount of 100 mcg per day of supplemental Iodine to reach this ODA.

Is the iodine supplement in bread enough to reach our daily intake?

All commercially sold breads contain iodine, but it is not enough for specific requirements such as the above. It is important for all people to eat a healthy diet with a large variety of different healthy foods this will reduce the chances of deficiencies.

What other food contain iodine?

Kelp, cod and iodised salt are all extremely high in iodine.

Other foods that contain iodine are cheddar cheese, milk, butter, eggs, pineapple, mushrooms ginsengs, pork, liver (beef),  sea salt, peanuts, haddock, herring, whiting, clams, salmon, sardines, tuna (canned), onions, spinach, tomato, carrot, watercress, garlic, radish, cabbage, lettuce and fennel.

Expert tip:
Pasteurisation destroys approximately 20 percent of the Iodine content of pasteurised foods.

What can be the negative health effects?

You should not exceed 2,000mcg as this will cause overdoes or toxicity.

Excessive consumption of iodine can cause the production of free radicals this is due to its involvement as a pro-oxidant in the energy production process.

Excess iodine may also cause hypothyroidism and can reduce the intake of thyroxine, although the correct dose will help hypothyroidism and thyroxine, therefore the correct dose is vital.  

Zoe strongly recommends you read this article:

Iodine: the newest ingredient in bread, released by ABC News.

For more information on Zoe’s nutrition practice and details of her cooking classes, go to www.nutritionaledge.com.au/index.html


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