Iodine and Children: Benefits, Intake and Side Effects

Iodine and Children: Benefits, Intake and Side Effects

As a parent, you always pay attention to the health and well-being of your child. You make sure they eat vegetables and get enough protein, but vitamins and minerals are a little harder to track.

If you're concerned about your child's intake of necessary minerals such as iodine, here's what to know about iodine in the diet, iodine deficiency, and the recommended daily amount of iodine for developing children.

What is iodine?

Iodine (sometimes called  iodide ) is a mineral that is abundant throughout the earth. It occurs naturally in saltwater oceans and fertile soils. Many natural minerals are beneficial for human, animal and plant life.

What are the Benefits of Iodine for the Body?

The body cannot make  thyroid hormone  without iodine. These hormones are important for more than just  thyroid function  . The body also uses the same hormones for brain and bone development. Without  micronutrients  like iodine, children cannot grow. 

The thyroid is responsible for regulating  metabolism  , which is one of the most important processes in the body. Metabolism  is responsible for processing every  nutrient  , vitamin, and mineral you eat. It also helps the body to reap a lot of energy from the food consumed.

Iodine is very important for pregnant people, because babies need iodine to grow to term. This is just as important during  infancy  when children are growing at a rapid rate. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is very important to receive adequate amounts of iodine. 

How Much Iodine Does a Child Need?

The body only needs a small amount of iodine to produce its many benefits. Iodine intake is measured in micrograms (mcg) rather than milligrams (mg). Guidelines for dietary iodine allowances are as follows:

  • Newborns up to 6 months – 110  mcg  of iodine daily
  • Seven months to 12 months – 130  mcg  of iodine daily
  • One year old to 8 years old – 90  mcg  of iodine daily
  • Nine years to 13 years – 120  mcg  of iodine daily
  • 14 years and over – 150  mcg  of iodine daily
  • During  pregnancy  – 220  mcg  of iodine daily
  • While breastfeeding – 290  mcg  of iodine daily

Iodine status  needs to be monitored closely during  pregnancy  and  infancy  . If you have ever had concerns that your child might not be receiving  enough iodine  , you need to seek advice from a pediatrician right away. 

Concerns should always be taken seriously. It's better to be too careful and ask a lot of questions, even though  your child's intake of iodine is  sufficient. False alarms are always better than a worse case scenario.

Premature infants  and  infants  with  malabsorption may be at increased risk of deficiency. Talk to your pediatrician about your child's special needs if special circumstances surround their health.

Can Children Be Iodine Deficiency?

Iodine deficiency  is very rare in developed countries. Their  symptoms  are visible and severe. Iodine deficiency  usually begins with swelling around  the thyroid gland  , which is located at the front of the neck. 

Unexpected changes in weight and appetite may occur, and weakness and fatigue may occur. 

People with  iodine deficiency  often feel very cold. Their skin may become dry and scaly, and they may lose their hair. Over time,  iodine deficiency  causes cognitive decline. 

People with  iodine deficiency have  difficulty reading, learning, remembering, and reasoning. This is because  thyroid hormone  plays a key role in brain development. Without adequate amounts of these hormones, children can become intellectually disabled. 

Children with  iodine deficiency  may never reach their full intellectual capacity. 

This severe  type  of iodine deficiency is usually only seen in developing countries, and international organizations for the health and well-being of children have taken steps to provide more sources of iodine to children who may be at risk.

Dietary Sources of Iodine for Kids

Iodine is a bit hard to come by. While many foods contain necessary vitamins, iodine only occurs naturally in some foods, and it is difficult to find  good sources of iodine  

While  certain vitamins, minerals, and trace elements  (such as  vitamin C  ) are available in abundance, iodine requires supervision. Some parents may find barriers to  adequate dietary iodine intake  based on food groups that are naturally rich in iodine. 

Iodized salt

Salt  is one of the most common cooking ingredients. Most recipes call for  salt That's why so many salt  manufacturers  add iodine to their finished products. This is an easy way to incorporate iodine into most foods.

Iodine content will vary from brand to brand. Most brands include about 150  micrograms of iodine  per teaspoon of  salt  . A little  salt helps a lot, and children shouldn't eat  too much  salt  High salt  intake  can lead to bloating, water retention, urination and kidney function problems, and cardiovascular complications.

Many people have switched to using  sea salt  , believing it to be a healthier alternative to  table salt  . In fact, sea  salt and  table  salt are almost  identical nutritionally. The trace minerals that naturally occur in  sea salt  are not large enough to have a positive impact on overall health. Sea  salt  does not contain large amounts of iodine , making it an effective method of mineral delivery. 

While  iodized salt is excellent  as a potential source of iodine, it is important to remember that  salt  should be used very sparingly. Salt  cannot be your child's only source of iodine. A small sprinkling of  salt  on the baked sweet potato slices will enhance their taste and give them a hint of this important mineral. 

Fish and Seafood

Fish such as  cod ,  tuna ,  salmon , shrimp, and  sea vegetables  such as  seaweed,  naturally contain iodine. They absorb it from the ocean and pass it on to you when you eat it. Iodine content may not be consistent or predictable from fish to fish, but the amount should be sufficient.

If your child will or can eat fish or shrimp, consider serving them several times a week to increase the overall iodine content of your child's diet. 

Dairy products

A cup of milk or a serving of  yogurt  can provide  enough iodine  to meet your child's recommended daily intake. It is important to note that plant-based milk alternatives or milk substitutes do not contain large amounts of iodine. In fact, with the exception of soy milk, no plant-based milk alternative is as nutritious or healthy as milk.

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