Iodine: Main Image

How to Use It

Since the introduction of iodized salt, iodine supplements are unnecessary and not recommended for most people. For strict vegetarians who avoid salt and sea vegetables, 150 mcg per day is commonly supplemented. This amount is adequate to prevent a deficiency and higher amounts are not necessary.

Where to Find It

Seafood, iodized salt, and sea vegetables—for example, kelp—are high in iodine. Processed food may contain added iodized salt. Iodine is frequently found in dairy products. Vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil also contain this mineral.

Possible Deficiencies

People who avoid dairy, seafood, processed food, and iodized salt can become deficient. Iodine deficiency can cause low thyroid function, goiter, and cretinism. Although iodine deficiencies are now uncommon in Western societies, the U.S. population has shown a trend of significantly decreasing iodine intake from 1988–1994.1 If this trend continues, iodine deficiency diseases may become more common.

Severe iodine deficiency during critical periods of brain development can lead to physical abnormalities and profound mental impairment. Little is known about the effects of mild iodine deficiency on neurological development and cognitive function. Iodine deficiency has become more common in New Zealand because if the lower concentration of iodine in milk resulting from the discontinuation of the use of iodine-containing sanitizers in the dairy industry and because of the declining use of iodized salt along with increasing consumption of processed foods made with non-iodized salt. 184 children (aged 10 to 13 years) in Dunedin, New Zealand, were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, 150 mcg/day of iodine or placebo for 28 weeks. At baseline, children were mildly iodine-deficient (median urinary iodine concentration, 63 mcg/L; thyroglobulin concentration, 16.4 mcg/L). After 28 weeks, iodine status improved in the supplemented group (urinary iodine concentration, 145 mcg/L; thyroglobulin, 8.5 mcg/L), whereas the placebo group remained iodine-deficient. Iodine supplementation significantly improved scores on 2 of 4 tests of cognitive function assessed. The overall cognitive score was significantly greater in the iodine group than in the placebo group (p = 0.011). Iodine supplementation had no significant effect on the serum total T4 level. It is concluded that iodine supplementation improved cognitive function in mildly iodine-deficient children, and that mild iodine deficiency could prevent children from attaining their full intellectual potential.

Best Form to Take

Common iodine supplement preparations include potassium iodide, potassium iodate, and a combination of iodine and potassium iodide, otherwise known as Lugol’s solution.2

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2022.