Are You Eating Enough of These Foods With Iodine?

Reading Time: 7 minutes

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 2 billion people globally are iodine deficient [1]. Iodine is one of the most important essential minerals since it is needed for just about every cell in the human body [2]. If you’re not eating enough foods with iodine, then you may be among the billions of folks who are deficient in iodine.

Read on to discover foods with natural iodine in them, and pointers as to when it may be time to supplement with iodine for your health.

Why More People Need to Eat Foods With Iodine in Them

right hand holding salt shaker

If you think that a sprinkle of some iodine-fortified table salt on top of a meal is enough to get the amount of iodine your body needs… think again.

While an “overt deficiency” of a certain nutrient can be immediately life-threatening (think vitamin C deficiency and scurvy), subclinical deficiencies of nutrients can be just as damaging in the long run.

“Subclinical iodine deficiency” is when the body gets enough iodine to prevent severe conditions such as goiter and birth defects, but not enough to prevent chronic disease.

These conditions of iodine deficiency can run the gamut from fibroid tumors and hypothyroidism to “brain fog.” People who have iodine at the subclinical level are also at greater risk for thyroid, breast, and prostate cancer [3] – [4].

Unfortunately, the “Recommended Daily Allowance” (now called the Dietary Reference Intake or DRI) for iodine hasn’t changed much since the 1940s. During that decade, the U.S. National Institutes of Medicine put the current RDA into place in response to an epidemic of severe iodine deficiency in the Great Lakes and Appalachia area known as the “Goiter Belt [5].”

Signs of Low Iodine Levels

tired-woman-sitting-at-desk-with-head-in-hands-fatigue-upset

Many of the signs of low iodine levels are the same as low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) since the thyroid is the organ that requires the most iodine as “food.”

These low thyroid symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Poor cognitive function (or “brain fog”)
  • Hair loss
  • Digestive disorders
  • Heart palpitations
  • and many others [6]

The gut, salivary glands, and reproductive systems of both men and women also require iodine to function.

Foods Fortified With Iodine: Not Always a Healthy Source

doctor examining patient with goiter: an abnormal enlargement of thyroid gland

When iodine was first introduced in table salt (and also in fortified bread) in response to the “Goiter Belt” epidemic, it did indeed save a lot of lives. A Boston Medical Center study found that in the 1920s, between 26% and 70% of children in the Goiter Belt area were diagnosed with “clinically apparent goiter [7].”

By the 1950s, upwards of 70% of all households in the U.S. used iodized salt.
A lot has changed in the food industry since then, however. These days, iodized salt manufacturers cut corners to save costs, often at the detriment of consumer safety [8].

Some commercial salt operations use halide substances like fluoride in their products, which ironically have the effect of blocking iodine absorption in the body [9]. [Note: Halides are a group of elements on the periodic table of elements that includes fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine.]

Commercial table salt may also contain other toxins, such as talc, silica aluminate (a form of aluminum), and the chemical additive ferrocyanide [10].

slices of white bread

Bread was one of the foods fortified with iodine in the past, but not anymore. As a matter of fact, many popular bread companies actually use iodine-blocking halide substances such as potassium bromate in their bread.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, researchers first discovered the link between bromate and cancer tumors in rats over 30 years ago [11]!

Avoiding any products that may harbor iodine-blocking halides such as fluoride, chlorine, bromide, and their derivatives can go a long way towards helping the iodine that you do ingest naturally to be absorbed.

List of Foods with High Iodine Content

So what foods should you eat for iodine health? Here are some foods with lots of iodine naturally:

bowl of seaweed salad

Cleanly grown and harvested sea vegetables are considered the best sources of iodine.

A 2002 French investigation discovered that the Laminaria hyperborean (also known as brown algae) and Gracilaria verrucose (aka red algae) varieties both had not only high iodine concentrations but also lent themselves to high absorption rates when consumed.

