Iodine deficiency is re-emerging in developed industrialised countries, raising public health concerns, and emphasising the need for supplementation programs and fortification with a source of iodine.
Director General of British Nutrition Foundation, Professor Judy Buttriss states that one-in-five teenage girls and one-in-ten women already have low iodine intakes.
Also recent data published in ‘Nutrients’ has shown that there is low maternal iodine status in pregnant women. This is even in geographic areas that are thought to be iodine sufficient. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy, lactation and childhood (during first two years) is noted by The University of Surrey (UK) and the Hospital de Riotinto (Spain) to have negative cognitive consequences.
Studies have shown that iodine deficiency may lead to irreversible disturbances in the cellular structure of brains cerebral cortex.
It was believed that iodine deficiency was restricted to high-risk conditions and certain geographic areas. However Dr Inés Velasco from the Hospital de Riotinto, says that this is no longer the case. Iodine deficiency now affects numerous countries; including the UK!
A report from the Iodine Global Network says that the UK “now ranks seventh among the ten most iodine-deficient countries on the list.” As well as this, the UK is one of only 2 high income countries in the world with iodine deficiency problems.
A Source of Iodine in Vegan Diets
A source of iodine that is typically consumed in a non-vegan diet is through milk, yoghurt and white fish. However, there is only a limited source of iodine available from vegetables.
Vegan diets can deliver nutrients needed in the body, but this may need more planning and nutritional knowledge to make sure you are getting all the nutrients that you need. With the increasing uptake of vegan and plant based diets, vegans need to be aware of ways to get the essential nutrient iodine into their diets. One way of doing this could be by consuming seaweed.
Why do we need a source of Iodine?
Iodine in used in the thyroid to make thyroid hormones that help to regulate the body’s metabolism and other important functions. These functions include bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. A diet insufficient in iodine can lead to Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) which can lead to hypothyroidism (and the thyroid gland may increase in size in order to extract more iodine from the blood).
The European Union has 6 EU approved health claims linked specifically to the intake of sources of iodine, such as seaweed. Iodine contributes to normal:
- Growth in Children
- Cognitive Function
- Functioning Nervous System
- Thyroid Function
- Energy Yielding Metabolism
- Maintenance of Skin
Seaweed can be a great source of iodine! There are different reports of how safe iodine from seaweed is. For example, Prof. Judy Buttriss in an article in Food Manufacture states that seaweed is an option as a source of iodine, and notes that levels of iodine are variable in different species. This is where Seaweed & Co. comes in!…
Seaweed & Co. supplies Hebridean Ascophyllum seaweed. The levels of iodine of this species are not as high as many of the “kelp” family – which can cause concern with consumers and public health professionals. Our seaweed is well understood and researched by our own Dr Craig Rose (aka Doctor Seaweed®). Seaweed & Co. measure each batch produced so there is a known and standardised iodine level.
Seaweed & Co. is currently leading a project with Innovate UK (the UK’s Innovation Agency), University of Glasgow and nutritional pizza company Eat Balanced. The project is investigating using our seaweed in pizzas and other products as a safe and natural source of iodine.
For more information on seaweed as a source of iodine, and how seaweed can benefit you, please get in touch to discuss further.