The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck just below the Adam's apple. It is responsible for growth and development ... The thyroid gland is located at the front of the neck just below the Adam's apple. It is responsible for growth and development and energy metabolism. It produces three main hormones that help regulate metabolism.

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The Thyroid Gland

The thyroid sits just below the Adam's apple and is a highly important endocrine (secrete's hormones) gland. It secretes three types of thyroid hormones, which for the purpose of this introduction, do not need to be named or specified. To keep things simple, these hormones are responsible for how much energy we use for basic functions such as digesting food, breathing, heart beating and thinking. 

Importantly, dietary iodine (an essential mineral) only known function is the synthesis of these thyroid hormones. In other words, it is the raw material or precursor for hormone synthesis and secretion (Source: NCBI). Hopefully, this illustrates iodines importance in the diet. 

(Source: Otolaryngology)

Too much thyroid hormone can lead to weight loss, increased heart rate and fatigue. Too little can result in weight gain, slow speech, and dry skin amongst other things. Like most nutrients, we do not want too little or too much, rather just enough to support normal thyroid function (Source: NCBI). 

Dietary Iodine

The first obvious question is how much dietary iodine do we need per day? For both males and females over the age of 14 years old, the recommended intake is 150 μg/day.

Iodine is naturally found in foods such as fish, seafood, dairy products, fortified grains and iodized salt. It is not a common supplement due to universally fortified table salt. Despite most first world countries being sufficient in iodine, supplementation may be of benefit to those who do not consume any seafood, dairy products or have minimal dietary intake.

Interestingly seaweed is a significantly better source than fish (Source: NCBI). Although some seaweed products are so high that they are considered excessive and may put one above the tolerable upper limit (600 μg) of iodine. 

If you are a healthy individual consuming a balanced diet there is really no research we are aware of that supports supplementation. If you do supplement iodine is readily excreted and blood levels are regulated tightly. 

Who is at Risk?

The obvious answer is those who do not consume fortified salt or iodine-containing foods which we named in the previous section. So, what population groups are they? 

Vegan/vegetarians who avoid processed food entirely (i.e., no salt), never add salt to meals or consumes enriched/fortified foods with iodine. This can also apply to those who consume meat/mixed diet if they do not consume fish and follow similar principles to the ones laid out above.

Finally, any individual who follows these practices which leaves them at risk of consuming insufficient iodine.

As always consult your healthcare professional to run a blood test if you think you may be at risk of iodine deficiency. If deficient follow supplementation advice, if any, from your doctor. 

Want to learn more?

Here at Plent, we are different than most other supplement retailers out there. We are committed to consumer education and empowerment, brand transparency and quality assurance of all our own supplements. For this reason, we want all our customers to have a full and rounded understanding of the world of supplementation. If you would like to read more about Immune function from the experts, check out the links below:

  1. Video
    1. Endocrinology | Thyroid Overview
    2. How does the thyroid manage your metabolism? - Emma Bryce
  2. Written
    1. Iodine-induced thyroid dysfunction
    2. Iodine- Fact Sheet for Consumers
  3. Audio
    1. SNR #33: Dr. Karl Nadolsky – Understanding Testosterone, Thyroid & Adrenal Function
    2. 397: Can Normal Thyroid Function Return by Avoiding Iodine With Dr. Alan Christianson