Iodine is a trace element crucial to growth and development. We need iodine to support the thyroid gland's production of key hormones that regulate cellular metabolism and detoxification. The American Thyroid Association estimates that 40 percent of the world is at risk for iodine deficiency due to soil depletion, reduced intake of iodine-rich foods, and increased exposure to chemicals that inhibit iodine absorption. Consuming iodine-rich foods is essential for maintaining physiological functions. Plenty of vegetables, meats, and fruits from land and sea make this a pleasant task. Reach beyond table salt for sources of iodine.
Sea vegetables are the richest sources of iodine. Seaweeds absorb the trace element from ocean waters, and some types accumulate more than 30,000 times the level of iodine concentration in seawater. The amount of iodine varies widely among sea vegetable types, regions in which they grow, and how they are prepared, but one tablespoon of seaweed can provide between 11 and 1,989 percent of the recommended daily value (DV) of the nutrient. The Japanese eat more sea vegetables than any other group, and research suggests that this could contribute to their longevity and low occurrences of some cancers. Many health food stores and supermarkets carry seaweed combinations in forms that are easy to include in dishes or beverages. Sea vegetables include:
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