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Food Sources of Iodine

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We all need iodine to keep our thyroid (the body's central chemistry controller) healthy. So where does iodine come from and what foods are best for getting enough iodine? Learn more here.


Food Sources of Iodine

by Monica Wilde
January 2015 

We all need iodine to keep our thyroid (the body's central chemistry controller) healthy. So where does iodine come from and what foods are best for getting enough iodine?

The minimum recommended amount of iodine that you need on a daily basis is 140/150 mcg (UK/WHO). In pregnancy this requirement goes up to 220/250 and when breast-feeding it is 250/290 mcg of iodine a day. This is the minimum daily intake that our thyroid needs to function properly and make sure that our bodies run at the right speed.

For pregnant women this is especially important as without sufficient iodine, the baby's brain development can be affected. Often the body seems to prioritise iodine to the baby as many mums are diagnosed with underactive thyroid soon after the birth.

We've looked at iodine values in food and in the last column worked out exactly how much you'd need to eat of any one food to get enough iodine for the day. Obviously this is not the way anyone would approach a balanced healthy diet, after all no one could eat 250 apples in one day!

However, it does clearly indicate the need to include ocean sourced or fortified foods on a daily basis unless you take a seaweed supplement. You'll also notice some wide variations in the same food so ensure you eat plenty of iodine rich ocean fish and seaweed.


Iodine in Food 

Food  mcg/100 g  mcg/serving Serving size To reach 150 mcg min. a day
Napiers Hebridean Kelp 700 350 1 capsules - 500g 1 Capsule
Oysters (a) 160 144 6 oysters - 90g 7 Oysters
Sushi (with seaweed) (a) 92 92 1 sushi roll - 100g 2 Sushi rolls
Cod, cooked (b)   87 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2 Portions of cod
Haddock, cooked (b)   87 75 g (2 ½ oz) 2 Portions of haddock
Cottage cheese, non-org (b)   65 250 mL (1 cup) 2 Cups of cottage cheese
Canned salmon (a) 60 63 1 small tin - 105g 3 Small tins of salmon
Soynuts (b)   60 60 mL (1/4 cup) 3/4 Cup of soynuts
Yogurt, plain (b)   58 175 g (3/4 cup) 3 Pots of non-organic yoghurt
Milk, non-organic (a) (b) 23 52-62 1 large glass - 250ml 3 Large cups of milks
Steamed snapper (a) 40 50 1 fillet - 125g 3 Fillets of fish
Eggs (b)   48-52 2 large 6 Large eggs
Beans (navy, black-eyed) (b)   46-53 175 mL (3/4 cup) 3 Cups of beans
Yoghurt, fruit (non-org) (a) (b) 16 (a) 32-35 1 tub 175g / 200g 3-5 Non-organic fruit yoghurts
Liver (beef) (b)   32 75 g (2 ½ oz) 5 Servings
Turkey, light (b)   30 75 g (2 ½ oz) 5 Servings
Eggs (a) 22 19 2 eggs - 88g 16 Eggs
Beans (pinto, kidney )(b)   19-28 175 mL (3/4 cup) 4-6 Cups of beans
Bread, fortified non-org (a) (b) 46 (a) 17-32 1 slice 30g (a) 35g (b) 4-11 Slices non-organic bread
Beef, various cuts (b)   11-14 75 g (2 ½ oz) 12 Servings
Chicken, light or dark  (b)   11-12 75 g (2 ½ oz) 12 Servings
Tuna, canned (a) (b) 10 10-15 Can 75g (b) 95g (a) 10-15 Tins of tuna
Ice cream (non-organic) (a) 21 10 2 scoops - 48g 30 Scoops
Lima beans (b)   8 125 mL (1/2 cup) 9 Cups of beans
Shredded wheat, fortified (b)   8 30 g 9 Shredded wheats (fortified)
Lamb chop (b)   8 75 g (2 ½ oz) 19 Servings
Pork, various cuts  (b)   5-9 75 g (2 ½ oz) 30 Servings
Cheddar cheese (a) 23 4 2.5 cm cube - 16g 38 Cubes of non-organic cheese
Rice, white (b)   4 125 mL (1/2 cup) 37 Cups of rice
Green peas (b)   3-4 125 mL (1/2 cup) 25-37 Cups of peas
Bread (organic) (a) 3 2 2 slices - 60g 75 Slices of organic bread
Beef, pork, lamb (a) <1.5 <1.5 2 loin lamb chops 200 Lamb chops
Apple, oranges, fruit (a) <0.5 <0.6 1 apple 250




One question people always ask after looking at this list is why organic milk and dairy products are lower in iodine? Organic dairy products are lower in iodine because organic farmers do not use iodine disinfectants that get into the milk when milking the cows. The upside of organic milk is the lack of pesticides known to be present in non-organic milk. So if you buy organic do make sure that you consume plenty of fish and seaweed.


(a) Food Standards Australia New Zealand Sept 2012

(b) Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes. Washington: The National Academies Press;2006 and Pennington, J. and Douglass, J. Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions Commonly Used, 18 E. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2005.

(c) Combet E, Ma ZF, Cousins F, Thompson B, Lean ME. (2014). Low-level seaweed supplementation improves iodine status in iodine-insufficient women. Br J Nutr. 1-9. PubMed PMID: 25006699.

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