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7 Ways to Get More Iodine in Your Diet with Hypothyroidism

By

Denise Mann, MS

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sprinkling of salt

Your doctor suggested that you include more iodine in your diet, only you don't know where or how to start.

Iodine is a mineral that helps us convert food into energy. It also supports thyroid health. One of the reasons your doctor may have suggested that you up your iodine intake is to boost your thyroid gland's ability to produce thyroid hormone. Severe iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones. It is marked by weight gain, fatigue, constipation, dry skin, and hair loss. Iodine deficiency is very, very rare in the U.S. since table salt became iodized.

So how much iodine do you need? The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult men and women get 150 micrograms of iodine per day. The requirement is higher for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Maggie describes what it's like to have hypothyroidism, how it's affected her athleticism, and how she handles living with the condition.

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

It's not easy to tell how much iodine is found in food; it's not listed on food packaging in the U.S. To make sure you reach your iodine goals talk to your doctor about adding iodine to your diet in the following ways:

1. Sprinkle Some Salt

A ¼ teaspoon of iodized table salt provides about 95 micrograms of iodine. Yes, too much salt can raise blood pressure in certain individuals, but the main source of salt in our diets is not the kind that comes from the shaker—it's the kind found in processed foods. (Processed foods almost never contain iodized salt.) The American Heart Association suggests we consume no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. A ¼ teaspoon salt has 575 milligrams sodium, so you can safely sprinkle some salt on your favorite side dish. Be sure to read the salt label before purchase since many "sea salt" products contain no iodine.

2. Go Fish

A 3-ounce serving of shrimp contains about 30 micrograms of iodine, a 3-ounce portion of baked cod packs a whopping 99 micrograms of iodine, and 3 ounces of canned tuna in oil has 17 micrograms. All three can dress up your lunch salad, while upping your iodine. Sea bass, haddock, and perch are also rich in iodine.

3. Snack on Seaweed

Seaweed snacks are all the rage today, and they can be rich in iodine—a one gram portion can have anywhere from 16 to 2,984 micrograms. There are many varieties of seafood such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame. Iodine content differs among the species. Other ways to get more iodine include ordering a tuna hand roll (raw tuna wrapped in a sheet of seaweed) or another favorite seaweed-wrapped roll. This can pack a potent iodine punch as the fish has iodine too.

4. Scramble Up Some Eggs

A large egg has 24 micrograms of iodine. Many of us tend to order egg whites to cut back on cholesterol, but it's the yellow yolk that has the iodine. Two scrambled eggs provides one-third of your daily needs. Sprinkle some table salt on your scramble and you have basically hit your iodine number by the end of breakfast.

5. Milk It

Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are also rich in iodine. One cup of low-fat plain yogurt has 75 micrograms (that's half of your daily allotment right there) and a cup of reduced fat milk has 56 micrograms. One ounce of cheddar cheese has 12 micrograms of iodine. Tip: If you are looking for iodine, don't choose organic dairy foods. Organic milk has a lower concentration of iodine because of what the cows are fed, according to a study in  Food and Chemical Toxicology.

6. Color Your Plate with Fruits and Veggies

Fruits and vegetables contain iodine, but the amount varies based on the soil where they grow. A ½ cup of boiled lima beans has 8 micorgrams of iodine and five dried prunes have 13 micrograms. Little by little, this can add up, especially if you stick to the American Heart Association recommendations of eating eight or more fruit and vegetable servings every day.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd, III, MD FACS Last Review Date: May 26, 2015

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. National Institutes of Health. Iodine. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/
  2. University of Maryland. Hypothyroidism. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/hypothyroidism
  3. American Heart Association. Shaking the Salt Habit. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Sh...
  4. American Heart Association. Fruits and Vegetables. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fruits-and-Vegetables_...
  5. F. Rey-Crespo, M, et al. Essential trace and toxic element concentrations in organic and conventional milk in NW Spain. (2013). Food and Chemical Toxicology. 55: 513–518. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23391598
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Iodine in Diet. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002421.htm
  7. American Thyroid Association. Iodine Deficiency. http://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/

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