Iodine-rich foods are what you need for a healthier thyroid, so check out our list of foods below to find out if you’re getting the right amount.
In this article:
- Iodine and the Thyroid
- Dietary Requirement and Iodine Deficiency
- Iodine Deficiency Disorders and Complications
- 19 Iodine-Containing Foods to Add to Your Meal Plan
- Taking Iodine Supplements
What Foods Are Rich in Iodine? | 19 Iodine-Rich Foods You Can Eat for a Healthier Thyroid
Iodine and the Thyroid
The thyroid gland is found in the lower front area of the neck. Its function is to absorb iodine to create the thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
Iodine Definition: An element needed by the thyroid to produce hormones
Every cell in the human body depends on these thyroid hormones for metabolism regulation. They help in energy conversion, temperature regulation, and proper organ functioning.
Dietary Requirement and Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is an important mineral we have to get from food because our bodies cannot produce it. A person who does not meet his or her daily iodine requirements can develop iodine deficiency.
The recommended daily intake of iodine for adults is 150 micrograms (mcg) per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 200 mcg a day.
Iodine Deficiency Disorders and Complications
Iodine deficiency can progress to a thyroid disease called hypothyroidism if left untreated. This condition may include the following complications and symptoms:
- Weight gain
- Muscle weakness
- Heart disease
- Mental health problems
- Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
- Ovulation impairment in women
In pregnant women, low thyroid hormone levels can increase the risk of giving birth to babies with birth defects. Iodine deficiency in pregnant women can cause:
- Preterm delivery
- Congenital abnormalities
19 Iodine-Containing Foods to Add to Your Meal Plan
Eat these great sources of iodine for optimal thyroid function:
What’s good about iodized salt is it can provide 47% of your daily recommended iodine intake. On the other hand, it contains sodium, which can affect a person’s blood pressure.
What you can do is use iodized salt in moderation. Doing this helps prevent high blood pressure as you work toward keeping your thyroid healthy.
Tip: Try to get about 150 mcg of iodine daily. A quarter of a teaspoon of iodized salt contains 71 mcg of iodine.
A very good source of iodine, shrimp also contain nutrients such as Vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium. Shrimp is also a type of seafood that’s low in calories and rich in proteins, so you’ll benefit in many ways from this food.
It wouldn’t hurt to have your fill of cooked shrimp every once in a while, right? Besides, it also tastes good and is packed with nutrients your body needs, especially your thyroid.
Tip: Cooking it the healthiest way allows you to maximize the health benefits of shrimp. What you can do is cook the shrimp in a pan for two minutes on each side using olive oil.
Once cooked, the shrimp should have a bright pinkish shade, and then you’ll know it’s ready to eat.
Seaweeds (or sea vegetables) are iodine-rich foods you should also eat for a healthier thyroid. Their iodine content depends on the type of species you eat.
Nori, the greenish-black wrapper you see in your sushi, contains 37 mcg of iodine per sheet. On the other hand, wakame and kombu kelp, the brown seaweeds commonly used in Japanese soups, have higher iodine content.
- Kombu Kelp – It can contain up to 2984 mcg of iodine per gram, exceeding the recommended daily iodine intake.
- Wakame – This seaweed’s iodine content ranges from 66 mcg to 139 mcg of iodine per gram, about 44-93% iodine content you need daily.
- Arame – A tablespoon of arame has about 730 mcg of iodine.
- Hiziki – A tablespoon of hiziki has about 780 mcg of iodine. It also contains iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Other Health Benefits of Eating Seaweeds:
- Boosts your vitamins and minerals intake (Vitamins A, C, K, zinc, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron)
- Good source of omega-3 fats
- Contains antioxidants that protect your cells
- A good source of fiber and polysaccharides that promotes a healthier gut
- Increase metabolism to help in weight loss
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
Aside from shrimp, one of the foods rich in iodine you’ll love is turkey breast. It’s delicious, and it also promotes thyroid health.
Just get yourself three ounces of turkey breast, and you can get 23% of the recommended daily intake of iodine.
Other Health Benefits of Turkey Breast:
- High in zinc, potassium, and B vitamins
- Packed with protein
- Low in cholesterol and saturated fat
- Reduces the risk of cancer
- High in tryptophan which helps boosts mood and regulates sleep hormones
- Lowers the bad cholesterol that causes diseases
Tip: Avoid cooking it in oil to get the maximum health benefits of turkey breast (without skin). What you can do is bake and season it with salt, pepper, and herbs.
Tuna is another seafood you can eat from our list of iodine-rich foods.
You can get 11% of the daily value of iodine from three ounces of tuna canned in oil. That’s about half the can, so you’ll feel full and satisfied after eating it.
What makes tuna good is it’s a protein-rich, low-calorie food packed with B vitamins, iron, and potassium.
Eggs are also a good source of iodine, and you can easily add this to your thyroid diet. A large egg can give you up to 16% of the recommended daily intake of iodine.
