Dietary Sources of Iodine

An important fact about iodine in general is that the adage “if a little is good, more is better” does not apply. Err on the side of “less is more” as the levels of iodine used in the body are tiny compared with other minerals like magnesium or sodium. At the same time, thyroid hormones are made in tiny amounts yet produced such a large effect on the body. The correct amount of iodine is the that amount that optimizes your metabolism in good health.

About 90% of iodine intake is obtained from food consumed and the remainder from water. Iodine is available in trace amounts in water, food and common salts. An easy way to remember what foods are adequate in iodine is think about foods found close to the ocean are high in iodine and foods grown at high at altitudes are very low in iodine. Iodine is abundant in sea-water, and sea weeds and spongy shells. Rich sources are ocean fish, oysters, green vegetables and leaves like spinach grown on iodine rich soil. Common sources are milk, meat, and cereals. Salt fortified with small quantities of sodium or potassium iodate is now compulsorily made available in the market as iodized salt to check goiter.

If you want to optimize your iodine levels naturally, pay careful attention to your diet. Toxin-free sea vegetables and spirulina are ideal ways to obtain iodine—however, make sure that these are harvested from uncontaminated waters. Milk and eggs contain iodine, in Denmark, more than 25% of the iodine intake in the average Danish diet is derived from milk and another 25% from drinking water, coffee, tea and other beverages.

Adequate amounts of iodine are missing from most fruits, vegetables, meats, and other foods. Getting enough iodine from our diet can be tricky, but not impossible. You can get sufficient iodine with supplementation and a little creative eating. Even red wine and some beers contain small amounts of iodine (not advocating to obtain iodine from beer!)

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iodine is about 150 micrograms for adults, and 220 micrograms for pregnant women; this is the amount needed to keep you from developing a goiter. Realize the RDA system was created in the early 1900’s and is outdated and should only be used as a starting guideline. The more research you do, it becomes evident that we all need a lot more than the RDA recommends. The Japanese consume nearly 100 times more iodine than Americans due to their daily consumption of sea weed, sea vegetables, and sea food. The RDA for iodine in the U.S. is a meager 150 mcg/day, which pales in comparison with the average daily intake of 13800 micrograms/day for the Japanese. That being said, it is possible to take in too much iodine at the same time! Wash your skin with Betadine everyday and you will get hypothyroidism!