Iodine

Nutrient Library: Iodine

Iodine:

  • What does it do?
  • How much do you need?
  • What are the best food sources?
  • What happens if you don't get enough?
  • What happens if you get too much?

What does it do?
Iodine is an essential constituent of your thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism (the rate at which your body uses energy). Iodine is a key player in many biochemical reactions that affect heart rate, respiratory rate and a wide variety of other physiological activities.

How much do you need?
The following table lists the recommended intake for healthy people based on current scientific information.

Life Stage Group Recommended Dietary Allowance/Adequate Intake Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)
Infants (micrograms/day) (micrograms/day)
0-6 mo.
7-12 mo.
*110
*130
Not determinable for infants due to lack of data on adverse effects in this age group and concern about inability to handle excess amounts. Source should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake.
Children
1-3 y
4-8 y
90
90
200
300
Males
9-13 y
14-18 y
19-30 y
31-50 y
51-70 y
> 70 y
120
150
150
150
150
150
600
900
1,100
1,100
1,100
1,100
Females
9-13 y
14-18 y
19-30 y
31-50 y
51-70 y
> 70 y
120
150
150
150
150
150
600
900
1,100
1,100
1,100
1,100
Pregnancy
< 18 y
19-30 y
31-50 y
220
220
220
900
1,100
1,100
Lactation
< 18 y
19-30 y
31-50 y
290
290
290
900
1,100
1,100

NOTE: The table is adapted from the Dietary Reference Intakes reports. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), when available, are in bold type; Adequate Intakes (AIs) are followed by an asterisk(*). RDAs and AIs may both be used as goals for individual intake. RDAs are set to meet the needs of almost all individuals (97 to 98 percent) in a group. For healthy breastfed infants, the AI is the mean intake. The AI for other life stage and gender groups is believed to cover the needs of all individuals in the group, but lack of data means the percentage of individuals covered by this intake cannot be specified with confidence.

UL = The maximum level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects. Unless otherwise specified, the UL represents total intake from food, water and supplements.

What are the best food sources?
The iodine content in foods varies widely due to soil content, irrigation and fertilizer. It is usually low in areas that are eroded or are distant from oceans, the source of most of the world's iodine. Seafood and seaweed are rich natural sources. Processed foods may contain higher levels due to the addition of iodized salt or other additives containing iodine (e.g., calcium iodate). In the United States, iodized salt is widely available. However, salt is not required to be iodized. One-fourth of a teaspoon of iodized table salt contains about 100 micrograms of iodine.

What happens if you don't get enough?
Due to the widespread use of iodized salt, deficiency is rare in the United States. However, iodine deficiency affects millions of people worldwide and is identified as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world. Major international efforts are currently under way to reverse and prevent this problem. Iodine deficiency disease (IDD) results in a range of symptoms from mild to severe including goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland and usually the earliest sign), mental retardation, hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone), and varying degrees of growth and development abnormalities.

What happens if you get too much?
Individuals can tolerate a wide range of iodine intakes because the thyroid gland regulates the body's level of this mineral. Acute intakes-those ingested over a short time period-can cause burning of the mouth, throat and stomach; fever; gastrointestinal illness, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; a weak pulse; and coma. In iodine-sufficient populations, chronic intakes at levels above the tolerable upper intake level (UL) have the following adverse effects: goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland), hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone), hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).

Recipes

Honey-Mustard Turkey Cutlets & Potatoes
Potatoes, leeks and turkey burst with intense flavor when roasted with honey, mustard and curry. Serve with: Steamed snow peas and carrots and a glass of white wine.

Makes 4 servings

ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

  • 3 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Place sliced leeks in a colander; rinse and drain well. Toss the leeks, potatoes, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, honey, mustard and curry powder in a small bowl until smooth. Sprinkle both sides of cutlets with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  4. Reduce heat to 400°F. Toss the leeks and potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the honey-mustard sauce. Place the cutlets on top of the vegetables and spread the remaining sauce over the cutlets. Return to the oven and bake until the turkey is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes more.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 359 calories; 8 g fat (1 g sat, 4 g mono); 45 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 3 g fiber; 551 mg sodium; 615 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (50% daily value), Iron & Vitamin A (20% dv). 3 Carbohydrate Servings. Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 4 lean meat.

Herb & Onion Frittata
This Italian-style omelet is delicious with just about any herb combination; try parsley, dill, chervil or marjoram.

Makes 1 serving

ACTIVE TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water, divided
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons farmer's cheese or reduced-fat ricotta
  1. Bring onion and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the onion is slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the water has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle in oil and stir until coated. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to brown, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  2. Pour in egg substitute, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the egg is starting to set, about 20 seconds. Continue cooking, lifting the edges so the uncooked egg will flow underneath, until mostly set, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle herbs, salt and pepper over the frittata. Spoon cheese on top. Lift up an edge of the frittata and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon water under it. Cover and cook until the egg is completely set and the cheese is hot, about 2 minutes. Slide the frittata out of the pan using the spatula and serve.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 192 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 10 mg cholesterol; 17 g carbohydrate; 15 g protein; 3 g fiber; 527 mg sodium; 339 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (20% daily value). Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 2 very lean meat, 1 fat. 1 Carbohydrate Serving.

More Healthy Egg Recipes and Cooking Tips

Puerto Rican Fish Stew (Bacalao)
Bacalao, salted dried codfish, is the defining ingredient in traditional Puerto Rican fish stew, but salt cod requires overnight soaking and several rinses in cool water before it can be used, so we opt for fresh fish in this quick version. Serve with crusty rolls to soak up the juices.

Makes 4 servings, about 1 cup each

ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound flaky white fish, such as haddock, tilapia or cod (see Tip), cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Anaheim or poblano chile pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water, as needed
  • 1 avocado, chopped (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  2. Add fish, tomatoes and their juices, chile pepper, cilantro, olives, capers, oregano and salt; stir to combine. Add up to 1/2 cup water if the mixture seems dry. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature, garnished with avocado (if using).

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 215 calories; 9 g fat (1 g sat, 6 g mono); 65 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 23 g protein; 2 g fiber; 697 mg sodium; 475 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (70% daily value), Iron & Vitamin A (15% dv). 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving. Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat.

Tip: Opt for firmer hook-and-line-caught haddock or U.S.-farmed tilapia. Pacific cod also works, but will be more flaky.

More Healthy Fish Recipes

From www.eatingwell.com with permission. © 2008 Eating Well Inc.

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