In the study, they were also the type of sea vegetables which were the least affected by heavy metals [12]. Some experts state that brown algae varieties, in particular, can contain up to 30,000 times the concentrations of iodine found in seawater [13]!

Some examples of other sea vegetables that are high in iodine include:

  • Wakame
  • Hiziki
  • Kombu
  • Sea cucumber
  • Dulse

Commercial sea vegetable products are among the foods with iodine to avoid. Be sure that your sea kelp is sourced from a very reliable source. Your company should test for pollutants and harvest using clean practices. This is because heavy metal toxicity in sea vegetables is a concern worldwide.

Other plant foods that contain high amounts of iodine include:

  • Prunes
  • Spirulina
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Lima Beans
  • Peas
  • Cranberries
  • Navy beans

Organic, hormone-free, and free-range dairy and fish are also solid sources of iodine. These include:

  • Wild-caught cod
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Yogurt
  • Tuna
  • Raw milk
  • Raw cheese
  • Eggs

The Good (and the Bad) of Getting Iodine from Food

How can I get enough iodine

Getting iodine from whole foods is by far the most ideal way to obtain it. Whole foods like sea vegetables, lima beans, and eggs also contain the other nutrients needed to convert iodine into a form that the body can use.

There are many essential minerals and vitamins which are helpful for this conversion process. Among the “powerhouse helpers” when it comes to iodine are potassium, selenium, iron, and zinc.

Foods that contain both iodine and zinc are especially important for thyroid health. While iodine is “food” for the thyroid, zinc is needed for the conversion of thyroid hormones once they are produced. It is also needed for communication between the hypothalamus and the thyroid [14].

Examples of foods that contain both iodine and zinc include:

  • Eggs
  • Rhubarb
  • Seaweed
  • Beef

Some foods that are high in zinc alone include:

  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Dark chocolate
  • Many kinds of seeds such as pumpkin and watermelon

Why Your Body Needs Selenium to Absorb Iodine

Another element needed for safe iodide and iodine conversion is selenium [15]. Iodine in foods comes mostly in the form of iodide. During this conversion process, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is created in the body. H2O2 is necessary too, in the right amounts. Too much, however, can lead to oxidative stress. Selenium has the ability to neutralize excess H2O2.

A 2002 study found that upping selenium levels to 100 mcg/day over nine months increased glutathione levels (the “master antioxidant”) and reduced the number of antibodies associated with autoimmune thyroid disease [16].

When Iodine From Food Is Not Enough

doctor examining woman's neck for goiter

For most individuals, challenges regarding iodine have to do with getting too little, not too much. Low iodine is directly related to low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, a condition that affects one in 20 American adults [18].

A prudent starting point for anyone who is concerned about their iodine levels is to get an iodine test done. Often labs can check for iodine-blocking halides as well.

When a person suffers from subclinical iodine deficiency, obtaining iodine directly from food may not be enough. The poor soil conditions that led to nutrient deficiency in the United States during the 1940s did not end with the “Goiter Belt.”

A study conducted by the University of Texas took a look at the nutrient load of dozens of the most common American crops over a 50-year period (1950 to 2000). They found that in every instance, mineral and vitamin content is declining significantly over time, and poor soil quality is largely to blame [19].

Finding the Right Iodine Supplement

kelp forest in ocean source of iodine

Potassium iodine from kelp is probably the most common source of iodine found in supplement form. The best way to get the iodine you need, however, is through using a nascent iodine supplement.

Nascent iodine goes into your body cleanly, does not need to be converted, and begins to affect healing mechanisms right away. Organixx nascent iodine is certified organic and does not come from kelp, so there is no risk of chemical residue.

Don’t be a statistic! Stay away from processed foods, commercial table salt, and halide sources that may be depleting you of iodine. Instead, make the switch to whole foods that contain not only iodine but other vital nutrients as well.

And if you are suffering the effects of hypothyroidism or autoimmune conditions that can lead to thyroid imbalance, consider supplementing with Organixx nascent iodine, the safest, most effective type of iodine available.


