Growing in giant underwater forests up to heights of 175 feet, kelp is a large brown algae seaweed and a superfood rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Kelp is best-known for being one of the richest natural sources of an essential mineral—iodine.
It is recommended that most adults should be taking 150mcg of iodine per day. The Linus Pauling Institute has published that adults aged 19 and over can take up to 1,100mcg of iodine per day with no negative effects. Iodine deficiency is a common problem in most people; according to research, it affects up to 1/3 of people worldwide.
Iodine and the Thyroid Gland
The thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, is responsible for regulating the production of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones act on nearly every cell in the body. They regulate the body’s metabolism, affect protein synthesis, control heart, muscle and digestive function, brain development and bone maintenance and influence body temperature. During infancy and childhood, adequate thyroid hormone is crucial for brain development.
The thyroid needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Its ability to function well depends on a good supply of iodine from the diet. When iodine requirements are not met, our body cannot make enough thyroid hormones. This is a condition called hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).
can lead to
poor mental development
poor resistance to infection
enlarged thyroid gland (goitre)
Iodine deficiency is one of the biggest worldwide public health problems of today. Not only does it lead to poor thyroid function as explained earlier, it has even more profound hidden effects on the following groups:
Note: Do ensure to consult with your healthcare professional before consuming any supplements during pregnancy.
If children do not get enough iodine in their diets, they might develop iodine deficiency, resulting in stunted growth, intellectual impairment and a lower level of intelligence measured by IQ.
Women with Heavy/Irregular Menstrual Bleeding
Heavy or irregular menstrual bleeding can also be caused by iodine deficiency. This is also related to thyroid hormones. Studies show that 68% of women with iodine deficiency experience irregular cycles, compared with just 12% of healthy women.
Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers
During pregnancy, a woman’s thyroid gland has to work extra hard. This is because the hormones she produces help the growth of her unborn baby’s brain and nervous system.
Since a pregnant woman’s thyroid gland is working harder, she needs extra iodine so that she does not become iodine deficient. Severe iodine deficiency in a pregnant woman might lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or intellectual disability in her baby.
After birth, breastfed babies depend on breastmilk as a source of iodine, which keeps their brains and nervous systems developing. This means that iodine deficiency in breastfeeding mothers can also be a risk for their babies.
Fortunately, iodine deficiency is easy to prevent by adding good sources of iodine in our diet.
Kelp is one of the best natural food sources of organic iodine. Not only that, it is also a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium. In fact, it contains the highest natural concentration of calcium in any food—10 times more than milk.
The vitamins and trace minerals of this brown algae help us maintain healthy hair and beautiful skin.
That is one of the reasons why we often find algae in cosmetic products. In addition, kelp is extremely rich in dietary fibre and therefore supports healthy digestion.