By Kaileigh Carew

Edited for online by Claire Boughey

Dieticians are recommending those who steer clear of having cows’ milk in their morning coffee, should eat other foods rich in iodine to avoid problematic thyroid function.

As the trend of drinking dairy-free milk alternatives gains traction, experts are concerned people are at risk of becoming iodine deficient.

Cow's milk is one of the major sources of iodine in our diet. Source: Pixabay
Cows’ milk is one of the main sources of iodine in our diet. Source: Pixabay

Cows’ milk is a common source of iodine, containing 22 micrograms (ug) in a standard serve, while a popular alternative such as almond milk only contains 0.23ug.

Health Engine Nutritionist Carissa Mason said iodine plays an important role in maintaining our overall health.

“Iodine’s so so crucial for thyroid function,” she said.

“Our thyroid is our little gland in our neck… and that gland controls our metabolic processes and downstream controls our weight and overall functioning of our digestive system and the rest of our health really.”

According to Seed and Kilter Dietician Sanchia Parker, the outcomes of iodine deficiency can be quite significant.

“So definitely we know that people who are iodine deficient can have slightly lower IQs, developmental problems and other health issues,” she said.

“It is more of a concern in developing countries… you can still get iodine from other foods like vegetables, beans, cheese, seafood.”

Nutritionist Danielle Groth said it was especially important for pregnant women to have enough iodine in their diet.

“Obviously in pregnancy there is a lot to do with fetal development as well,” she said.

“A lack of iodine is obviously going to impact the babies’ development and growth and also the thyroid function and thyroid growth of that baby as well.”

As a result of the growing popularity of fad diets which remove dairy all together, people are beginning to develop iodine deficiency.

However, Ms Parker said there were other ways for people to get enough iodine in their diet without dairy.

“Remember to get a range of healthy foods… following the Australian Guide to Health Eating so getting their fruits, their vegetables, their grainy foods, proteins and things like that,” she said.

“The point is getting variety because although they may be lacking iodine in those two particular food sources if they are eating other food, which are going to provide them with the iodine.”

Ms Mason said it was important to gain advice before removing vital elements from your diet.

“Basically with any diet which is going to remove any sorts of food groups please seek the help of a professional clinical nutritionists so that you can make sure you are covering your diet from all aspects and not missing out on any of the core nutrients for everyday functioning,” she said.