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Natural Food Iodine Sources

August 21, 2012

By Joan McDaniel                                    August 21, 2012

What is Iodine?

If you backpack in the mountains, you may have used iodine tablets to purify your drinking water. Or, perhaps you’ve used an iodine-based disinfectant to clean a minor skin wound. But did you know that iodine is essential to life? I was first introduced to Iodine as a kid. Back in those days when we playing cowboys and Indians a skin scrape meant the sting of Iodine disinfectant as the fix. In 1829, a French physician, Dr. J.G.A. Lugol, developed a liquid form of iodine called Lugol’s Solution.  It combined elemental iodine with an iodine salt in the form of potassium iodide.  One of its uses was for low iodine health complications such as the reduction and reversal of qoiters.

Topical Iodine

The current day convenient antibiotic creams, started with the introduction of Bactine produced by Bayer. It was first developed in 1947 and first used in 1950. It is a topically-applied first aid liquid with active ingredients Benzaikonium chloride an antiseptic, and lidocain a topical anesthetic. As a topical anesthetic, Bactine serves to numb the surface of a body part and temporarily relieve pain and itching on the skin. The antiseptic ingredient in Bactine can also help to prevent infections.  The burn and sting of first aide was gone but not forgotten.

The sting from it can still be remembered. We now have a wide variety of disinfectant, antiseptic first aide products to choose from, although Iodine is still used in a hospital setting for surgery as a disinfectant and as a Radiocontrast agent.

Before Bactine there was Iodine, now we have a wide variety of antibiotic creams wipes, and swabs.

Is Iodine essential to life?

Iodine in nutrition is an essential trace mineral essential to human life.  Iodine is crucial in the functioning of the brain, the organs of your body and especially the thyroid gland, an organ that stores the minerals needed for the synthesis of our thyroid hormones.

It is important to get adequate amounts of iodine in your diet to ensure the proper functioning of this vital gland and the rest of your body.  The thyroid gland working with other glands of your body controls much of our metabolism in every cell of the body, detoxification, growth, physiological functions, and development.

Research has shown that a lack of iodine foods in your diet can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being. Lack of iodine can also lead to enlargement of the thyroid gland, lethargy, fatigue, weakness of the immune system, slow metabolism, autism, weight gain and possibly even mental states such as anxiety and depression. In my case, the weakness was so acute I could barely walk. A fungal infection was also raging in my lungs, throat and who knows where else.  I even had a bad case of dandruff which is a fungal infection.

In the last 10 years, the science behind iodine and the body’s uses of iodine has exploded. Contrary to what doctors are being taught in medical school, the thyroid gland is not the location that the body uses iodine.  Other areas are equally important, including the salivary glands, brain, stomach, ovaries and your eyes.  Women require much more iodine than men because breast tissue also uses iodine.

 Coconut Oil

As a side note about the Thyroid gland, Dr. Mercola in his article (See Sources) on thyroid health has written that many polyunsaturated and hydrogenated vegetable oils and oils from soybeans negatively affect thyroid health. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is a saturated fat made up primarily of medium chain fatty acids. Also known as medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), medium chain fatty acids are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. Coconut oil can also raise basal body temperatures while increasing metabolism. This is good news for people who suffer with low thyroid function. There have been scores of testimonies to this effect.

In the early part of the 20th century, iodine deficiency was quite common in the United States and Canada. Use of Iodized salt has decreased this deficiency. While many types of table salt are iodine-enriched, they are also stripped of all their natural health properties, and are chemically processed.                    Iodized Salt Advertisement

The bad news is that table and cooking salt found in most homes, restaurants, and processed foods is void of nutritional value, lacking beneficial trace minerals. Processing salt turns it into sodium chloride, an unnatural salt the human body actually sees as a toxic invader!

The Iodine in the salt is ineffective and can cause Hypertension or High Blood Pressure where a limit to salt is recommended.  The intake of salt has declined, but the intake of Sodium has increased.  Sodium does not contain Iodine.

The following report from Life Extension Magazine also talks about the reduction of Iodine due to the decrease in Salt intake in the Standard American Diet.

Life Extension Magazine October 2009
Halt on Salt Sparks Iodine Deficiency
Doctors say, “Cut back on the Salt…” But How Will We Obtain Our Iodine?
By William Davis, MD

The good news is that there are many popular foods with iodine, all of which are easy to incorporate into your daily diet.  There are also Iodine supplements available on the market.

Use of too much iodine from supplements may cause burning in the mouth, throat and stomach and/or abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Taking high doses of supplements and the treatment of possible thyroid disease you will need further advice from a knowledgeable healthcare provider. I have a partial list in Sources, of which I have yet not used.  Further research and use of search engines on the Internet is advised.  The Thyroid is very complex and everyone’s condition is unique.

It is difficult to take in too much iodine from food sources alone because the body will eliminate excess iodine it does not use. Daily consumption of iodine can range from 300 mcg to several thousand mcg’s. In general, even high intakes of iodine from food are well-tolerated by most people.

The following list will discuss the top foods that contain iodine.

Sea vegetables

The highest source for Iodine is Sea Vegetables. Note Kelp or Sea Vegetables are sold hydrated they need to be reconstituted in water for about 5 to 10 minutes.  You can find a variety of Kelp in most Health Food Stores or Asian Markets.

