All About Minerals

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Why iodine is good for you

Iodine is required to make the thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism. While iodine's only function is to make thyroid hormones, it still has a very important role in the body. The thyroid hormones play a big role in growth, cell reproduction, nerve functions and how cells use oxygen. One of the thyroid hormones - thyroxin - regulates how fast energy is used from food. If there is not enough dietary iodine, the thyroid swells up in an effort to make more hormones, a condition that is called hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). The swelling is called goitre.


Important iodine facts


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Groups at risk of iodine deficiency

People in these groups at risk of deficiency should talk to a medical professional about iodine supplements BEFORE taking them.


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Symptoms of iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency occurs when less than 50mcg of iodine is taken in each day.

Iodine deficiency is normally rare in western countries, but with the high usage of sea salt (which contains little iodine), it is becoming far too common today. Symptoms of iodine deficiency are usually goitre and hypothyroidism.


Iodine and health

People who wish to take an iodine supplement should talk to a medical professional BEFORE taking it.


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Iodine in food

FOOD AMOUNT iodine (mcg)
Seaweed, dried 30g 100- 18,000
Cod 85g 99
Salt (iodized) 1 gram 77
Potato with peel, baked 1 medium 63
Milk (cow's) 1 cup 56
Fish sticks 2 fish sticks 35
Navy beans, cooked ½ cup 35
Prawns (shrimp) 85g 35
Turkey breast, baked 85g 34
Egg, boiled 1 large 29
Tuna, canned in oil 85g 17


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Iodine recommended daily intake (RDI)

RDA lifestage age amount
  INFANTS 0-6mths
110mcg (0.11mg)
130mcg (0.13mg)
  CHILDREN 1-8yrs 90mcg (0.09mg)
  CHILDREN 9-13yrs
120mcg (0.12mg)
150mcg (0.15mg)
  ADULTS 19-50yrs 150mcg (0.15mg)
  SENIORS 51+yrs
150mcg (0.15mg)
  PREGNANT all ages 220mcg (0.22mg)
  LACTATING all ages 290mcg (0.29mg)
  INFANTS 0-12mths n/a*
  CHILDREN 1-3yrs
200mcg (0.2mg)
300mcg (0.3mg)
  CHILDREN 9-13yrs
600mcg (0.6mg)
900mcg (0.9mg)
  ADULTS 19-50yrs 1100mcg (1.1mg)
  SENIORS 51+yrs
1100mcg (1.1mg)
  PREGNANT <18yrs
900mcg (0.9mg)
1100mcg (1.1mg)
  LACTATING <18yrs
900mcg (0.9mg)
1100mcg (1.1mg)
Toxic Levels >1,500mcg

The tolerable upper limits should only be taken for short periods and only under medical supervision.

* The tolerable upper limit for iodine for infants aged 0-12 months has not yet been determined due to a lack of data about the adverse effects in this age group. The only source of iodine intake should be from food (breast milk and/or baby formula).


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Iodine works best with




Overdosage, toxicity and cautions for iodine

Acute toxicity (>2000mcg) – swollen heart, stomach irritation, hypersensitivity, blood sickness

Chronic toxicity – brassy taste in the mouth, burning sensation of mouth and throat, decreased thyroid activity, diarrhoea, stomach irritation, goitre, Grave's disease, head cold symptoms, hyperthyroidism, increase salivation. Ironically, goitre can also develop if consistently large amounts of iodine are taken over a long period.


People taking lithium carbonate for manic depressive illness should NOT take iodine as it suppresses the thyroid gland and can produce abnormally low thyroid activity.

Be careful when taking extra iodine supplements as excessive amounts can cause hyperthyroidism, a condition where the thyroid overreacts and this can cause another set of problems.


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Last reviewed: 1 January 2010 || Last updated: 1 January 2010




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NOTE: Mega doses of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, or other supplements cannot cure illnesses and in fact can be very dangerous and produce toxic side effects and interfere with medicine you are taking. Always ensure you consult your doctor before taking any type of nutrient supplement.
Disclaimer: This guide is not intended to be used for diagnostic or prescriptive purposes. For any treatment or diagnosis of illness, please see your doctor.