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How to Get More Iodine in the Diet

By Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.

Though iodine supplements – and multivitamin supplements containing iodine – are available, you can actually meet your daily iodine needs by eating a well-balanced diet that includes iodine-rich foods. Because your body uses dietary iodine to make thyroid hormone, iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism -- which slows down your metabolism -- and cause mental retardation in babies born to iodine-deficient mothers, according to the American Thyroid Association. Fortunately, a variety of healthy foods are good sources of iodine.

Iodine Requirements

Including iodine-rich foods in your diet every day will help you meet the recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for iodine. But talk with your doctor if you’re pregnant, nursing or have hypothyroidism to see if iodine supplements are appropriate for you. According to the Institute of Medicine, the iodine RDA is 150 micrograms daily for adult men and women, 220 micrograms per day during pregnancy and 290 micrograms of iodine daily for women who are breastfeeding.

Dairy Foods

Dairy foods -- including milk, yogurt, cheese and ice cream -- are excellent sources of dietary iodine. Even soy milk is a good source of iodine, according to the American Thyroid Association. The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that 1 cup of yogurt provides 75 micrograms of iodine, 1 cup of milk contains 56 micrograms, 1/2 cup of chocolate ice cream provides 30 micrograms and 1 ounce of cheddar cheese contains about 12 micrograms of dietary iodine. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggests consuming three 1-cup equivalents of dairy foods daily when eating 2,000 calories a day.

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Seafood and Seaweed

Eating seafood – especially fish – or seaweed is a good way to boost your dietary iodine intake. Three ounces of cod, fish sticks and shrimp provide 99, 54 and 35 micrograms of iodine, respectively, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. The amount of iodine in one whole sheet of seaweed is highly variable and is anywhere between 16 and 2,984 micrograms of iodine. If you’re pregnant or nursing, limit fish consumption to 12 ounces of low-mercury fish – such as shrimp, catfish or salmon -- weekly, suggests the American Pregnancy Association.

Iodized Salt

Using iodized salt – in moderation – instead of regular salt on foods is an excellent way to boost your daily iodine intake. It’s important to note, however, that not all salt is iodized. The Office of Dietary Supplements reports that 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt contains about 71 micrograms of iodine, which is almost half of the adult RDA. But use table salt sparingly since it can drastically boost your sodium intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggests limiting sodium to 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams daily -- and 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt contains about 581 milligrams of sodium, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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