Iodine is a mineral used in the body by the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones, [thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)]. It’s also an essential mineral required for metabolic processes, and is particularly important during pregnancy and lactation, as growing fetuses and infants require sufficient levels of Iodine in order to develop properly. Despite increased public awareness and government iodization programs, iodine deficiency remains a significant problem worldwide. Although iodine deficiency is not as common in the United States as in other parts of the world, there is some evidence to suggest it may be experiencing a resurgence in the United States.
Individuals following a restricted diet are at an increased risk of suffering from iodine deficiency, and a reported 50-70% of the United States population are attempting at least some degree of weight loss. To further complicate matters, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not require food packaging to list iodine content, making it difficult for consumers to monitor and regulate their own iodine intake. Given these factors, it is perhaps unsurprising that iodine consumption may remain overlooked among some dieters.
In a health survey, nearly one in ten of respondents trying to lose weight were doing so with the assistance of a weight loss program (such as Jenny Craig®, Nutrisystem®, and Medifast®). A study published in the Endocrine Practice journal evaluated the iodine content of a typical week of food from each of these three weight loss programs. On average, these programs provided only 12.2 to 70.1 μg/day of iodine – surprisingly far short of the recommended daily iodine intake of 150 μg/day for adults, 220 μg/day during pregnancy, and 290 μg/day during lactation. With the exception of Jenny Craig®, these programs do not include recommendations for nutritional supplements. Although further evaluation of weight loss programs is necessary in order to evaluate their full nutritional value, it is clear that consumers should at least include a high quality multi vitamin dietary supplement that includes appropriate amounts of iodine (such as ThyroLife Optima) to avoid becoming iodine deficient.