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Iodine-rich foods

9 healthy foods that are rich in iodine

Nearly one in three individuals may lack enough iodine. Try these 9 foods high in iodine to boost your health.

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9 healthy foods that are rich in iodine
Last updated on December 14, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on August 20, 2023.

Iodine is a vital mineral our bodies don’t produce, so we need to get it from food. Common sources of iodine are dairy, seaweed, certain fish, beans, and some fruits.

9 healthy foods that are rich in iodine

Your thyroid uses iodine to make hormones crucial for many body functions.

Adults typically need 150 mcg of iodine daily. Pregnant or breastfeeding women need even more.

Surprisingly, a third of the world’s people risk not getting enough iodine, especially in places where the soil has little iodine, like many parts of Europe.

Not having enough iodine can cause thyroid swelling, called goiter, and hypothyroidism, which leads to symptoms like tiredness, weak muscles, and weight gain.

Discover 9 foods rich in iodine to ensure you get enough in your diet.

1. Seaweed

Seaweed packs a punch with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all while being low in calories.

Seaweed is a top-notch source of iodine, but remember, the amount can differ depending on the type, where it comes from, and how it’s prepared.

Popular types of seaweed? Check out kombu kelp, wakame, and nori.

Kombu kelp

Kombu kelp is a dried brown seaweed or available as a powder. It’s commonly used in a Japanese soup called dashi.

A study on seaweed from different Asian countries showed that kombu kelp has the highest iodine level compared to other seaweeds.

One sheet of kombu kelp, weighing about 1 gram, can have up to 2,984 mcg of iodine. That’s nearly 2,000% of the daily recommended amount.

While most people can handle a lot of iodine without issues, some might face thyroid problems if they consume too much.

Wakame

Wakame is another type of brown seaweed that is slightly sweet in flavor. It is commonly used to make miso soup.

The amount of iodine in wakame seaweed depends on where it is grown. Wakame from Asia has higher amounts of iodine than wakame from Australia and New Zealand.

One study found that the average amount of iodine in wakame seaweed from various parts of the world was 66 mcg per gram or 44% of the daily recommended intake.

Nori

Nori is a type of red seaweed. Unlike brown seaweeds, it has a much lower content of iodine.

Nori is the type of seaweed that is commonly used in sushi rolls.

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Suggested read: 10 signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency

The iodine content in nori varies between 16–43 mcg per gram or about 11–29% of the daily value.

Summary: Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine. However, the amount it contains depends on the species. Kombu kelp offers the highest amount of iodine, with some varieties containing nearly 2,000% of the daily value in one gram.

2. Cod

Cod is a white fish known for its light texture and subtle taste.

While being low in fat and calories, cod is packed with essential minerals and nutrients, including iodine.

Research from the Icelandic Food Content Database suggests that fish with lower fat content have more iodine.

For example, 3 ounces (85 grams) of cod can contain anywhere from 63–99 mcg of iodine, which is about 42–66% of the daily recommended dose.

The iodine levels in cod might fluctuate based on whether it’s farm-raised or wild, and its catch location.

Summary: Lean fish like cod are more affluent in iodine than their fattier counterparts. A serving of cod could cover up to 66% of the daily iodine requirement.

3. Dairy

In the US, dairy is a primary iodine source.

Iodine content in dairy products varies, influenced by the iodine in cattle feed and the use of iodine-rich disinfectants during milking.

A detailed study analyzing 18 milk brands from Boston found iodine levels ranging from 88 mcg to 168 mcg per cup (8 ounces). This means a single cup can meet 59–112% of the daily iodine need.

Suggested read: 7 science-backed health benefits of seaweed

Yogurt is another dairy product rich in iodine. A cup of plain yogurt covers about half the daily iodine recommendation.

The iodine content in cheese can change based on its variety.

Among cheeses, cottage cheese stands out as an iodine-rich option. A cup offers 65 mcg, while an ounce of cheddar provides roughly 12 mcg.

Summary: The iodine content in dairy items like milk, yogurt, and cheese can vary, but they remain staple sources of iodine in many diets.

