Am I Getting Enough Iodine If I Use Sea Salt?

Ask Ashley Koff, RD, Calmful Living Nutrition Editor


I have a number of fancy sea salts I use when cooking and seasoning food. Will I get enough iodine in my diet if I am not using an iodized salt?


Hey, Fancy Salts, and thanks for your question!

First, kudos to you for cooking and for knowing we need iodine and may not be getting it any longer from our salt choices, especially the fancy ones. Before we get all salty, let me discuss the key points about iodine that will help you determine your iodine needs and your salt picks.

Iodine supports a healthy thyroid, which impacts metabolism, energy and hair, skin and nail health; iodine is also a critical prenatal nutrient, impacting brain development and helping to promote healthy circulation for Mom and baby during gestation.

Good sources of iodine include seaweed, iodized salt, cow’s milk, potato with the skin, as well as seafood (cod, shrimp, salmon), navy beans, and turkey breast.

Factors that can cause insufficient iodine:

    • Not eating enough iodine.

    • Perspiration, as we lose iodine through our sweat from exercise or being overheated or using a sauna.

Compounds that interfere with iodine:

    • Perchlorate blocks the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. This can create or be a factor in hypothyroidism. Perchlorate is found primarily in water but can transfer into breast milk.

    • Fluoride interferes with iodine metabolism and is found in water and toothpastes.

    • Bromine/bromide found in baked goods and beverages like sports drinks and sodas (look for brominated vegetable oil or potassium bromate). This compound should be avoided in your food and beverage choices.

You can and should test for iodine as well as for the compounds that support and interfere with its absorption and metabolism.

    • Your healthcare provider can do a fasting urine test for iodine, but a 24-hour urine test is more accurate.

    • You can review your local water tests each year and test your water, and you can also be tested for environmental compounds too.

    • Before you supplement your iodine you should be tested, as high iodine intake can also trigger hypothyroidism. A low to moderate daily dose is 1,000 mcg iodine.

    • Assess selenium levels as well as iodine, as both support a healthy thyroid. This will guide you in food and supplement needs of both minerals. Tyrosine, an amino acid, is also important for iodine absorption and metabolism.

    • Overconsuming iodized salt is not a recommended way to increase iodine intake, as you still have the issue of too much salt being a negative.

SO, are you good with your fancy sea salts?

Are you a vegetarian or vegan? If so, you will need to ensure you get sufficient iodine from sea vegetables like organic seaweed if you are not getting it from your salt.

Are you pregnant or considering pregnancy? You should have a baseline iodine test and your prenatal should include iodine. You can get great health benefits from the other sources of iodine, but follow guidelines to ensure your seafood is a quality source so you avoid excess mercury.

Do you sweat daily (a good thing!) from fitness, work, or because you are following a detox program that includes routine saunas? You will want to include food sources of iodine, especially on days when you sweat a lot. You may consider a multi that includes a low to moderate dose of iodine to support optimal levels.

Seasonings should be primarily from spices not salt, so make sure you explore the wonderful world of quality herbs and spices to season your food during cooking.

Thanks for asking this important question!

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating. Visit her site at: www.ashleykoffapproved.com