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Researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom studied the iodine content of 47 different dairy-free drinks, including almond, coconut, and oat milk. According to the study, the iodine concentration in all the alternatives tested was only about two percent of that found in cow’s milk.
Iodine is a mineral that the body needs to make thyroid hormones, which play an important role in controlling metabolic functions. ”A glass of a milk alternative would only provide around two micrograms (mcg) of iodine," says Margaret Rayman, professor of nutritional medicine at the University of Surrey, and it’s recommended that adults consume 150 mcg per day. Moreover, “iodine is particularly important for pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy,” she says. “Women should consume 200 mcg while expecting,” she adds. Previous studies from the University of Surrey have shown lower levels of cognitive development in infants that faced mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy.
For anyone avoiding milk, whether by choice or because of an allergy, Rayman recommends getting iodine from other dietary sources. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises incorporating seafood, specifically cod (which has 99 mcg of iodine per three-ounce serving), into a weekly meal plan, or loading up on other iodine-rich foods such as eggs, poultry, or nuts. A doctor can also prescribe an iodine supplement, if necessary.