4. Iodized Salt

In the US, you can find both iodized and non-iodized salt on store shelves.

Iodine was added to table salt in the US starting in the 1920s as a preventive measure against goiters, which is a condition where the thyroid gland swells.

About 71 mcg of iodine is present in a 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt, meeting 47% of the daily recommended value. It’s essential to remember that salt is also a source of sodium.

Over recent years, there’s been a decline in iodine consumption in the US. This is largely due to health organizations advising reduced sodium intake to counteract or manage high blood pressure.

However, only a segment of the population, around 25%, is salt-sensitive and may experience raised blood pressure levels from salt consumption.

Summary: Iodized and non-iodized salt varieties are available for purchase. A 1/2 teaspoon of iodized salt daily can help maintain adequate iodine levels.

5. Shrimp

Shrimp is a low-calorie, protein-rich seafood that is an excellent source of iodine.

Additionally, shrimp provides vital nutrients such as vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus.

Shrimp and other seafood are good sources of iodine because they absorb some of it naturally in seawater.

Three ounces of shrimp contain about 35 mcg of iodine or 23% of the daily recommended intake.

Suggested read: 7 healthy foods that are high in vitamin D

Summary: Shrimp is a good source of protein and many nutrients, including iodine. Three ounces of shrimp provide approximately 23% of the daily value.

6. Tuna

Tuna is a nutritious food that is low in calories and high in protein. It is also rich in iodine, potassium, iron, and B vitamins.

Tuna is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which may lower your risk of heart disease.

Fish higher in fat offer lower amounts of iodine. Since tuna is a fattier fish, the amount of iodine found in tuna is lower than in leaner fish varieties, such as cod.

However, tuna is still a relatively good source of iodine, as three ounces provide 17 mcg or about 11% of the recommended daily intake.

Summary: Tuna offers less iodine than lean fish but is still a relatively good source. Three ounces of tuna provide about 11% of the daily recommended amount.

7. Eggs

Eggs are also a good source of iodine.

For fewer than 100 calories, one whole egg provides a lean source of protein, healthy fats, and a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals.

However, most of these nutrients, including iodine, come from the yolk.

Egg yolks are a good iodine source because they are added to chicken feed. Yet since the iodine content in chicken feed can vary, the amount found in eggs can also fluctuate.

On average, one large egg contains 24 mcg of iodine or 16% of the daily value.

Summary: Most of the iodine in eggs is found in the yolk. On average, one large egg provides 16% of the daily recommended amount.

8. Prunes

Dried plums are called prunes.

Vegetarians or vegans can get iodine from prunes. Five dried prunes give you 13 mcg of iodine, which is around 9% of the recommended daily intake.

Many people recognize prunes for aiding in constipation relief, thanks to their rich fiber and sorbitol content.

Prunes also have various vitamins like vitamin K and A and minerals like potassium and iron.

The nutrients in prunes can benefit heart health, reduce colon cancer risks, and even assist in weight control by curbing hunger.

Summary: Prunes are nutrient-rich. Eating five dried prunes can give vegetarians 9% of the daily recommended iodine intake.

9. Lima beans

Lima beans are a crucial ingredient in the well-known Native American dish called succotash, a combination of lima beans and corn.

These beans benefit the heart due to their high fiber, magnesium, and folate content.

Suggested read: Top 10 vegan sources of calcium

They also serve as a decent source of iodine for vegetarians or vegans.

The iodine content in fruits and vegetables can differ based on the soil, water, and fertilizers used.

On average, a cup of cooked lima beans has 16 mcg of iodine, meeting 10% of the recommended daily intake.

Summary: Lima beans are loaded with fiber, magnesium, folate, and iodine. A cup of them, when cooked, gives about 10% of the daily iodine requirement.

Summary

Iodine is a vital mineral, but not many foods have a high content of it.

Because of this, many individuals globally might face a deficiency.

Top iodine-rich foods include seaweed, dairy products, tuna, shrimp, and eggs. Plus, most regular table salt is iodized, making it simple to include more iodine in your diet.

These iodine sources are nutritious and easy to incorporate into everyday meals.

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