Types of Sea Vegetables available

  • Brown algae (including the commonly eaten sea vegetables kombu/kelp, wakame, and arame may be unique among the sea vegetables in their iodine content. Some species from the brown algae genus Laminaria are able to accumulate iodine in up to 30,000 times more concentrated a form than sea water!
  • Sea vegetables may be a unique food source not only of the mineral iodine, but also of the mineral vanadium. As part of their natural defense mechanisms, sea vegetables contain a variety of enzymes called haloperoxidases. These enzymes all require vanadium in order to function. Although this mineral is not as well known as some of the other mineral nutrients, it appears to play a multi-faceted role in regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar.
Green Algae Brown Algae Red Algae
Scientific Name Chlorophycophyta Phaeophycophyta Rhodophycophyta
Approximate Number of Species 7,000 4,000 2,000
Commonly Eaten Forms sea lettuce kombu/kelp (Laminaria genus) nori (Porphyra genus)
wakame (Undaria genus) agar-agar (Euchema genus)
arame (Eisenia genus) dulse (Palmaria genus)
hijiki (Hijikia genus)
Other Well-Studied Forms Caulerpa genus, Ulva genus, Chetomorpha genus Sargassum genus, Padina genus, Fucus genus (Atlantic brown kelp, also called bladderwrack) Euchema genus, Gracilaria genus, Gelidiella genus, Plocamium genus, Lithothamnium genus, Kappaphycus genus

Himalayan Crystal Salt

Salt mine from the Himalayan Mountains in India and Pakistan

HIMALAYAN CRYSTAL ROCK MINE www.himalayan-natural-salt-…

Sea Salt is an excellent source of Iodine and salt from the Himalayan mountains also known as pink salt, is an excellent source of naturally occurring iodine. Just one gram of Himalayan Sea Salt contains approximately 500/mcg of iodine.

Fresh Salmon

Since salmon go through both freshwater and saltwater phases during their life cycle, they can vary widely in their iodine content for this reason. While not a reliable source, salmon can sometimes provide up to 60-70 micrograms of iodine in about 3-4 ounces of fish, or about 40% of the recommended daily value.

Fresh Cranberries

This antioxidant rich fruit is a source of iodine. 4 ounces of cranberries contain approximately 400/mcg of iodine.  But it is very difficult to find the fresh berry.  I have found it available in October and at Christmas time.  The fresh cranberry is very tart, be sure and have plenty of Stevia on hand or mix the berry with other sugary fruit. Also note; you can freeze the cranberry.  Just don’t wash the fruit before freezing.  Once frozen, and thawed the berry is softer but still very good. The dried cranberry has had sugar added and all fruit juice is loaded with sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Organic Navy Beans

Many beans are a great food source of iodine, but navy beans may top the list. Just 1/2 cup of these beans contain about 32/mcg of iodine. Beans aren’t just an iodine food, they are also incredibly high in fiber.

Other concentrated food sources of iodine yogurt, cow’s milk, eggs, strawberries and mozzarella cheese.

1 cup of fresh strawberries has approximately 13/mcg of iodine.

Milk has about  55/mcg. To avoid many of the negative digestive effects of eating cow’s milk and cheese, raw organic goat’s milk and goat’s cheese is a healthier alternative for extracting iodine from dairy.

Taking Iodine Supplements

There are Iodine supplements available on the market. There are many different kinds.

Thyroid Doctors free testing, I have not used yet and do not recommend.

I Stopped My Hair LossI spent thousands on hair growth then I found this $39 solution…

Hypothyroid Hormone MDsThe Most Highly Trained Physicians in Hormones for

Hypothyroidism-Belly FatConsult Our Doctors to Know More About Hypothyroid. Visit Us

Other sources


  1. Leslie Ridenour permalink

    Really good and informative article. Who knew cranberries had iodine in them?
    Thank you.

    • Leslie
      For some reason all the things I craved during my illness have Iodine in it. My system was really telling me something. I ate dried cranberries by the handful. Cheddar Cheese also has Iodine and when I found the Pink Sea Salt I could not get enough. Other than the salt, the amount of Iodine is not a great deal for someone as low as I was.

      • Jane permalink

        I’m 35 and am already on 80something mcg of synthroid. I am more interested in taking a supplement for the ease, bu would prefer I not be synthetic- no pun intended! Any particular ones you like? And please tell us more about the Pink Sea Salt! Thanks so much!

      • Taking synthoid I found to be of no value. I was up to 175 mcg’s of synthoid and I just kept getting worse. My current Doctor told me nothing was wrong my blood test were perfect. I had to start taking Iodine on my own. I am up to 30 mg of Iodine a day. You have to get your own alternate medicine doctor or experiment on your own. The article on Thyroid gives links to online symptom test. Himalayan Sea salt is available on-line or at your local health food store.
        Thanks for the Remarks. Oh I no longer take synthoid it is T4 I needed T3 badly and my Thyroid was desperate for Iodine.

  2. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have learn this post and if I may I want to recommend you few fascinating issues or advice. Perhaps you could write subsequent articles regarding this article. I want to learn more issues about it!

  3. Thank you for bringing attention to iodine deficiency. Unfortunately, the soils are so depleted of iodine because of bromide pesticides (which purge iodine). Food is no longer the adequate source of iodine that it was 50 years ago. Iodine is the one supplement I would take to a desert island. This comes from both from my own life-changing experience taking iodine–as well as years of researching iodine.

    • Lynne Farrow
      Thank you for telling your story. Finding Iodine was a life saver for me. I started taking it slowly but I could just feel the energy come back.

  4. Thanks for the language conversion.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Natural Food Iodine Sources « Find Out Why: Fat, Cholesterol, Salt … | Diet Natural Weight Loss
  2. El yodo y la tiroides |

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