Iodine is an essential trace element that helps regulate hormone and cell production. Having an iodine deficiency is a severe health condition that is unfortunately common, especially among vegan dieters. Learn more about this vital mineral and how to consume enough of it on a plant-based diet.
What is Iodine?
Iodine is an oft-forgotten but incredibly essential trace mineral – most table salt contains iodine, and people round out their iodine intake naturally with a diet high in fish, seafood, dairy, and eggs. While we fortify dairy and salt with added iodine, you can also source this mineral naturally. Vegans aren’t going to consume fish and other animal products anytime soon, but there are plenty of lesser-known plant-based sources of iodine.
Vegan Iodine Rich Foods
- Nori (or Laver)
- Green beans
- Navy beans
- Lima beans
- Iodized salt
How Does a Vegan Get Iodine?
Now that we know exactly how much iodine we should be getting daily, let’s dive into what vegan foods with iodine you should be consuming daily.
Seaweed is overwhelmingly the best source of iodine for vegans, with varieties like wakame, dulse, and nori containing between 40 and 60 mcg of iodine in one single sheet. But there’s a catch: the availability of iodine from sea vegetables and seaweed can vary greatly, and kelp specifically should be consumed in moderation, as its iodine content per bag is high enough to cover your needs for five whole years!
Not a fan of the fishy taste and smell of seaweed? Other vegan sources of iodine include fruits like prunes and strawberries, as well as some types of beans. The amount of iodine you’ll find in these foods, however, largely depends on the iodine content of the soil and on any fertilizer that was used.
Do Vegans Need Iodized Salt?
Salt is considered a leading dietary killer, worldwide. Excessive sodium intake has been linked to dangerous conditions such as hypertension, kidney stones, and even heart disease.
If we are striving to become our healthiest selves, watching our sodium intake is a must — the iodine content of iodized salt shouldn’t be the only deciding factor when you’re out for your grocery shop, especially when you can find iodine in foods that are much better for your overall health. Getting your iodine from seaweed or supplementation should be the preferred choice for health-minded vegans.
Do Vegans Need an Iodine Supplement?
If the sound of having to eat seaweed regularly has already scared you off and if you are keen to watch your salt intake as a healthy vegan, then an iodine supplement like ours will be the ideal choice for getting your optimal amount of iodine. Investing in a good-quality supplement will ensure you are getting just enough to thrive and support your thyroid hormones, while at the same time avoiding taking too much iodine and running into toxicity issues.
What sources of iodine you’ll pick are ultimately up to you, of course. Getting the majority of your nutrients from whole food plant-based sources like seaweed will always be the best option, but nobody can deny the convenience of supplementation to get the job done, especially with tricky (but crucial) minerals like iodine!