Top 10 Healthy Foods That Are Rich in Iodine

by Ella

Iodine, a trace element crucial for thyroid function and overall health, often goes unnoticed among the array of nutrients our bodies require. However, its role in maintaining a healthy thyroid gland, regulating metabolism, and supporting cognitive development, particularly during pregnancy, is paramount. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the significance of iodine, explore its functions within the body, and highlight nine nutritious foods that can help you maintain optimal iodine levels for your well-being.

Understanding the Importance of Iodine

Iodine is an essential mineral required for the production of thyroid hormones—thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones play a pivotal role in regulating metabolic processes, including energy production and consumption, as well as maintaining the body’s temperature. Additionally, iodine supports brain development in fetuses and infants, making it a vital nutrient during pregnancy and early childhood.


1. Iodine’s Role in Thyroid Health

a. Thyroid Hormone Production: The thyroid gland requires iodine to synthesize thyroid hormones, which are instrumental in managing metabolism, growth, and development.


b. Metabolic Regulation: Thyroid hormones influence the body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), affecting how quickly calories are burned for energy.


c. Cognitive Development: Adequate iodine intake during pregnancy and infancy is essential for proper brain development, contributing to cognitive and intellectual functions.


See Also: What to Eat for Thyroid Health: A Perfect Meal Plan

2. Iodine Deficiency and Health Implications

a. Hypothyroidism: A deficiency in iodine can lead to an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold.

b. Goiter: Insufficient iodine intake can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, leading to the development of a goiter—a visible swelling in the neck area.

c. Cognitive Impairment: Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early childhood can impair brain development, potentially leading to cognitive and intellectual deficits.

How much iodine per day?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source, the recommended daily intake for iodine is 150 mcg in adult men and women. In the United States and Canada, just one teaspoon of iodized salt contains 250 mcg. This makes it relatively easy to meet the RDI.

It is important to note the iodine recommendation for pregnant females is significantly higher, at 220 mcg.

Because the risk of iodine deficiency drastically increases during pregnancy, the American Thyroid Association recommends that people planning on becoming pregnant take a daily prenatal vitamin containing at least 150 mcg of iodine.


  • 0-6 months: 110 micrograms (mcg) per day
  • 7-12 months: 130 mcg per day


  • 1-3 years: 90 mcg per day
  • 4-8 years: 90 mcg per day
  • 9-13 years: 120 mcg per day

Adolescents and Adults:

  • Males and females aged 14-18 years: 150 mcg per day
  • Males and females aged 19 and older: 150 mcg per day

Top Foods High in Iodine

While iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid disorders and other health issues, consuming foods rich in iodine can help ensure an adequate intake.

1. Seaweed and Seaweed Products:

Seaweed, such as kelp, nori, and wakame, is renowned for its exceptionally high iodine content. A 1-gram serving of dried kelp can provide around 2,000 to 4,500 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Seaweed is a natural and concentrated source of iodine, making it a staple in many iodine-rich diets.

Considerations: While iodine is essential, excessive consumption of iodine-rich seaweed may lead to thyroid dysfunction. Moderation is key.

2. Fish and Seafood:

Fish like cod, tuna, shrimp, and haddock are excellent sources of iodine. A 3-ounce serving of cooked cod can provide around 99 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Fish not only provide iodine but also offer high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids for heart and brain health.

Considerations: Variability in iodine content can exist due to factors like fish species and oceanic iodine levels.

3. Dairy Products:

Dairy foods, including milk and yogurt, contribute to iodine intake. One cup of cow’s milk offers roughly 56 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Dairy is a convenient iodine source for many people and provides other essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.

Considerations: Iodine content in dairy can be influenced by the cow’s diet and iodine supplementation.

4. Iodized Salt:

Iodized table salt contains added potassium iodide, providing about 45 micrograms of iodine per 1/4 teaspoon.

Benefits: Iodized salt is a simple way to enhance iodine intake, especially in regions where iodine deficiency is a concern.

Considerations: While iodized salt can prevent deficiency, excessive salt intake has its own health risks.

5. Eggs:

Eggs contain iodine, with one large egg supplying approximately 24 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Eggs are a versatile food rich in iodine and other nutrients like protein, choline, and B vitamins.

