Seaweed for Thyroid Health

Image: Epicurrence When it comes to thyroid health one of the best foods you can eat rarely makes it on to a North American plate.

I'm talking about seaweed! A central star in many different Asian cuisines, particularly Japanese, seaweeds are full of nutrients and minerals, and very good for our bodies.


Seaweed and Your Thyroid

Earlier this month I went over how the thyroid functions. The Coles' notes are that it produces the hormones T3 and T4, which help to regulate the temperature, function and growth of every single cell in the human body.

In other words, your thyroid is crazy-important to your overall health.

The thyroid converts iodine and another amino acid called tyrosine into T3 and T4. And guess what just happens to be incredibly rich in iodine?



High-Iodine Seaweeds

"Seaweed" is a general category for marine plants made from algae, which draw their nutrients from the ocean.

In the seaweed family, some varieties are more nutrient-dense than others.

Kelp (kombu, in Japanese cuisine) is by far the most iodine-laden: it contains 8,000 micrograms of iodine per gram of mass. To put this into perspective, the recommended daily amount of iodine for healthy men and women is 150 micrograms!

(You should keep in mind that these measurements pertain to dried seaweed, which is very light in mass.)

Other varieties of seaweed like wakame (used in seaweed salad) and nori (used in sushi rolls) contain approximately 42 micrograms and 16 micrograms per gram, respectively.

In short, if your thyroid isn't functioning properly, seaweed can be a great place to start when it comes to dietary remedies.


How to Integrate Seaweed into Your Diet

Short of going out for sushi every other day, you might be lost as to how to bring seaweed into your diet.

First, visit your local health food store: they'll have a variety of different kinds of seaweed. You can also check out small Japanese grocers, just be sure to buy high-quality products and avoid the cheapest of the cheap - they may be riddled with preservatives and other chemicals.

Second, treat your selection of kelp flakes and nori sheets like a seasoning - add them to soups, salads and other dishes for a bit of a salty, tangy flavour.

It's really as simple as that!


A Word About Iodine

One word of caution: often when people find out that something's "good" for them, they go overboard and start eating huge quantities.

With iodine, however, moderation is key: starting with 150-200 micrograms per day can be helpful, but in some cases of thyroid disorders higher doses can be counterproductive, and have adverse effects on the thyroid!  Always consult with your ND or complimentary health care provider if you are unsure about the dosage for your individual case.

So stick to the prescribed amount, try out different varieties, and watch how this super-sea-food boosts your overall health and well-being.