Iodine: foods, benefits & RDA

Siski Green / 14 April 2021

Iodine, found in seafood and seaweed, is important for producing hormones and producing energy from fat



Iodine is a mineral that’s found in soil, sea water as well as plants and animal products.

What is iodine used for?

Iodine is needed by the thyroid gland to produce the hormones used all over the body. These hormones help produce energy from fat, control cholesterol levels and keep weight stable, as well as nerves and bone health, and keeping skin, hair, nails and teeth in good condition.

What’s the best way to take iodine?

As your body doesn’t make iodine you need to get it through your diet. You can get iodine by eating fish, eggs, nuts, meat, bread, dairy products, seaweed and iodized table salt.

You can also take a supplement – look for one containing potassium as this helps your body absorb the iodine.

Is iodine essential?

Yes, it is. If you have an iodine deficiency it can impact your thyroid gland. It swells up trying to extract more iodine from the blood (known as goitre) and you may suffer side effects such as constipation, fatigue, thinning hair, weakness, mental slowing, obesity.

Adults need 150mcg per day. And while iodine deficiency isn’t common in the western world, it can occur if you lack an adequate diet. Vegans and vegetarians are slightly more at risk.

Want to talk to a GP today? With Saga Health Insurance, you have unlimited access to a qualified GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more about our GP phone service.


Where can I get iodine?

If you can’t get enough iodine via diet, you can take a multivitamin tablet which usually contains iodine too. Multivitamins are available at healthfood shops, supermarkets and online.

What are the side effects of taking iodine?

If you ingest too much iodine (more than the recommended 150mcg is not advisable), it can cause damage to your thyroid.

Are there any contraindications when taking iodine?

If you are getting your iodine via your diet there shouldn’t any problems. If, however, you have thyroid problems, check with your GP before taking any supplements.

Browse our selection of fish and seafood recipes for meal ideas

Try 12 issues of Saga Magazine for just £15

Subscribe today for just £29 for 12 issues...

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.