Considerations: Iodine content in eggs can vary based on the chicken’s diet and geographic location.

6. Prunes and Cranberries:

Prunes and cranberries provide moderate amounts of iodine. A 1/4-cup serving of dried cranberries offers around 45 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: These fruits contribute to iodine intake and provide antioxidants and dietary fiber.

Considerations: While not as iodine-rich as some other foods, they can still be part of a balanced diet.

7. Strawberries:

Strawberries offer iodine, with one cup providing approximately 13 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Strawberries are low in calories and packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Considerations: While not a primary iodine source, strawberries contribute to overall nutrient intake.

8. Navy Beans:

Legumes like navy beans contain iodine, with a half-cup serving supplying around 32 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Navy beans are high in fiber, protein, and various micronutrients, making them a nutritious choice.

Considerations: Legumes contribute to iodine intake, but their content may vary based on growing conditions.

9. Potatoes:

Potatoes can provide iodine, although levels depend on soil iodine. One medium baked potato offers roughly 60 micrograms of iodine.

Benefits: Potatoes are a staple food rich in carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamins.

Considerations: Soil iodine levels influence potato iodine content; consuming a variety of iodine sources is recommended.

10. Iodine-Fortified Foods:

Certain foods like bread and cereals may be fortified with iodine, contributing to daily intake. Iodine-fortified bread can provide around 150 micrograms per slice.

Benefits: Fortified foods can help meet iodine needs, particularly when natural sources are limited.

Considerations: Check food labels for iodine fortification information, and be mindful of overall nutrient intake.

Iodized Salt

Iodized salt is table salt that has been fortified with iodine, an essential trace element. The purpose of iodizing salt is to prevent iodine deficiency, a condition that can lead to various health problems, especially related to thyroid function. Iodine deficiency is a global concern, and iodized salt has been introduced in many countries as a simple and effective way to ensure that people receive sufficient iodine in their diets.

Here are some key points about iodized salt:

1. Preventing Iodine Deficiency: Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism and various physiological processes. Iodine deficiency can lead to thyroid gland enlargement (goiter) and can also result in developmental issues, particularly in pregnant women and infants.

2. Iodine’s Natural Distribution: While iodine is naturally present in certain foods, its distribution in the soil can be uneven, leading to variations in the iodine content of crops. This is why iodine deficiency can occur in regions with low soil iodine levels, even if people consume locally grown foods.

3. Iodized Salt Process: Iodized salt is produced by adding a small amount of potassium iodide or potassium iodate to regular table salt. The iodine is evenly distributed throughout the salt, making it an effective means of delivering iodine to a population.

6. Usage and Consumption: Iodized salt can be used in cooking and food preparation just like regular salt. It can be incorporated into various dishes and recipes without altering the taste significantly.

7. Potential Excess Intake: While iodized salt is an effective way to prevent deficiency, it’s also important not to consume excessive amounts of iodine. Very high iodine intake, whether from iodized salt or other sources, can lead to thyroid dysfunction. It’s generally recommended to stick to the recommended dietary intake.

See Also: Sea Salt vs. Table Salt: What’s the Difference?

Balancing Iodine Intake

1. Avoid Excessive Intake: While iodine is essential, excessive intake can lead to thyroid dysfunction. It’s important to aim for a balanced intake through a variety of iodine-rich foods.

2. Be Mindful of Supplements: If you’re considering iodine supplements, consult a healthcare provider, as excessive supplementation can have adverse effects.

3. Dietary Diversity: A varied diet that includes a range of iodine-rich foods helps ensure you meet your nutritional needs.


Iodine’s role in thyroid function, metabolic regulation, and cognitive development underscores its importance for overall health. Incorporating iodine-rich foods into your diet—such as seafood, dairy products, eggs, and certain fruits and vegetables—can help you maintain optimal iodine levels. However, striking a balance is key, as both deficiency and excess iodine intake can lead to health complications. By nurturing your body with essential nutrients like iodine, you pave the way for better health, vitality, and well-being. If you have specific dietary needs or concerns, consider consulting a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized guidance.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023