Support Your Thyroid With These Iodine-Rich Foods

Iodine is a mineral that helps the body in many ways, including by making thyroid hormones that are necessary for proper brain, bone, and metabolism development. If the body doesn’t have enough iodine, it can cause a deficiency and the body won't be able to make enough of the thyroid hormone. This can lead to hypothyroidism.

Iodine-Rich Foods to Support Your Thyroid

Verywell / Danie Drankwalter

Iodine and Your Thyroid

Proper thyroid function is important for the metabolism of almost all of the tissues in the body. It is also a critical factor for the development of the central nervous system.

If the body has an adequate amount of iodine, this can prevent a lot of health issues including:

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Brain damage

Just as an individual may not get enough iodine, too much iodine can create a thyroid dysfunction in some individuals.

How Much Iodine Is Needed

Iodine is a mineral that is needed for overall health. Since the body doesn’t produce iodine on its own, there are ways to get iodine in the body through food and supplements. These items include:

  • Iodized salt
  • Seaweed
  • Salt-water fish
  • Dairy products
  • Supplements

The recommended daily amounts of iodine depend on your age. The average recommended amounts in micrograms (mcg) are the following:

  • Birth to 6 months: 110 mcg
  • Infants 7–12 months: 130 mcg
  • Children 1–8 years: 90 mcg
  • Children 9–13 years: 120 mcg
  • Teens 14–18 years: 150 mcg
  • Adults: 150 mcg
  • Pregnant teens and women: 220 mcg
  • Breastfeeding teens and women: 290 mcg

People Who Need More Iodine

Certain people need more iodine in the body. They include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Breastfeeding women
  • Infants
  • Children

This is due to the overall development of the body, including the brain and nervous system. Vegans and people who eat very little dairy, eggs, and seafood also tend to be in need of more iodine.

Foods High in Iodine


Seaweed is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is also known to be one of the best sources of iodine. There are many forms of seaweed. The most popular are:

  • Kelp
  • Nori
  • Wakame
  • Kombu

The levels of iodine depend on the type of seaweed and how it is prepared.


Fish is a good source of:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Phosphorus
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin D

Fish such as cod, halibut, and pollack are a great source of iodine. The levels depend on whether they are wild-caught or farm-raised and the location. On average, cod has 158 mcg per serving, halibut has 18 mcg per serving, and pollack has 1,210 mcg per serving.


Shellfish are a good source of:

  • Protein
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Healthy fats

They are also a great source of iodine due to the absorption of seawater. Shellfish include crab, scallops, shrimp, and squid, among others. The iodine level in 3 ounces of cooked shrimp is 13 mcg per serving.


Dairy products contain iodine, but the levels depend on whether the cows were given feed supplements with iodine.

Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all major sources of iodine:

  • One cup of non-fat milk has 85 mcg per serving.
  • One ounce of cheddar cheese has 14 mcg per serving.
  • One cup of non-fat plain yogurt
  • Eight ounces of Greek yogurt has 116 mcg per serving.


Eggs have a number of vitamins and nutrients such as:

  • Iron
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Protein

Eggs contain a large amount of iodine. One boiled egg contains 24 mcg of iodine

Iodized Salt

Iodized salt is an important component of a diet. There is caution with consuming salt at all as too much sodium in the diet can lead to health issues. It is important to understand that the majority of salt intake is from processed foods. These items don’t have iodized salt.

If the item uses iodized salt, it has to be listed on the food label. About 1/8 of a teaspoon of iodized salt contains 45 mcg of iodine.


Prunes have vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Potassium

By eating prunes, you can get around 9% of the daily recommended value of iodine.

Lima Beans 

Lima beans are a great source of:

  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Protein
  • Iodine

The levels and amounts of iodine in fruits and vegetables depend on the amount that is in the soil, the location of where the produce is grown, and irrigation practices. Along with other nutrients available in this food, lima beans contain around 10% of the daily value of iodine.

You Can Get Too Much

Just like an iodine deficiency, you can get too much iodine. Excessive iodine intake can cause thyroid papillary cancer and thyroiditis. There are also rare cases of acute iodine poisoning. The symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Weak pulse
  • Diarrhea
  • Burning of the mouth, throat, and stomach

A Word From Verywell

Iodine is necessary for proper body function and your overall health. You can get iodine through food and supplements. It is always important to speak with a healthcare professional if you have any questions about vitamins, minerals, and supplements. You can also discuss your specific iodine levels. If there is a deficiency, a healthcare professional can help you with a specific dietary plan that will help you get adequate levels of iodine.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institutes of Health. Iodine.

  2. American Thyroid Association. Iodine deficiency.

  3. Chung HR. Iodine and thyroid functionAnn Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2014;19(1):8-12. doi:10.6065/apem.2014.19.1.8

  4. National Institutes of Health. Iodine.

  5. Eat Right. Iodine, a critically important nutrient.

  6. Nerhus I, Wik Markhus M, Nilsen BM, et al. Iodine content of six fish species, Norwegian dairy products and hen's eggFood Nutr Res. 2018. doi:10.29219/fnr.v62.1291

By Yvelette Stines
Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.