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Goitre Have More Iodine

17 Apr 2008 8:27 PM -

Iodine is a chemical element that is required for growth and survival. It is found in varying amounts in plants and animals, and the quantity we obtain from plants depends on the concentration of iodine in the soils in which they were grown. The richest natural food sources of iodine are seafood and seaweed (such as kelp and nori), because the ocean is a rich source of iodine. Iodine levels in other foods of animal origin (eggs, meat, dairy) are lower than in seafoods, but higher than in most foods of plant origin. Several areas in Australia and New Zealand have soils that are low in iodine and research shows that mild iodine deficiency may be a widespread problem in the general population. Iodised salt is one of the most common sources of iodine in the Western diet.

Iodine’s most important function is as a component of thyroid hormones, which play a vital role in the regulation of metabolic processes such as growth and energy expenditure. These hormones are essential throughout childhood for normal brain and physical development. They are also critical for normal development of the baby in the womb, so adequate dietary iodine intake in pregnant and breastfeeding women is essential. The recommended daily intake (RDI) for iodine depends on age and life stage:

  • Young children (<8 yrs)      -           90mcg
  • Older children (9-13 yrs)     -           120mcg
  • Adolescents (14-18 yrs)      -           150mcg
  • Adults (both genders)         -           150mcg
  • Pregnancy                            -           220mcg
  • Breastfeeding                       -           270mcg

What is Iodine Deficiency Disorder?

Lack of sufficient iodine in the diet can prevent the thyroid gland from making hormones. The thyroid enlarges as it attempts to comply with the pituitary glands demands to maintain thyroid hormone production. An enlarged thyroid is known as a goitre. Ultimately the thyroid can fail to produce enough thyroid hormone, resulting in underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism. In the developing foetus, baby and young child, the effects of iodine deficiency are serious. They include stunted growth, diminished intelligence and intellectual disability. Iodine deficiency is the commonest cause worldwide of preventable intellectual disability in children.

Iodine supplements

Iodine supplementation may be an important source for those who do not eat seafoods, animal flesh, iodised salt, or those with an increased iodine requirement (such as pregnant or breastfeeding women). Iodine tablets are available, but exposure to extremely high levels of iodine (>1000mcg/day) is potentially harmful. Many standard multivitamin tablets supply 100-150mcg of iodine. With salt intake an issue for many, iodine is now being added to more widely consumed and healthier foods. In various states, trials are being undertaken where iodine is being added to flour, bread and dairy products. For further information about iodine supplements, consult your local doctor or an accredited practicing dietician (APD).