Woman enjoying seaweed appetizer, a good source of iodine

Top Iodine Rich Foods & Supplements

Are you keeping an eye on your iodine intake? If not, you should—getting the right amount of this nutrient is key to healthy thyroid function (among other benefits).

Fortunately, there are many delicious ways to get iodine from food (especially if you love seafood), and you'll find quality iodine supplements, too. But there is too much of a good thing, so it's important not to overdo your intake, either.

Here's everything you need to know about getting the right amount of iodine in your diet.

What is iodine? Top benefits

Mother helping young daughter learn to cook with iodine rich foods

Iodine is an essential trace mineral, or micromineral, meaning we require smaller amounts of it compared with macrominerals, such as calcium. Even though we need less, some people may not be getting enough, and it is essential to our health!

Here's an overview of the different roles it plays in the body:

  1. Thyroid health

    : The primary role of iodine is to support the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
  1. Brain health

    : Iodine also plays an important role in fetal neurodevelopment and cognitive development in children. In fact, iodine needs during pregnancy and breastfeeding are higher than usual.
  1. Breast health

    : Iodine has been shown to support healthy breast tissue in women.

Iodine and thyroid health

Doctor checking on her patient's thyroid gland

Iodine is very important for thyroid health as it is needed to produce thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Iodine deficiency, excess iodine intake and normal aging are all associated with suboptimal thyroid function.

The American Thyroid Association recommends that women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding take a daily supplement to help meet the iodine needs of both the mother and baby.

Iodine Rich Foods List

The good news is that there is a variety of nutritious food sources of iodine, including seaweed and seafood (sushi, anyone?) as well as eggs, milk, beans, and other foods that are easy to find and inexpensive.

  • Sea Vegetables (Seaweed)

    • Kelp
    • Bladderwrack
    • Nori
    • Wakame
    • Kombu
    • Hijiki
  • Seafood: Fish and Shellfish

    • Cod
    • Sardines
    • Tuna
    • Shrimp
    • Scallops
    • Salmon
  • Dairy

    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cheese
  • Poultry Products

    • Eggs
    • Turkey
  • Beans (Legumes)

    • Navy beans
    • Lima beans
  • Fruit and Vegetables

    • Potatoes
    • Prunes
  • Iodized salt

Can I get enough iodine from foods only?

Older couples share a meal outside with iodine-rich foods

According to the National Institute of Health, most people in the U.S. get enough iodine from foods and beverages. If you're looking for an abundant source, seafood contains the highest amount of iodine by weight compared to other foods.

When it comes to fruits, vegetables and legumes as a source of iodine, the amount varies due to the quality of the soil, which depends on the region and growing practices. Other important minerals, such as the macromineral magnesium, are also affected by variations in soil quality.

Salt as a source of iodine

Sea salt and Himalayan salt do not have as much iodine as iodized salt, which is a major source of iodine. However, unfortified sea salt only contains a small amount of iodine.

For cooking, sea salt or Himalayan salt are a popular alternative to table salt (iodized salt) because of their flavor, texture, and small amount of mineral content aside from sodium. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these options do not have as much iodine as iodized salt—so if you prefer a “fancier” salt, you might need to supplement.

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Am I lacking iodine?

Pregnant woman researches about iodine on her laptop

Although iodine is found in foods, there are still some people who may not be getting enough. People who may be at risk of not getting enough iodine include:

  • Residents of developing countries
  • Vegetarians and vegans
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women

Wondering what your status is? You can take an iodine blood test or iodine urine test to test for deficiency.

However, these tests aren't considered good ways to assess whether your iodine supplementation is working, since iodine gets stored in thyroid and breast tissue.

Those who are deficient, at risk of deficiency, or whose diet may be lacking should focus on including more whole food sources of iodine and consider supplementing to ensure adequate intake.

Iodine supplements

If you and your doctor or nutritionist has determined an iodine supplement is right for you, here are some iodine-containing formulas to consider for you and your family!

  1. Multivitamins

    : Life Extension offers a variety of multivitamin formulas for adults and one for children. Two-Per-Day is a great way to help fill in the gaps from your diet because it offers essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The Children's Formula Life Extension Mix™ is a berry-flavored, kid-friendly chewable multivitamin designed for children between the ages of 4-8 years old. If you are pregnant, nursing, or in your childbearing years intending to conceive, you'll need a prenatal formula to meet the unique nutritional needs during this time. The Life Extension® Prenatal Advantage provides the recommended dosages of vitamins and minerals, plus other important nutrients for both mom and baby.
  2. Stand-alone iodine

    : If you are just looking for iodine by itself, a great choice is our Sea-Iodine™ formula, which includes iodine sourced from organic kelp and bladderwrack extracts and potassium iodide. If you're not already taking vitamins D and/or K, we also offer it in combination with those vitamins! Check out Vitamins D and K with Sea-Iodine™ and Vitamin D3 with Sea-Iodine™.
  3. Thyroid-focused formula

    : If you are looking for a comprehensive thyroid support formula that includes iodine and other nutrients that support healthy thyroid function, you'll love Triple Action Thyroid!
  4. Breast health focused formula

    : Because iodine supports normal breast tissue, we've included it along with other nutrients to help support healthy estrogen activity and detoxification to preserve women's breast health, in our Breast Health Formula.

About the Author: Holli Ryan is a food & nutrition expert, registered & licensed dietitian-nutritionist, health & wellness writer, blogger, and social media specialist. She graduated from Florida International University and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. In her free time she enjoys photography, travel, cooking, art, music, and nature.


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