Foods naturally rich in iodine include sea bass, cod, haddock, perch, sea kelp and dairy products. Iodized salt is table salt enriched with added iodine, and is the world's main food source of iodine. Plants grown in iodine-rich soil are also good sources of iodine.
Iodine is essential to thyroid health. The thyroid gland uses iodine to help synthesize hormones, allowing it to properly manage growth, development, energy metabolism and detoxification. Lack of dietary iodine may lead to a number of conditions, including slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, fatigue and even depression and anxiety.
Chronic iodine deficiency can lead to goiter, a condition in which the thyroid gland enlarges in the neck and causes difficulty breathing, swallowing and eating. Hypothyroidism may also develop due to lack of iodine. Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid is unable to produce enough hormones, and leads to a number of health problems including obesity and heart disease. Severe iodine deficiency in pregnant women can increase chances of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and birth defects.
As of 2014, the recommended daily allowance for iodine is 150 micrograms per day for everyone over the age of 14. The RDA for children ages 1 to 8 is 90 daily micrograms, and for ages 9 to 13 it is 120 micrograms. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume at least 290 micrograms daily.