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BY: Bronwyn McNulty
When you’re constantly on the go, you might not notice how tired you really are. Even if you do, you’re likely to blame it on your stressful lifestyle and vow to “sleep more tonight.” That should fix things, right?
We’d hope so. But did you know that fatigue and other seemingly harmless symptoms -- dry skin, a few extra pounds, constipation, a less-than-stellar mood, etc. -- can actually signal serious underlying conditions? One of these is hyperthyroidism, a dangerous disorder caused by iodine deficiency.
What Is Iodine?
Iodine is an essential chemical element your thyroid needs to make thyroid hormones. Without it, tissue development is hindered and your body cannot mature normally. As thyroid levels fall, hyperthyroidism develops, slowing your metabolism and causing all those aforementioned symptoms. And if you don’t notice it or get it treated, your mental function can decline, and you might eventually lapse into a coma.
Sounds scary, right? It is. Iodine deficiency is nothing less than a serious public health problem. In fact, the 2008 Australian Total Diet Study (ATDS) found that 43 per cent of Australians don’t get enough iodine!
How to Ensure You’re Getting Enough Iodine
The best way to be sure you get enough iodine every day is to eat the foods that contain it. Iodised salt seems to have dropped off from our dinner tables and the food industry’s radar. (Sanitizing techniques once carried out by the dairy industry using iodine, for example, have now been replaced.) But luckily, as a result of the ATDS, mandatory fortification of iodine in bread was introduced in September 2009.
Other foods that contain iodine can also help. Here’s a look at what you should be eating and how much iodine (measured in micrograms of iodine per 100 g) you’ll get from each:
How Much Iodine Do You Actually Need?
Here’s what Nutrition Australia recommends (measured in mcg per day):
While Food Standards Australia says the fortification of bread will meet the iodine needs of most people, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) advises that women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to fall pregnant should take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms a day. If you have a thyroid condition, talk to your doctor before taking an iodine supplement.
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