Iodine Deficiency


Did you know that worldwide, about 40% of the population is at risk of iodine deficiency?

Iodine is an element that’s needed for the production of thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. Our bodies do not make iodine, so it’s an essential part of our diet. If you don’t have enough iodine in your body, you cannot make enough of the thyroid hormones for the thyroid to function properly.

Eating foods rich in iodine ensures the thyroid is able to manage metabolism, detoxification, as well as growth and development. Research has shown that the lack of dietary iodine may lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland, hypothyroidism, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain, mental retardation in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy, and possibly even mental states such as anxiety and depression. The good news is that there are many popular foods with iodine, several of which I have listed below, that are easy to incorporate into your everyday diet.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150 micrograms daily for everybody over the age of 14. The RDA for children ages 1-8 is 90/mcg every day, ages 9-13 is 120/mcg every day. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it is recommended that you get 290/mcg every day.


For women who are pregnant, getting adequate iodine in your diet is one of the most effective ways of reducing mental retardation. Children of mothers with severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy can also develop problems with proper bone and brain development, hearing, and speech.

After the CDC measured the blood and urine of thousands of Americans across the country, they found for the first time in 2012 that women between the ages of 25 and 39 are borderline iodine insufficient. Some of you may be thinking, “How does this happen in a country full of salt and processed food?” Well... in the US, 80% of the sodium that we use and consume contains no iodine. Most processed foods do not contain iodized salt, they just contain salt.  Likewise, many of the Himalayan pink salts, kosher salts, and sea salts contain very marginal amounts of iodine.

So, what is recommended for pregnant women?

The American Thyroid Association recommends that all women who are planning on becoming pregnant, or who are already pregnant should take a prenatal vitamin that contains 150mcg of iodine. Continue taking your prenatal while breastfeeding also, to ensure that your baby is getting the adequate amount of iodine.


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Sea vegetables: includes Kelp, Arame, Hiziki, Kombu, and Wakame. Kelp has the highest amount of iodine of any food on the planet and just one serving offers 4 times the daily minimum requirement.

  • 1Tbs of Kelp contains about 2000/mcg of iodine
  • 1Tbs of Arame contains about 730/mcg of iodine
  • 1Tbs of Hiziki contains about 780/mcg of iodine
  • 1 piece of Kombu contains about 1450/mcg of iodine
  • 1Tbs of Wakame contains about 80/mcg of iodine

*I recommend sprinkling Maine Coast’s Granulated Sea Veggie blends into your soups, salads, smoothies, or scrambled eggs. You can also add kombu to your pot of quinoa or rice before bringing it to a boil.


Cranberries: about 4oz of cranberries contain approximately 400/mcg of iodine. I recommend buying fresh organic berries rather than juice. If you do buy cranberry juice from the store, be aware of how much sugar it contains.

Organic Yogurt: A natural probiotic, yogurt is an excellent iodine food you should add to your diet. One serving holds more than half of your daily needs. 1 cup contains approximately 90/mcg of iodine.

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Organic Navy Beans: just ½ a cup of navy beans contain about 32/mcg of iodine. Beans aren’t just an iodine rich food, they are also incredibly high in fiber.

Organic Strawberries: This tasty red fruit packs up to 10% of your daily iodine needs in just a single serving. One cup of fresh strawberries has approximately 13/mcg of iodine.

Organic Potatoes: potatoes are one of the richest sources of iodine in the vegetable kingdom. Leave the skin on and one medium-sized baked potato holds 60/mcg of iodine. I recommend always going organic when it comes to potatoes as they tend to be covered in pesticides.


More serious signs and symptoms:

  • Thyroid enlargement—sometimes called goiter
  • Mental Retardation
  •  Mental imbalances such as depression and anxiety
  • Fetal hypothyroidism (improper functioning of the thyroid in unborn children, leading to brain damage)
  • Autism

Other symptoms of Iodine Deficiency:

  • Slowed brain function
  • Slowed metabolism
  •  Lowered immunity
  • Emotional upset and anxiety
  • Cysts, soreness, and heaviness in breasts
  • Compromised organ function
  • Improper thyroid function          


*Be aware that for some, increased intake (especially in supplement form), can increase the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. Although those with iodine-deficiency induced hypothyroidism can benefit from added iodine, it is very important to always check with a doctor first!