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​What Else Do I Need To Know About Iodine?

​What Else Do I Need To Know About Iodine?

We discussed a lot about iodine in our first blog – Iodine: Why You Need It And Why You’ll Love It! and it’s vitally important that you read that blog first, to gain an understanding of what we discuss below.

Where Do We Find Iodine?

We can get iodine by eating iodine-rich foods and taking iodine supplements. Foods containing iodine include:

  • ocean seafood (such as fish especially baked cod shrimps and seaweed),
  • potatoes,
  • lima beans,
  • corn,
  • cranberries,
  • strawberries,
  • prunes,
  • plums,
  • bananas,
  • iodised salt
  • unique types of salt (Celtic Sea salt and Himalayan pink crystal salt)
  • pasture-raised organic eggs
  • traditionally produced dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese in raw organic form)

Based upon micrograms per serving and daily value (DV) of iodine, the top food sources of iodine include: 36

  1. Seaweed — Whole or 1 sheet: 16 to 2,984 micrograms (11 percent to 1,989 percent)
  2. Baked Cod — 3 ounces: 99 micrograms (66 percent)
  3. Cranberries — 1 ounce: 90 micrograms (60 percent)
  4. Plain Low-Fat Yogurt — 1 cup: 75 micrograms (50 percent) I’m not advocating low fat dairy though.
  5. Baked Potato — 1 medium: 60 micrograms (40 percent)
  6. Raw Milk — 1 cup: 56 micrograms (37 percent)
  7. Shrimp — 3 ounces: 35 micrograms (23 percent)
  8. Navy Beans — ½ cup: 32 micrograms (21 percent)
  9. Egg — 1 large egg: 24 micrograms (16 percent)
  10. Dried Prunes — 5 prunes: 13 micrograms (9 percent)


Iodine in Salt

Iodized salt usually contains potassium iodide in the range of 76mcg per ¼ teaspoon of salt, as well as 580mg of sodium 36. However, because table salt carries health concerns, I recommend Himalayan crystal salt, which has variable levels of iodine, which is not added unnaturally like we see with iodized salt. Click here to learn more about which salt is better for you.

How Do I Know If I’m Iodine Deficient?

To learn about Iodine testing click here.

How Much Iodine Should I Take?

Below are the guidelines for iodine developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.37 The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is listed in micrograms (mcg). Note that if you have a thyroid condition, whether hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, your healthcare provider’s specific recommendations for iodine intake may vary from these standard recommendations.

Iodine Doses for The Upper Tolerable Intake Level, UL

  • Adults 19 years and over 150 mcg and should avoid prolonged use of doses higher than 1100 mcg per day without proper medical advice.
  • Pregnant women should ideally take 220 mcg
  • Breastfeeding women 290 mcg

In children:

  • Doses should not exceed 200 mcg per day for 1 to 3 years old children,
  • 300 mcg per day for children 4 to 8 years old,
  • 600 mcg per day for children 9 to 13 years old,
  • 900 mcg per day for adolescents.

Some healthcare experts, recommend higher servings than described here and suggest that these recommendations are insufficient to provide all the iodine the body requires. However, as with everything, there is an upper limit to how much iodine you should consume.

Most doctors have been trained to believe that iodine is toxic to the thyroid gland. They believe that iodine will precipitate a thyroid problem or if one already has a thyroid problem, iodine will make it worse. This is where some of the controversy lies as more and more holistic doctors are trialling iodine usage with patients who have thyroid autoimmune issues, and they are seeing significant results. Dr Bronstein, Medical Director of the Centre for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan says that,38

The NHANES and other data clearly show iodine levels have been falling over the last 30-40 years and thyroid illnesses have been increasing. If iodine were a toxic agent to the thyroid, we would see hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disorders such as Graves’ and Hashimoto’s disease falling during this time period, not rising.”

“Animal studies show that you cannot cause Hashimoto’s disease in an animal unless they are iodine deficient, and they are given a goitrogen. That is what is happening to our human population; we are iodine deficient, and we are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of goitrogens like bromide and fluoride.”

Brownstein is the author of Iodine: Why You Need It. Why You Can’t Live Without It. 5th Edition and believes that the current RDA for iodine is inadequate to supply the body’s need for iodine.

“When you couple in the increasing exposure to toxic halides such as bromine, fluoride, and chlorine derivatives, our iodine requirements have markedly increased over the years. My experience has shown that iodine in doses ranging from 6-50 mg/day (i.e., 6000 – 50,000 mcg) is adequate to provide iodine for the vast majority of the population. Finally, it is important to use the right kind of salt: unrefined salt.”

This dosage far exceeds the RDA for iodine however if you wish to explore this further Brownstein has several books that he has written on these topics. There are also a number of other integrative doctors and endocrinologists who reiterate similar observations in their books or research papers including Dr. Eric Osansky in his books, “Natural Treatment Solutions for Hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease” and “Hashimoto’s Triggers.”

I encourage you to explore their observations further.

Types of Iodine in Supplements.

Iodine supplementation may be needed if you don’t get enough iodine in your diet. Iodine is found in many multivitamins with minerals and multi-mineral formulas and as stand-alone iodine supplements. To learn about the available types of Iodine in supplements and what you need to know about iodine if you’re on medications click here.

