Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Foods High in Iodine to Eat if You’re Cutting Down On Salt

Here Are High-iodine Foods That Can Help Counter Hypothyroidism

When it comes to micronutrients, certain vitamins and minerals tend to dominate the conversation. We often hear about the importance of vitamin C, vitamin D, and B vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, and potassium, but there are many other minerals vital to our health as well, one of which is iodine.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of iodine and the foods high in iodine that you might want to incorporate into your diet (after discussing them with your doctor first, of course) to help support your thyroid health.

Related Videos
Bowl of foods high in iodine like seaweed and fish

What Is Iodine?

Iodine is a trace mineral that’s an essential micronutrient, which means it must be consumed in the diet because the body cannot manufacture it. Iodine is critical for the health, proper functioning, and hormone production of your thyroid, one of the key endocrine glands that largely governs your metabolism.

For example, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, iodine is an essential component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which, in turn, regulate vital biochemical reactions such as protein synthesis, enzymatic function, and metabolic activity. Iodine also is required for the production and function of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which is necessary for protecting the body from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.

For this reason, iodine deficiencies can lead to hypothyroidism, a condition marked by an underactive thyroid gland, which can manifest as an enlarged thyroid, known as a goiter.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, people with hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid, often need to limit their iodine intake. If that’s true for you, then consider this a list of foods you might want to limit or eliminate entirely from your diet — though again, be sure to talk to your doctor before making any big dietary changes.

Fresh vegetables and meat

How Much Iodine Do You Need?

According to the Harvard University School of Public Health, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), or daily minimum, for iodine is 150 micrograms (mcg) for adult men and women 19 years and older, and 220 and 290 mcg daily for pregnant and lactating women, respectively. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 1,100 mcg.

Foods High in Iodine

Bowl with seaweed for eating


Seaweed is far and away the best natural food source of iodine. For example, just 10 grams of nori, the type of seaweed used to wrap a sushi roll, provides about 232 mcg of iodine, which is more than 150% of the required daily minimum. Other edible seaweeds high in iodine include kelp, kombu, and wakame.

Plate of cod and green beansCod

In general, the richest dietary sources of iodine are fish, seafood, and sea vegetables. Cod is one of the foods highest in iodine, and it contains more iodine than any other fish.

Not only is cod an excellent source of lean protein, but a three-ounce serving of baked cod also provides 158 mcg of iodine, which satisfies your recommended daily minimum.

Toast in a bread rack

Enriched Bread

While regular bread isn’t naturally high in iodine, certain manufacturers enrich their bread in an effort to prevent iodine deficiency. Much in the way that iodized table salt is enriched with iodine, these enriched breads use what is called “iodate dough conditioner.”

Two slices of white bread enriched by using an iodate dough conditioner contain about 320 mcg of iodine (213% of the daily minimum), while two slices of wheat bread provide about 309 mcg.

Cooked oysters


Oysters may be best known in pop culture as aphrodisiacs, but these marine bivalves are also packed with nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins, and iodine. A three-ounce serving of cooked oysters provides 93 mcg of iodine, nearly two-thirds of your recommended daily amount. Shrimp are also high in iodine.

Cup of yogurt with berries
Terri Cnudde / Pixabay

Yogurt and Other Dairy Products

Though most of the foods highest in iodine originate in the sea, dairy products also contain decent amounts of iodine. Note that most plant-based alternative milks are not high in iodine.

Greek yogurt is the best dairy source of iodine due to its density, which increases the iodine concentration per ounce over milk and single-strained yogurts.

An eight-ounce serving of nonfat Greek yogurt has about 116 mcg of iodine, which is about 75% of your daily minimum.

An eight-ounce serving of skim milk (cow’s milk) provides over 50% of the daily minimum, with 85 mcg of iodine.

Fried eggs


If you’re not much of a seafood lover, you can get a decent amount of iodine in regular chicken eggs. Whether you like them scrambled, hard-boiled, poached, over-easy, or fried, a single whole, large egg contains about 26 mcg of iodine. Note that the iodine is almost entirely concentrated in the yolk, so if you’re looking to meet your iodine needs, skip the egg white omelet and go for the whole egg. You’ll also get tons of folate, vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin B12, among other essential nutrients.

Salt shaker will salt pouring out

Iodized Salt

In the early 1920s, manufacturers of table salt started adding iodine to enrich the salt and help reduce the prevalence of iodine deficiencies.

Currently, you can purchase either iodized or uniodized salt in the United States. Iodized salt has about 71 mcg of iodine in a 1/4 teaspoon of salt, which is nearly 50% of your daily minimum.

However, as the public health push to reduce sodium intake has increased over the past decade or so, the average iodine intake of most adults has dropped due to attempts to consume less salt. Iodized salt is typically the primary dietary source of iodine, meaning that as health-conscious people have reduced their overall salt intake, they’ve also inadvertently reduced their iodine intake as well. If you’re one of those folks, you might want to consider adding some of these other foods into your regular diet to make up the difference.

Editors' Recommendations

The 8 best protein shakes that are ready-to-go
These shakes come with all the good stuff, and none of the crap

With as busy as we have become as a society, we always seem to be on the go. This can make life challenging, especially when it comes to wellness goals. In a perfect world, you could hit the gym hard, crush a workout, then immediately refuel with a balanced, home-cooked meal. But, since life happens and we are always on the go, it’s not always feasible to take the time to actually cook up a muscle-building meal right after your workout. Whether you’re on the go and short on time, or just can't stomach a full meal after exercising, having a quick and easy, protein-packed option that doesn’t require kitchen time, is a helpful alternative to refuel your body and maximize your results.

This is where protein shakes come in handy. Numerous ready-to-drink shakes are available that provide muscle-building protein, vitamins, minerals, and calories to fortify your body after a workout. They offer the benefits of protein powders with the convenience of eliminating the need for a shaker bottle, or high-speed blender, let alone making a mess with powders. Simply give the bottle a quick shake, pop the top, and you’re good to go.

Read more
Everything you need to know about the bone broth diet
The bone broth diet: Your complete guide
Bowl of bone broth.

Focus on cleaner eating and healthier lifestyles is growing alongside the development of new and different trendy diets. Each of these diets claims to have life-changing benefits, from weight loss to detoxing and everything in between.

If you are familiar with the Paleo lifestyle, then you'll also be familiar with bone broth and intermittent fasting. Recently, a diet has emerged that blends these two popular elements into a plan that claims to take weight loss to a new level.

Read more
Want to build muscle? A doctor says you should eat these foods
If you're looking to bulk up those biceps, these are the foods you should be eating
Fish fillets, chicken meat, and red meat on top of distressed white cutting boards along with nuts, cheese, dairy, and eggs.

The world of nutrition and muscle growth can be a terribly confusing one. Between the madness of the latest trends in health, fad diets, the newest "must have" workout gear, and toxic weight-loss culture, it's easy to want to throw in the towel and reach for a box of Twinkies. But tucked in, hidden in all of this confusion, there are some things about fitness and muscle growth that are just always true. The biggest truth of them all is that abs really are made in the kitchen. You can work yourself into a frenzy with a fancy gym membership, but without proper nutrition, your body is just running on toxic fumes.

Muscle building requires a good balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Dr. Noel Abood, owner and director of Solon Spine & Wellness Center in Ohio, shared with us his expert advice on the top foods one should be eating for ultimate muscle growth. So if you've been frustrated with the results of your workout routine, or are looking to bulge those biceps a bit more, here are some of the foods you'll want to add these items to your grocery list.

Read more