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Iodine Diet

Iodine diet is a diet that focuses on sufficient iodine intake as it is an essential trace mineral, the absence of which in our diets could result in serious deficiency syndromes. The function of iodine in our body cannot be disregarded as it plays a critical role in the normal metabolism of each and every cell in the body. The thyroid glands in the human body release thyroid hormones which regulate this metabolism and produce energy from the food consumed. Both for normal thyroid function as well as in the production of thyroid hormones Iodine is necessary.

Iodine Deficiency

In regions with poor iodine content in the soil, the likelihood of iodine deficiency syndromes is greater. This is not an over night phenomenon, several months of prolonged iodine deficiency in an individual's diet could exhibit the symptoms of iodine deficiency in the form of hypothyroidism or goiter. Insufficient iodine causes thyroid cells and in turn the thyroid gland to become enlarged.

  1. Deficiency symptoms have been observed more often in women than in men
  2. More commonly detected in pregnant women and older children.
  3. Prolonged exposure to low iodine levels results in a form of physical and mental retardation termed as ‘cretinism’.

The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends the following dietary intake of iodine:


  • 0 - 6 months: 110 micrograms per day (mcg/day)
  • 7 - 12 months: 130 mcg/day


  • 1 - 3 years: 90 mcg/day
  • 4 - 8 years: 90 mcg/day
  • 9 - 13 years: 120 mcg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • Males of age 14 years and above: 150 mcg/day
  • Females of age 14 years and above : 150 mcg/day

Specific recommendations however depend on other factors too-

  • age,
  • gender,
  • Present health status, for instance, if a woman is pregnant or lactating, the requirement is higher, 220 mcg/ day for the former and 290 mcg/day for the latter.

Dietary Recommendations

The best possible means of securing sufficient intake of iodine is through a well-balanced diet including a wide variety of foods including all other necessary vitamins and minerals as well. Some of the iodine rich foods that need to be included as part of the Iodine Diet are-

  • Table salt fortified with iodine i.e. iodized salt must be used in preparation of all dishes. Merely adding a ¼ teaspoon of iodized salt delivers about 95 micrograms of iodine.
  • Seafood such as cod, haddock sea bass and other fish are considered naturally good sources of iodine. About 6 ounces of ocean fish can supply as much as 650 micrograms of iodine.
  • Dairy products and eggs may provide some iodine.
  • Kelp is a kind of seaweed that has good iodine content.
  • Cereal grains enriched with iodine may be used.
  • These apart, plants cultivated in iodine rich soil also could provide some iodine in the diet.

Iodine Diet Meal Plan

An 1,800-calorie USDA approved meal plan that concentrates on iodine-rich foods may include the following:

  • 1.5 cups of fresh fruit,
  • 2.5 cups of fibre-rich and other vegetables,
  • 6 ounces of iodine enriched grains,
  • 5 ounces of iodine-rich protein foods such as eggs, fish or other seafood,
  • 3 cups of milk, yoghurt and other dairy products,
  • 24 g of oils with higher unsaturated fat content
  • Approximately 161 extra calories coming from other source like fats and additional sugars.
  • Incorporation of seaweed like kelp or iodized salt into this meal plan could further augment the daily iodine intake.