The Essentials Benefits Of Iodine

For Optimal Thyroid Function And Brain Health

By: Mia Syn

"Salt is bad for our health," is the nutritional dogma that has been largely engrained in us—and it holds some truth. Sodium, a component of salt, has a direct effect on blood pressure and too much can lead to greater strain on the heart, kidneys and the brain while raising your risk for heart disease. However, there is a component in today’s common table salt that is essential for women’s health linked to thyroid function, metabolism and mental capacity and that is the nutrient known as Iodine. Contrary to popular belief, this essential mineral can largely be found in food other than commonly associated table salt and seeking out those sources can be greatly beneficial.


Thyroid Health and Metabolism

Iodine is an element that the body cannot make and thus must come from the diet. It is a key component of the hormones made in the thyroid gland that help control energy production and utilization in nearly every cell of the body. The thyroid extracts iodine and incorporates it into the thyroid hormone structure. These hormones help regulate metabolism—your body's ability to break down food and convert it to energy.

Dietary iodine is 75-80% concentrated in the thyroid gland located in the neck and maintaining its balance is key. Too much or too little can slow down the production of hormones leading to Hyperthyroidism associated with increased appetite and sensitivity to heat or Hypothyroidism often characterized by having little appetite, a sensitivity to cold and a feeling of sluggishness.

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Brain Health and Brain fog

While iodine is recognized for having profound effects on aiding brain growth and development in the early stages of life, it is found that those deficiencies may affect the brains of adults, as well. In adults, hypothyroidism may result in slower response times and impaired mental function. These effects may be attributed to the shrinking hippocampus in the state of thyroid hormone deficiency, the part of the brain associated with memory and emotion. 

Food Sources

Iodine is abundant in soils but solubility leads to wide regional variations. Iodine-deficient areas include the Himalayas, Andes, Alps, Atlas and river delta area. While traditionally, many Americans obtain iodine from salt that has been supplemented, this mineral is found naturally in a variety of whole food sources. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 150 micrograms/d for adults, which is easy to meet when you are aware of iodine sources like those listed below and implement them into your diet.



Some foods contain goitrogens, substances that may interfere with iodine utilization or thyroid hormone production. Sources include cruciferous vegetables—broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cassava and millet. That isn’t to say that you should neglect these foods entirely. In fact, these are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in our reach. In the context of a balanced diet, their goitrogenic effects are not profound. However, it is important to be wary of them if you are someone with a previously diagnosed thyroid problems or an iodine deficiency.


Maintaining the balance of iodine in the diet is essential for women’s health. Seeking out these natural sources of iodine will help keep your thyroid function at an optimum and brain health in check. For more information on iodine, visit my website below!




     Mia Syn

Mia holds a master's degree in nutritional science from Columbia University. She is passionate about sharing timely, evidence-based nutrition and debunking misinformation in this dynamic and relevant field. She values making nutrition tangible for women to seamlessly implement into their lives.