When you're a vegan, you always hear about your protein and iron, iron and protein. Like daily, on repeat. There are several vegan protein and iron sources that make it easy peasy lemon squeezy to make sure you're getting enough of both. But there's one nutrient as a vegan that's easy to get deficient in, and that's iodine.
Let's look at the some of food sources of iodine.
Here's a small list:
-Baked Potatoes (skin on)
-Milk and yogurt
-Iodized table salt
This is just small list, but you can see that overwhelmingly, the list is suited best for omnivores and both lacto and ovo vegetarians. Fruits and vegetables can contain iodine too, but it's so hard to determine how much since that depends on the level in the soil, which varies place to place. Aside from that, there's a few sources for vegans on this list, seaweed being the best one and one of the best sources out there in general. But guess who hates seaweed? This girl. Guess who only eats cranberries at Thanksgiving? This girl. Guess who doesn't eat the potato skins because she finds the texture weird? This girl. Guess who seldomly eats white beans because black beans are her go to? This girl. Guess who only uses sea salt, for both cooking and when choosing snacks, and not iodized table salt? This girl. Guess who hasn't been taking her vitamins in months? This girl. Guess who probably needs to do some work on her iodine levels? Yup, you guessed it, this girl.
I recently got blood work done and my thyroid levels are borderline low. What does iodine and thyroid have to do with each other? Turns out, a lot.
I like to refer to myself as Dr. Ashley Ronan, Google MD. I didn't know too much about the thyroid prior to this since it was never something I really concerned myself with, since no one in my family has thyroid issues. Ever since finding out my levels are kinda low, I've spent hours upon hours researching the wonderful world of the Internet, and I've learned a lot. Instinctively, of course, my first reaction was panic. There's quite a few causes of low thyroid levels, and whatever the worst ones are, I'm convinced that's what I have. (Thank you, anxiety.) But the one that really stood out was the iodine, which those levels don't show up on blood work. There's a urine test for that, which my doctor didn't request I do yet. He told me to continue my vitamins (which he didn't know at the time meant start taking them again,) and get my blood retested in three months.
You need iodine in your body to produce the thyroid hormone. Too much or too little in your diet can cause hypothyroidism (underactive) or hyperthyroidism (overactive). Both have different symptoms. Sometimes, you have no symptoms at all. Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms such as: fatigue, slow heart rate, depression, weight gain, skin dryness, constipation, fibromyalgia, and irregular periods to name a few. This is the one my blood work would say I have. Hyperthyroidism can cause essentially the exact opposite of symptoms, such as: increased heart rate, dizziness, anxiety, mood swings, weight loss, diarrhea, and light or missed periods to name a few. If anything, hyperthyroidism has my name written all over it going by symptoms alone. Treatment is essential regardless of which type you may have. They can be diet related, or something you'll have to deal with long term, perhaps even your whole life.
With everything being so uncertain in regards to my results, my anxiety is super high. But, I've gotta try something. And, if it is iodine related, I'm taking steps to counteract that.
Here's what I've been doing:
-Taking my vitamins every single day. My DEVA brand vegan vitamins contain 50% of the RDA for iodine, so that's half the battle.
-Despite my distaste for iodized salt, I bought some. This was the smallest size they had, and it came with pepper. I'm a brat, and only eat fresh cracked pepper. But the only other option was a family sized salt. No one needs all that salt. But, I figure I can do a grind of my sea salt and a dash of that salt when necessary, so I get the flavor and texture I prefer but I'm still getting iodine at the same time.
-I bought dried seaweed snacks. They're sea salt flavored (of course they are,) and I know I wouldn't eat them alone. I tried them alone just to see, SO GROSS. So, I decided I could smoosh them in my hummus (which is white bean hummus, by the way! Bonus iodine points!) and cucumber sandwich I have for lunch. Hopefully it'll mask the texture and taste of the seaweed.
Have you guys ever thought about your iodine intake? Until this, I literally never even thought of it. What's your go to sources for iodine?