So you’re a vegetarian and want to stay healthy. That’s awesome! A vegetarian lifestyle is proven to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and even Type 2 Diabetes. But that’s just the good news. The bad news is that by cutting certain foods from your diet, you’re also cutting the usual ways you’d receive certain nutrients. For instance, iodine. Are you getting enough? Here’s what you should consider regarding your diet and iodine.
Iodine is important for your overall health. A lot of you probably only think of it in terms of disinfecting cuts and scrapes, but iodine is critical for your body’s growth, metabolism, and overall development. What exactly does this prevent? Thyroid cancer, headaches, goiters, and menstrual problems can all be caused by a lack of iodine, and the trouble compounds in children and pregnant women as iodine deficiency leads to developmental problems such as much lower intelligence than average.
Well then, where does iodine typically come from? Commonly, you’d expect to find iodine in fish, though milk and especially mozzarella cheese are other good options. As a vegetarian, it’ll be through milk and cheese where you’ll most likely turn, but for a vegan things become even more complicated still.
Lucky for you, there are still plenty of sources within your diet to get all the nutrients you need, including iodine. Foods rich in the vitamin include Swiss chard, asparagus, kale, spinach, turnips, kelp, mustard greens, summer squash, and agar. To a lesser extent, you can also try walnuts, lima beans, almonds, brown rye, and wheat.
Oh course, just eating these foods may not be enough to fully help with a deficiency, specifically if you’re also suffering from a deficiency of other vitamins such as vitamins A and D or zinc. The reason is that your body won’t be able to properly absorb iodine if you’re suffering from a deficiency in those other nutrients, but that just indicates a much larger problem of needing to balance your diet better.
Commonly, foods that claim to be extremely healthy for you tend to be overly processed, thus either reducing the effectiveness of the nutrients or eliminating them altogether. Alternatively, vitamin supplements can also be hazardous as too much iodine becomes toxic. Yes, it’s certainly a never-ending struggle, but no diet is ever exempt from some thought regarding what you’re eating.
Basically, if you want to really benefit from your new healthy lifestyle, you’re going to need to put forth some work and some effort. It just goes hand-in-hand with the desire to better yourself, but it’s mostly all pre-planning as once you have your diet worked out, it’s simply a matter of maintaining. Be careful and smart about what you’re eating and you should be getting plenty of iodine in your diet!