When your organs are working hard to detoxify, you want the purest form of iodine possible to help them work more efficiently. It only makes sense to use an organic form that’s totally natural and free of chemicals. Organixx Iodine is one of the only formulas that is 100% USDA Certified Organic. It’s a pure, nascent form of iodine which your thyroid can use immediately.

Organixx Organic Iodine

Article Summary

  • Iodine is an essential mineral needed for just about every cell in the human body. If you’re not eating enough foods with iodine, then you may be among the estimated 2 billion people worldwide deficient in iodine. 

  • “Subclinical iodine deficiency” is when the body gets enough iodine to prevent severe conditions such as goiter and birth defects, but not enough to prevent chronic disease.

  • Many of the signs of low iodine levels are the same as low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) since the thyroid is the organ that requires the most iodine as “food.”

  • By the 1950s, upwards of 70% of all households in the U.S. used iodized salt. These days iodized salt manufacturers cut corners to save costs, often at the detriment of consumer safety 

  • Bread was another food fortified with iodine in the past. Today, many popular bread companies use iodine-blocking halide substances such as potassium bromate in their bread. 

  • Cleanly grown and harvested sea vegetables (inc. wakame, hiziki, kombu, sea cucumber, and dulse) are considered the best sources of iodine. Other plant foods that contain high amounts of iodine include: 

    • Prunes
    • Spirulina
    • Corn
    • Potatoes
    • Lima Beans
    • Peas
    • Cranberries
    • Navy beans

    Organic, hormone-free, and free-range dairy and fish are also solid sources of iodine. These include:

    • Wild-caught cod
    • Wild-caught salmon
    • Yogurt
    • Tuna
    • Raw milk
    • Raw cheese
    • Eggs
  • Potassium iodine from kelp is the most common source of iodine found in supplement form. But the best way to get the iodine you need is through using a nascent iodine supplement such as Organixx Iodine

Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Hi Donna, thank you for your question.

      Since Organixx cannot diagnose, treat, or give advice regarding your health and individual use of our products, we suggest working with your primary care physician to help you determine whether taking an Iodine supplement would be beneficial for your personal health needs.

      If you would like to learn more about our Organixx Iodine, please check out the following pages:

      Iodine Online Store: https://shop.organixx.com/products/iodine/
      Iodine Info Page: https://organixx.com/iodine/

      Hope this helps. Wishing you all the best in your health and wellness journey!

  1. This is a fascinating article, thank you so much for it. I live in Canadas’s capitol city and have tried for years to get fluoride removed from our drinking water. Even the organization ECOLOGY OTTAWA ignores the emails I’ve been sending them, they just ramble on and on about all the trees they’re planting.

    And trees are wonderful, it’s true, but it breaks my heart that although Ottawa now has a population of one million people, our mayor (Mr. Jim Watson) and most of our city councillors refuse to agitate for getting rid of fluoride in our water supply.

    • We’re glad you enjoyed reading this post, Elisabeth. We hope you can check out another informative article that we published regarding our very own Nascent Iodine: https://organixx.com/iodine. It would be really nice to hear what you think of this supplement!

      Thank you for your feedback and for sharing your story with us. Your passion regarding your cause is really evident and we wish you the best in everything that you do!

  2. According to Izabella Wentz in “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” excess iodine can trigger and perpetuate the autoimmune attack in Hashimoto’s.

    • Hello Lynde, thank you for sharing this with us.

      If we may add, individuals with thyroid goiter/nodule/Hashimotos who are looking into using our Organixx Nascent Iodine are suggested to work with their primary care physician to help them determine whether this would be appropriate for their personal needs, and if so, what serving recommendation would be best suited.

      Also, we would love for you to check out this interesting podcast episode we published on the 10 Health Benefits of Iodine: https://organixx.com/empowering-you-organically/10-health-benefits-of-iodine-episode-22.

      We hope you enjoyed it and we wish you a nice weekend ahead!

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