Iodine – An underrated trace element


An underrated trace element

When it comes to iodine, people are most likely to think of the thyroid and iodised table salt. But did you know that the female breast can store more iodine than the thyroid? Many organs in your body rely on the trace element.

Iodine is a vital trace element. The body needs only relatively small amounts of it, however it cannot create these amounts itself and instead they must be obtained from the diet. According to the German Nutrition Society, a healthy adult needs 200 microgrammes of iodine daily.

And this is not easy. Iodine is primarily found in the oceans, while the soil is comparatively low in iodine. Fruit, cereals and vegetables thus contain only small amounts of iodine. The proportion in animal-based foods such as eggs and milk is higher than before, due to iodine enrichment of animal feed. However, the absolute top sources are seaweed and saltwater fish. In this guide, you will learn which foods contain iodine and how you can identify and correct an iodine deficiency.

Foods that contain iodine
Iodine defiency
Daily iodine requirement
Effect of iodine
Taking iodine
Iodine - but naturally

bittere lebensmittelFoods that contain iodine

It is not only important for the body to take in sufficient amounts of iodine but also to supply the body with the auxiliary substances needed for the absorption and utilisation of iodine. It should also be borne in mind that certain substances can make it more difficult to absorb iodine, as explained in greater detail below.

Foods containing iodine - table
Iodine content in microgrammes/100 g
brown algae
300.000-1.100.000 Camembert 20
brown algae
170.000-260.000 Non-iodised
table salt
brown algae
10.400-35.000 Mushrooms 18
Nori red algae 4.000-6.000 Broccoli 15
table salt
2.000 Gouda
40% fat in dry mass
Haddock 272 Chicken egg 10
Cod 170 Whole milk 10
Lobster 100 Butter 4

Fellow combatants and rivals in the organism

What is more, there is occasionally a lack of important nutrients which are needed for the optimal absorption and utilisation of iodine. This is because the organism needs a number of auxiliary substances (cofactors) for the individual steps in iodine metabolism. In particular, these include selenium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins A, C and D.

Conversely there are some substances which – if large quantities are consumed and the diet is simultaneously low in iodine – impair iodine uptake in the body or the formation of thyroid hormones. Since in this way they can cause an enlargement of the thyroid, they are known as goitrogens or strumigenic substances (from goitre and struma (Latin) = goitre).

The best known goitrogens include thiocyanates which are found, for example, in various vegetables of the brassica family (cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi) but also in tobacco smoke. Soy and soy products contain goitre-promoting substances (isoflavones) which compete with the trace element if there is low iodine intake.

Other iodine rivals are bromine and fluorine. Both are chemically closely related to iodine and in the periodic table of the elements, they are together in the group of halogens. Fluoride, which is intended to protect the teeth from cavities, is found nowadays not only in almost every toothpaste but table salt is also enriched with it – in particular the combination of iodised salt with fluoride appears to be of little use, in view of the competition between the two elements.

Important source of iodine: iodised table salt

Iodised table salt has been approved in Germany since 1989 as a food and since then, it has significantly contributed to the supply of iodine. In contrast to Switzerland, Austria and the U.S., there is no statutory iodine prophylaxis in Germany (and thus also no “governmentally imposed mandatory iodation”, as many iodine critics maintain).

Iodised salt helps meet the need for iodine. Conversely, non-iodised sea salt is not a good source of iodine. The use in households, gastronomy and the food industry is by no means widespread. Around 80 percent of households but only about 30 percent of food manufacturers use iodised salt.

Incidentally, popular sea salt is not an alternative: sea salt is obtained by evaporating sea water and in the process, the iodine it contains is largely lost. If sea salt is not additionally iodised, it is nearly as low in iodine as non-iodised rock salt.

Tip: Iodised salt does not tolerate heat. During longer periods of boiling, for example, in noodle or potato water, a large portion of the iodine boils away. Thus it is best to salt your food only after it has been cooked.

Iodine from seaweed

By far, the most iodine-rich food is seaweed. It can accumulate the iodine compounds dissolved in sea water at high concentrations in its cells. Its natural iodine content exceeds not only that of all types of fruit and vegetables, but also that of saltwater fish and seafood.

