Iodine is a mineral needed for your thyroid to work properly. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. It makes hormones that help regulate your weight, body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It also helps babies' bones and brains develop properly.
Your body can't make or store iodine, so you can only get it from what you eat. Both too little and too much iodine can cause a goiter, or swollen thyroid. Too little can also make you lethargic and mentally fuzzy; too much can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and even cancer.
How Much Is Enough?
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people ages 14 and older need 150 micrograms of iodine daily — that's about half a teaspoon of iodized salt. Pregnant and breast-feeding women need 220 to 290 micrograms daily, respectively; newborns need 110 micrograms; and infants 7 to 12 months need 130 micrograms. Kids up to 8 years old need 90 micrograms daily, and those ages 9 to 13 need 120 micrograms.
Seafood and sea vegetables like kelp, along with dairy products and enriched breads and pastas, are top sources of iodine.
If you're ready to hit the kitchen, here are some suggestions for tasty, iodine-rich dishes.
A large egg contains about 23 micrograms of iodine, which is 16 percent of the daily recommended amount for an adult.
Baked eggs are an easy, creamy comfort food. Try this recipe for an easy and delicious breakfast or brunch for one; with a few ingredient substitutions, it’s also versatile enough to make an appearance at the dinner table. You could also make a batch of hard-boiled eggs to take to work for a small but filling office snack.
Turkey's not just for the holidays. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a 3-ounce serving of baked turkey breast (about the size of a deck of cards) contains 34 micrograms of iodine, which is about 23 percent of the daily recommended amount for an adult.
This festive salad recipe, with its fruits and nuts, can put a creative and colorful spin on leftovers. Atop lettuce it makes a delicious light meal any time of the year. It also makes a wonderful sandwich filling.
A 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains about 35 micrograms of iodine, which is roughly 23 percent of the daily recommended amount for an adult.
Fried shrimp are an American favorite, but the saturated fats from frying aren't. Follow this recipe and bake them instead — it’s full of crunch, but the healthy kind. The citrus-y dip will be a hit at any pre-game party.
Cod is an iodine powerhouse, packing 99 micrograms into a 3-ounce serving. That's about two-thirds of the daily recommended amount for an adult.
Fish sticks are beloved by kids (and many adults too) but commercially prepared ones can be high in fats and sodium. Fortunately, it’s easy to make them yourself. Try this recipe — the tangy avocado dip is a fun (and healthy) alternative to ketchup or tartar sauce.
Frozen yogurt is a smart sweet for those looking to cut fat and calories from their diets. Regular yogurt is also a smart choice for those looking to boost their iodine consumption. One cup has 75 micrograms, about half the daily recommended amount for an adult.
You can make your own frozen yogurt treats at home with this recipe. Packed with fresh fruit, this recipe could prove to be a favorite for the whole family.
Baked potatoes are an excellent source of iodine, as long as you eat the skins too. One medium potato contains 60 micrograms of iodine, which is 40 percent of the daily recommended amount for an adult.
If you want something different, try turning your spuds into soup by following this recipe. Creamy and crunch (thanks to the skin), it’s comfort food times two!
Tuna is an excellent source of iodine. Just 3 ounces of it (less than your average can) contains about 17 micrograms, which is 11 percent of an adult’s daily intake.
Tuna salad sandwiches make for a good work lunch, but let's face it: sometimes you just want some comfort food. Casseroles with a cream of mushroom base — a staple of 1950s cuisine — are retro-cool now. This recipe cuts the fat, along with the calories, and boosts the nutritional ante with broccoli and tuna.