The increasing popularity of the vegan or plant-based diet has led many people to question whether there’s merit to nixing meat for nuts, soy and beans. A plant-based diet has been shown to be better for your heart health, your metabolism and can help to prevent many diseases, like diabetes and cancer.
But like any good thing, there are drawbacks.
For vegans, possible nutritional deficiencies are a big one. There are several notable deficiencies to watch out for (which we talk all about in our Plant-Based Diet eBook, which you can grab here, for free!) but iodine deficiency is a sneaky, common issue that can cause major health problems.
Iodine is a tricky mineral for vegans to consume in adequate amounts. In fact, studies indicate that vegans have up to 50% lower blood iodine levels than vegetarians.
So the million-dollar question is: can you really get enough iodine from plant-based sources?
We’d love to tell you that vegans are superhuman and immune to iodine deficiency, but we can’t, because countless studies prove vegans are the most at-risk.
How Much Iodine Do I Need to Eat Daily?
The RDA for adults is 150 mcg of iodine per day. Pregnant women should aim for 220 mcg per day, and breastfeeding women should increase their daily intake to 290 mcg. Talk to your doctor about getting a blood test to check iodine levels before supplementing on your own.
Sources of Iodine
If you’re looking to supplement your diet with iodine-rich foods naturally, these are what you should be eating:
- Animal-Based: Seafood, dairy, liver and eggs.
- Plant-Based: Seaweed, iodized salt, prunes, enriched bread and lima beans.
Why You Need Iodine & Signs of Deficiency
As an essential nutrient—which means your body doesn’t produce it—it’s imperative that you get enough iodine from your diet. Iodine plays a leading role in thyroid production, so without ample supply from your diet, you run the risk of developing hypothyroidism. Iodine is also vital for pregnant women, as iodine helps prevent birth defects.
Again, if you want to learn more about essential nutrients and the symptoms of deficiency, check out our plant-based guide!
If you think you may not be getting enough iodine from your diet, these are the signs to watch out for: low energy, tingling in the hands and feet, forgetfulness, depression, hair loss, feeling cold, dry skin and weight gain.
Are You Getting Enough Iodine?
It’s irrefutable; there are many positives to adopting a plant-based diet, but it should also come with a caution to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals.
Essential nutrients, like iodine, are critical to maintaining good health so if you can’t eat enough natural sources of these micronutrients, then consult a doctor before turning to supplementation,