Medical Iodine

Side Effects of Iodine Ingestion.

Although iodine side effects are rare, some people report minor concerns including a metallic taste in the mouth, burning, nausea, headache, or diarrhea. When taking higher doses of potassium iodide immediately after radiation exposure, people have reported skin rashes, swelling of the salivary glands, or in more severe cases, difficulty breathing.

If you have dermatitis herpetiformis, an itchy skin rash often caused by gluten intolerance or autoimmune disease, iodine may worsen the condition. Iodine may interact with certain medications, especially thyroid medication. Mild interactions may occur with medications that contain lithium, medications for high blood pressure, diuretic water pills, and iodine-containing products for heart conditions.

If you recently moved from an iodine-deficient region, like eastern Europe or Africa, your body might overcompensate for increased iodine in your diet. According to the American Thyroid Association, people in iodine-deficient areas have adapted to functioning with extremely minute amounts of iodine, and a sudden increase in iodine may cause symptoms of a thyroid disorder.17

People have a wide variance in how much iodine their bodies can tolerate before expressing symptoms of overdose, and further, that a person’s thyroid adapts to high amounts of iodine in a biological feedback loop that allows the body to maintain its healthy functioning (this even has a name: the Wolff-Chaikoff effect).39 People with autoimmune diseases, particularly those affecting the thyroid, are most at risk of experiencing negative health issues from consuming higher servings of iodine. When Dr Bronstein was asked “If it’s fine for people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis to take iodine, then why do some people feel bad when supplementing with iodine?”

He replied, Iodine can cause a detoxification reaction whereby the body releases bromide. I believe this is where many of the adverse effects are coming from. I explain this in my books. My experience has clearly shown that vast majority of patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders improve with iodine when it is used as part of a holistic treatment regimen. Do some react negatively to iodine? Yes. Iodine is not for everyone, but my clinical experience has clearly shown adverse effects to iodine are rare when it is used appropriately.”38

If you are wanting to explore higher doses of iodine it makes sense to work with a holistic, integrative health practitioner.

Iodine and Medications.

Iodine supplements can interact or interfere with medicines that you take. Click here for several examples 40:

How Do We Use Iodine as a Family?

As a family we have always used iodine topically on cuts, wounds, and infections, as an anti-septic (see Types of Iodine in Supplements). As an example, when one of us has a sore gum, we drop some iodine onto the tooth and gum and using a toothbrush, give it a good clean. We repeat this a couple of times and find the iodine helps the immune system fight off infection.

From personal experience when I decided to increase my iodine intake to help recover from a period of sustained stress, I focused on dietary sources of iodine and selenium and daily use of Lugol’s iodine. I used it topically on my face and neck each day for a few weeks and I genuinely felt it fortify my weary endocrine system. I didn’t use an iodine supplement, nor a multivitamin containing iodine, just a few drops of Lugol’s iodine solution mixed every night with a clean organic moisturiser on my face and neck.

It was like someone took me off the roller coaster and sat me down and held my swirling head. I felt clearer and sturdier than I had in a long time. I used it daily for a few weeks and then backed it off to a few times a week. Every few days I also mixed some into my toothpaste. Now I use it on my skin once a week and I wouldn’t go without including it in my weekly routine. I also focus on making sure I’m eating iodine rich foods. I do take a premium glutathione supplement Cellgevity that contains selenium however, it’s one of two supplements that I take daily, (and because I will get emails asking what supplements I take) the other daily supplement is magnesium. I also take activated B’s and probiotics a few times a week.
iodine food sources

In Closing

We’ve covered a lot in these two blogs, and as we finish up this discussion on iodine let me be clear, our ultimate goal from these insights should be to consistently support and strengthen our thyroid gland and our entire endocrine system.

It is therefore imperative that we minimize our stress levels as stress creates a hormone response that negatively impacts our thyroid function.41 Exercise is a natural and extremely effective way to combat stress and can also help stimulate the secretion of thyroid hormones.42 Getting enough sleep also helps support a healthy thyroid and these hormones can directly impact our sleep quality. Avoiding toxins like plastics (BPA), pesticides and halides (fluoride, chlorine, bromine) are a smart strategy as well they can have a detrimental effect on thyroid function.

Following a clean, low tox diet is also one of the easiest ways to support your thyroid. Eat selenium-rich foods, as well as iodine-rich foods, as you now know – both are necessary for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. When considering your diet, incorporate gluten-free grains since gluten has been associated with autoimmune thyroid diseases.43 Finally, don’t forget to take care of your liver as this helps with vitamin A conversion and uptake. A healthy liver supports thyroid function.43 For a greater understanding on what else you can do to look after your thyroid please see our related blog, What Role Do Halides, Perchlorates and other Chemicals Play in Iodine Deficiency, Thyroid Disorders, Fertility Issues and Cancer?


Yours in health,

Jennifer Barham-Floreani,
Bach. Chiropractic, Bach. App Clinical Science
Registered internationally, no longer practicing as a chiropractor in Australia.



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