Aside from iodine, eggs are also packed with vitamins and minerals your body needs. To know more about the other health benefits of eggs, check out the list below.
Other Health Benefits of Eggs:
- Enriched with omega-3 fats
- Excellent sources of protein
- Packed with nutrients such as Vitamins A, B2, B5, B6 B12, D, E, K, folate, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, and zinc
- Good sources of choline
- Raise good cholesterol to reduce the risk of diseases
- Contain antioxidants that promote a healthier eyesight
- Contain the essential amino acids
- Promote weight loss
An ounce of raw and fresh organic cheese contains about 15 mcg of iodine. It’s relatively high in iodine, and it’s also rich in calcium, protein, and B vitamins.
For those who are sensitive to dairy products and are vegan, cheese may not be your cup of tea. You can always refer to the other iodine-rich foods from this list to get the daily recommended iodine value in your diet.
Support your thyroid health with another food that’s rich in iodine content—cod.
Cod is a white fish that’s low in calories and fat, so you’ll want this in your diet right away. It’s delicious, even if it has a mild flavor.
This seafood is also a great source of Vitamin E, calcium, and potassium. Three ounces of cod can give you about 66% of the daily recommended intake of iodine, so it can surely help your thyroid health.
Prunes are also iodine-rich foods you’ll love. You can get 13 mcg of iodine from five dried prunes.
They also promote healthy digestion. When you’re constipated, just get a handful of prunes, and you’re good to go.
Aside from this, prunes are high in fiber, Vitamin A, potassium, and iron.
Dairy products often have high iodine content, and yogurt sure does. At around 75 mcg a cup, one serving of yogurt can provide you more than half of the recommended daily iodine intake.
Additionally, yogurt contains healthy probiotics that promote a healthy digestive system.
A hundred grams of scallops can provide around 90% of your daily iodine requirement. They’re also a great source of protein, phosphorus, and vitamin B12.
One serving or 250 ml of pre-processed milk can contain around 88 mcg of iodine. If you love dairy, drinking raw unpasteurized milk is a healthier option with 20 amino acids, probiotics, and calcium.
Lima beans are a great source of iodine for vegans and vegetarians.
Since iodine in soil, fertilizers, and irrigation water may vary, so does iodine contents of fruits and vegetables. A cup of cooked lima beans contains around 16 mcg of iodine on average.
Seaweed is known to be rich with minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. It’s also low in calories. Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, but depending on its type and where it is from, iodine levels may vary. Wakame, nori, and kombu kelp are the most popular types of seaweed.
Wakame is a type of brown seaweed that has a slightly sweet taste. It’s the seaweed that’s used in the making of miso soup. 1 gram of wakame seaweed is known to meet 44% of the recommended daily intake.
Nori is a red seaweed; it has lower iodine content when compared to brown seaweeds. It’s generally used in sushi rolls. 1 gram of nori seaweed provides 11-29% of recommended daily intake.
Kombu kelp is another type of brown seaweed. It’s usually sold as a powder or dried. 1 gram of kombu kelp is known to provide 2.000% of the recommended daily intake.
Cape Cod Cranberries
Cape cod cranberries are rich in antioxidants. They grow close to the sea, and the closer they are to the sea, the higher level of iodine they contain. 4 ounces of cape cod cranberry can provide 400 mcg of iodine. If you buy processed cranberry juice, make sure to check the added sugar levels.
Potatoes are one of the most consumed vegetables, and they can be added to almost every meal. And they are a great source of iodine. A potato dish can provide about 33.3% to 52.7% of your daily recommended intake.
Banana is an energy-boosting fruit thanks to its high potassium content. A medium-sized banana can provide you with 3 mcg of iodine, which meets 2% of the recommended daily intake.
According to the US National Institute of Health, half a cup of canned creamed corn can provide 14 mcg of iodine. Just like other vegetables, the iodine levels may vary depending on where the corn is grown. Most corn is genetically modified, so when you’re buying corn, make sure it’s organic and GMO-free.
Strawberries are rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s also rich in iodine. 1 cup of strawberries can provide you with 13 mcg of iodine, which meets 10% of your daily recommended intake.
Taking Iodine Supplements
If your iodine levels are low, your doctor may recommend iodine supplements. Typically, your doctor checks your iodine levels through a urine test before the recommendation.
If the deficiency is causing hypothyroidism, doctors may recommend taking iodine tablets or kelp supplements. For more serious conditions like radiation exposure, doctors may prescribe iodine supplements in stronger formulas.
Here is a quick recipe on how to make iodine-rich bread from Dr. Seeds:
As you add this list of iodine-rich foods in your diet, be sure to have everything in moderation. Having too much is often bad for your health.
Instead of promoting a healthier thyroid, you may be compromising the other parts of your body from overconsumption.
Do you have anything else to add to our list of iodine-rich foods for a healthier thyroid? Feel free to tell us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 30, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.