Vegan power, but what about iodine?

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Introduction – Iodine: A Hidden Hero

Imagine you’re a superhero. Your superpower? Helping the body make energy and grow properly. That’s exactly what iodine does!

It’s like a tiny superhero living in our food. But there’s a catch – our body doesn’t make iodine, so we need to eat it.

But what if the foods that have iodine, like fish and milk, aren’t on your menu? That’s the case for vegans and vegetarians. Let’s dive into this iodine mystery.

Iodine 101

Iodine is a mineral, something our body needs to stay healthy. Its major role is in the thyroid gland – a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that controls how our body uses energy.

To do its job, the thyroid needs iodine. That’s why it’s so important for us to eat foods with iodine.

The Challenge for Vegans and Vegetarians

Vegans and vegetarians eat a diet that’s full of fruits, vegetables, beans, grains, and nuts.

Vegans don’t eat any animal products at all, including milk and eggs, while vegetarians avoid meat but may eat dairy products and eggs.

These diets are excellent for the planet and can be very healthy. But both these diets often lack foods that are rich in iodine, like fish and dairy products.

Scientists to the Rescue!

Because it’s so important to get enough iodine, scientists decided to investigate. They took a closer look at a bunch of studies that focused on how much iodine vegans and vegetarians get from their diet.

These studies were published between October 2020 and December 2022.

The Findings – A Puzzle Piece

The scientists checked 11 different studies, which included information from 4421 adults. They discovered that the vegans had the lowest levels of iodine in their bodies.

And here’s the thing – if our bodies don’t have enough iodine, it can cause health problems.

According to the World Health Organization, there’s a specific amount of iodine that should be in our bodies to be healthy.

The scientists also found that vegans ate the least amount of iodine. Why is this a big deal? Well, remember, our bodies can’t make iodine.

So, we need to get it from the foods we eat. If we don’t eat enough iodine-rich food, we can’t get enough of it in our bodies.

What’s Influencing Our Iodine Intake?

The scientists found that a few things affected how much iodine vegans and vegetarians got.

This included whether the person was a boy or girl, whether the country they lived in added iodine to salt (a process called “iodization”), and whether the country generally had enough iodine in the food supply.

What Now? The Next Step

So, what’s the takeaway here? People who eat vegan or vegetarian diets need to make sure they’re getting enough iodine. Especially if they live in a place where iodine isn’t added to salt.

Maybe this could mean eating foods that have added iodine, or taking a supplement.

Scientists still need to do more research to figure out the best way for vegans and vegetarians to get enough iodine.

But one thing’s for sure: with a little planning and awareness, vegans and vegetarians can continue to power up with a healthy diet and enough iodine to boot!

The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

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