Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Iodine commonly found in foods

Iodine's another reason to eat fish

Element is essential for thyroid function

Iodine is an essential element that we need in very tiny amounts.

The body obtains iodine from food and stores it in the thyroid, where it is used for manufacturing the thyroid hormone. Once its job is done, the remaining iodine is filtered by the kidneys and removed.

Both vitamin A and selenium are important for the body's efficient absorption of iodine; if there is not enough of these nutrients in your diet, you may be making too little thyroid hormone.

A lack of iodine in the diet can impair the workings of the thyroid gland and cause lethargy, weight gain, cold extremities and poor concentration.

How Much Do I Need?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of iodine is:

- Children ages one to eight: 90 micrograms (mcg)

- Children ages nine to 13: 120 mcg

- Teens to adults: 150 mcg

- Pregnancy: 220 mcg

- Breastfeeding: 290 mcg

Most multivitamin supplements provide from 100 to 150 mcg of iodine, which is particularly important during pregnancy for the mother and her developing baby.

The upper daily limit of iodine for adults is 1,100 mcg. Too much iodine can overstimulate the thyroid and cause anxiety, insomnia and weight loss.

Where Do I Find It?

Fish, shellfish and seaweeds are our only major sources of iodine; the amounts in other foods depend on the iodine content of the soil in which crops are grown or on which animals graze.

Most table salt has added iodine, though as people are becoming more aware of the dangers of excessive salt, this may become a less valuable source. Processed and packaged foods have higher iodine contents because of the added iodized salt. If you use sea salt it will contain some iodine, but most of the iodine is lost during the drying process.

Kelp, a type of seaweed, contains a very high amount of iodine. Taking kelp as a supplement can therefore increase your risk of iodine toxicity and can interfere with the activity of your thyroid gland.

Certain vegetables such as raw cabbage, spinach, turnips, kale and some medications can also interfere with the body's absorption of iodine.

Fantastic Shrimp

1 tbsp (15 mL) lime juice

½ tsp (2 mL) pepper

1 tsp (5 mL) paprika

1.5lb (750g) shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup (125 mL) parsley, chopped

1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder

1 tsp (5 mL) thyme

¼ tsp (1 mL) red pepper flakes

½ cup (125 mL) chicken broth

Combine lime juice, pepper and paprika. Toss with shrimp. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over low-medium heat. Add oil, onion, garlic, parsley, curry, thyme and red pepper flakes. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and chicken broth. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and set aside. Boil sauce and reduce by half. Return shrimp to sauce and heat through.

Makes 4 servings.

Samara Felesky-Hunt is a registered dietitian at the Downtown Sports Clinics.

Her column app ears weekly; she can be reached at

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