Iodine is a mineral required in minute amounts by our body for the synthesis of thyroid hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism (body’s energy production) and organ function. Deficiency of iodine in diet can result in a condition called goiter (enlargement of thyroid gland).
According to researchers vegans (people who do not eat or use animal products), lacto-vegetarians (people who eat only dairy products and vegetables) and lacto-ovovegetarians (people who eat egg, dairy products and vegetables) are prone to have iodine deficiency more commonly than non-vegetarians.
In a study conducted on 84 people it was found that around 80% of vegans and 25% of vegetarians had iodine deficiency (i.e. having urinary iodine excretion less than 100 µg) as compared to just 9% in non-vegetarians. Hence, this study shows that there is increased incidence of iodine deficiency in the vegetarian group. This is because the iodine content in food of plant origin is less as compared to that of animal origin.
Therefore, to prevent this deficiency it is essential to take diet rich in iodine. Infact, iodized salt can provide sufficient iodine to prevent low thyroid activity. Other rich sources of iodine that can be included in the diet are seafood, milk and dairy products (such as cheese, butter, yogurt, ice-cream), bread products that contain iodate dough conditioners, chocolate, molasses, soy and soy products.