Got Iodine? Maybe. Maybe not.

It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that all of the nutrients we need are covered in diet alone. Iodine is a good case in point. While iodine fortification of salt has helped reduce the incidence of goiter and some of the most serious cases of the mineral’s deficiency, there are still gaps between our needs and what the diet supplies.

In the United States and other industrialized nations, people still experience sluggish metabolism, low energy levels, and overall fatigue and poor health due to a low supply of iodine. Some of this can be explained by individuals pulling back from using table salt because of heart health concerns. But the foods we eat and the environment itself may be to blame as well. Bromines used to purify refined flour and chlorine in the water supply can compete with iodine receptor sites in the body – even if you eat iodine-rich foods, it might still not be enough to measure up.

German surveys have found that iodine deficiencies are surprisingly common there as well. They revealed that 32 percent of adults and 33 percent of children were suffering from mild to moderate iodine deficiency. 

One way to overcome this is by eating more iodine-rich foods. Cod, shrimp, sardines, yogurt, scallops, and kelp are all excellent sources. Supplementation with iodine is another way to ensure you are getting a stable level each day. For a complete supplemental form, look for one that includes various sources of iodine to work best at differing receptors in the body, like potassium iodide, iodine from kelp, and sodium iodide.



Gärtner R. Recent data on iodine intake in Germany and Europe. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2016 Sep;37:85-89.

Iodine is essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. These regulate metabolism, promote growth, development and maturation of all organs, especially the brain. Most iodine is found in oceans and most continental soil and ground water is deficient in iodine. Therefore, around 2 billion individuals are estimated to have insufficient iodine intake and are at risk of iodine deficiency disorders. The best carrier for save iodine supplementation is salt, as the daily intake of salt is mainly constant. Due to the collaboration between international and national organisations and the salt industry, many developing and developed countries introduced universal salt iodization (USI) or have mandatory or voluntary fortification programs. In Germany as in most European countries the use of iodized salt is voluntary not only in household but also in the food industry. Two recent epidemiological surveys in Germany revealed that 33% of children and 32% of adults are still suffering from mild to moderate iodine deficiency. The best surrogate parameter for iodine deficiency is goitre. The goitre prevalence is around 30% in children as well as in adults which is in accordance with the documented iodine deficiency. From other European countries epidemiological derived data on iodine intake are only available from Denmark and Poland. Further efforts are under way to reveal the iodine status with proper methods in all European countries. On this background it might be possible to establish adequate iodine fortification programs in all European countries.

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Terry is happy to provide his opinion on diet and nutrition, supplements and lifestyle choices. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician and is not to be considered medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Should you have any concerns please contact your physician directly.

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