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Iodine for health

Iodine: "The universal medicine"

How to Supplement Iodine for health benefits - Sources of Iodine

Iodine Food Sources

The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones (in addition to other important functions).   Needed  iodine must come from diet or iodine supplements

Natural sources of iodine

In nature, iodine is rarely found uncombined, and is usually found in its iodide (I-) form.   Very little is found in its elemental iodine (I2) form

-   Iodide is a single, negatively charged iodine atom.   It is usually found bound to an inorganic mineral or bound to the amino acid tyrosine as part of the mammalian thyroxine hormone

Of the natural sources, ocean fish, seaweed and seafood contain the highest levels of iodine

Iodine is also found in plants (depending on amount of iodine in soil where they were grown) and animal sources (depending on iodine content in their diet).


Poor Iodine Sources (microgram range)

Land vegetables contain very little iodine

There is very little iodine in the soil.   Iodine content can be improved by fertilizing with kelp, or irrigation with iodine-rich water; coastal regions have richer iodine content than inland, since iodide ions in seawater are oxidized to elemental iodine, which is volatilized by UV into the atmosphere and  returned to the soil by rain.

Vegetables (high to low) - kidney beans, asparagus, cabbage, garlic, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes. Also lima beans, sesame seeds, radishes, rhubarb, peas, mushrooms,bananas, soybeans, spinach, Swiss chard, summer squash, turnip greens, onions.

Fruit - (high to low) - pineapple, strawberries, grapes, and pears.

Iodized Salt and Sea Salt are not good sources of iodine

Iodized salt is not the wonderful iodine source frequently portrayed.   Iodized salt contains only ~74 mcg iodide/gram (typically providing only ~200 mcg/day in the U.S.). The addition of an iodate (in E.U.) or iodide (in U.S. e.g. potassium or sodium iodide) to salt was designed to prevent goiter and cretinism, and never intended to supply the whole body's optimal iodine requirements. To make matters worse, only 10% of sodium iodide in table salt is bio-available, due to competition for intestinal absorption with its chloride content

Abraham, G.E.: The concept of orthoiodosupplementation and its clinical implications. The Original Internist, 2004

Sea-salt is also not a significant source of iodine


Dairy contains a little iodine if cow consumes it

The breast concentrates milk making it a source of iodine, but only if the cow receives iodine in her diet.  Sources include: Yogurt, cow's milk, mozzarella Cheese (part skim)


Egg yolks contain a small amount of iodine.


More concentrated iodine sources (but still in the microgram range)

Sea vegetables / animal sea life

Seaweed located near coral reefs have inherent biologic capacity to concentrate iodine from seawater.  The reef fish which thrive on it are also rich in iodine.

Seawater is not a particularly high source for iodine.    With a weak concentration of 0.05 PPM; sea salt contains a negligible amount of iodide;

-   Seawater has an extremely high concentration of the goitrogen/carcinogen bromide.    1400 times more bromide than iodide (0.05PPM iodide; 70PPM bromide); not only a goitrogen, bromine is considered a carcinogen with narcoleptic properties; seaweed also concentrates other halides.

 Goitrogens vs. Iodine

Shellfish, white deep-water fish, Cod liver oil.   However, one would have to eat 4 - 6 pounds of fish to get 3 mg of iodine;

Sea Vegetables / Seaweeds.   This high protein-food is a standard component of the Asian diet and their highest dietary source of iodine; coastal populations have an especially high iodine intake. Finding toxin-free sea vegetables can be a problem

-   Brown seaweeds (Highest in iodine):   include all forms of kelp (Hijiki/Hiziki and Sargassum are two other forms of brown seaweeds); Kelp supplies ionic trace minerals and plant processed vitamins; Kelp is high in the essential sugars, which are integral to our immune proteins (gamma globulins), important in intercellular communication and are involved in red blood cell metabolism. Focus (aka. Bladder-wrack) is considered the best for underactive thyroids because it contains the most iodine. Kelp has been found to contain toxic arsenic and halides.

 -   Red seaweeds:  include dulse, nori, Irish moss, and Gracilaria.

Some examples of iodine content in seaweeds are:

Arame ( 732mcg /Tbsp);   Hiziki (786mcg /Tbsp);    Kelp (1986mcg/Tbsp);

Kombu (1454mcg /1-inch piece);   Nori (40mcg /sheet);   Wakame (82mcg /Tbsp)


Forms of Iodine in nature

Soil, Saltpetre


Sodium Iodine


Sodium periodate  (periodate is the anion IO3- )


Seaweed (e.g. wakame, nori, mekabu)

/ Algal Phytoplankton




Potassium Iodide


Sodium Iodide







I and  IO3-

Iodide and Iodate

Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jan-Mar; 14(1): 13-17.

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