Understanding the Dangers and Benefits of Iodine

by Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Professional

One of the first dietary steps you can take to lower blood pressure is to cut back on salt.

Salt contains sodium. By decreasing salt intake, you can decrease the level of sodium in your bloodstream, allowing your kidneys to more effectively eliminate water. That results in a lower blood pressure.

However, salt is one of our main dietary sources of iodine. These days, iodine deficiency is not a common problem, since iodine is added to table salt. But if you eliminate table salt from your diet you may need to shift your diet to include other sources of iodine.

What role does iodine play in your health?

Iodine’s main function is to support the development and function of the thyroid gland with hormone production.

Iodine also fights bacteria, promotes healthy breast tissue, supports hair and skin growth, protects against toxic effects of radioactive material, and is involved in energy production and nerve function.

What are deficiency symptoms?

Some deficiency symptoms include:

  • Depression

  • Dry eyes

  • Decreased mental capacity

  • Fatigue

  • Cold extremities

  • Goiter

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Insomnia

  • Weight gain

How much iodine do you need in your diet daily?

Recommended daily intake is 150 micrograms (mcg) for adults and 220 mcg for pregnant women.

What are some dietary sources of iodine?

One teaspoon of iodized salt contains approximately 400 mcg iodine. If you are working to reduce your salt intake, here are some additional dietary sources of iodine.

These sources are listed in descending order in regards to iodine content per 100 grams. For meat including beef, pork, poultry and seafood 100 grams is equal to about 3.5 ounces. For a visual, that’s about the size of a deck of cards.

  • Clams: 90 mcg

  • Shrimp: 65 mcg

  • Haddock: 62 mcg

  • Oysters: 50 mcg

  • Salmon: 50 mcg

  • Halibut: 46 mcg

  • Canned sardines: 37 mcg (100 grams = about 1 cup)

  • Beef liver: 19 mcg

  • Pineapple: 16 mcg (100 grams = about ½ cup)

  • Canned tuna: 16 mcg (100 grams = about ½ cup)

  • Eggs: 14 mcg (100 grams = two eggs)

  • Peanuts: 11 mcg (100 grams = about ¾ cup)

  • Whole wheat bread: 11 mcg (100 grams = about 2 slices)

  • Cheddar Cheese: 11 mcg (100 grams = about 3.5 ounces)

  • Pork: 10 mcg

  • Lettuce: 10 mcg (100 grams = about 1 ¼ cups)

Please note sea salt is not a rich source of iodine.

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN
Meet Our Writer
Lisa Nelson, RD, LN

Lisa Nelson RD, a registered dietitian since 1999, provides step-by-step guidance to lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure, so you can live life and enjoy your family for years to come. Lisa's passion for health comes from her own family history of heart disease, so she doesn't dispense trendy treatments; Lisa practices what she teaches in her own daily life. Because her own health is the foundation of her expertise, you can trust that Lisa will make it truly possible for you to see dramatic changes in your health, without unrealistic fads or impossibly difficult techniques.