An interesting alternative on your plate, however seaweed is available in this country almost exclusively in dried form. When buying seaweed, consumers should pay attention to its iodine content. With seaweed as a vegetable or salad, you can bring some interesting variety to your table. Be aware that the nutrient content and the iodine content in particular of individual types of seaweed can vary significantly. Some types contain up to 11,000 milligrammes iodine per kilogramme dry weight – however a large portion of the iodine can be lost, depending on the preparation method. To be able to estimate your iodine consumption, you should buy only seaweed products which contain clear information on the iodine content and maximum intake.

Jodmangel Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency is a global problem affecting approximately two billion people worldwide. Germany is now no longer among the areas identified as being iodine-deficient – the use of iodised table salt in households and industry and also the enrichment of animal feed have led to significantly higher intake in recent years – yet this doesn’t mean that the problem has been solved. A good third of Germans still do not get adequate amounts of the important trace element. The situation appears to even be worsening again and there is reason for concern, especially in the case of school-aged children: according to more recent studies, half of six- to twelve-year-olds do not get the recommended amount of iodine.

Symptoms of iodine deficiency

If the body is deficient in iodine over the long term, widely varying symptoms can develop. This is because iodine supports various processes and functions in the body. These include:
• normal production of thyroid hormones and healthy thyroid function
• normal energy metabolism
• healthy function of the nervous system
• normal cognitive function
• maintenance of healthy skin

Iodine saturation test

Those who would like to know the status of their own iodine intake can have it determined using blood and urine tests. However, the result is only indicative of the iodine supply of the thyroid.

A relatively new method to be able to better estimate the body’s own total requirement is the iodine saturation test developed by two American doctors. In this test, 50 milligrammes of iodine are first administered orally – the amount which is estimated to be normally stored in the body. If the organism has an optimal supply, it excretes at least 90 percent of this amount of iodine via the urine. Conversely, if it retains more than 10 percent, this is considered to be an indication of an iodine deficiency.

Jod Tagesbedarf – Wie viel Jod benötige ich täglich? Daily iodine requirement –
How much iodine do I need daily?

“Recommended intake” covers only the needs of the thyroid

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends that adults consume 200 microgrammes of iodine daily and that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume 230 and 260 microgrammes, respectively.

To reach these quantities, according to the DGE, milk and dairy products should be consumed daily and saltwater fish once to twice per week (an important source also for omega-3 fatty acids) and iodised salt should be used consistently when preparing food.

Germans in fact consume an average of barely 125 microgrammes of iodine per day. Experts now also estimate the actual need for iodine to be far higher.

This is because the quantities recommended are sufficient only for the thyroid and many other organs also rely on this trace element.

Even the amount of iodine recommended by the DGE is hard for healthy adults to meet. It is even more difficult for persons with an increased need. Apart from pregnant and breastfeeding women, groups of people at risk of iodine deficiency also include children and adolescents, as well as vegetarians and vegans.

das hilft beim verdauen Effect of iodine

The vital trace element iodine fulfils numerous tasks in our body. Among other things, it supports:

• normal production of thyroid hormones and healthy thyroid function
• normal energy metabolism
• healthy function of the nervous system

• normal cognitive function
• maintenance of healthy skin

Taking iodine Taking iodine

The daily iodine requirement can generally not be met by diet alone. For this reason, the additional intake of iodine in the form of nutritional supplements is very helpful and recommended.

What should you be aware of when buying an iodine preparation?

Since seaweed may absorb not only iodine but also heavy metals and radioactive substances from ocean water, you should pay attention to the origin. Atlantic seaweed from European cultivation or – even better – from sustainable wild collection is, as a rule, monitored very carefully for possible contaminants.

Particularly in the case of an increased need for iodine or an identified iodine deficiency which cannot be met by a diet focusing on iodine intake, high-quality nutritional supplements from seaweed with a precisely defined dose of iodine are a good choice.

das hilft beim verdauenIodine – but naturally

Pro Iodine
Pro Iodine provides valuable natural iodine from North Atlantic knotted wrack – combined with high-quality astaxanthin obtained from the freshwater microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis (blood rain algae).

Best quality and safe raw material origins
All algae raw materials in Pro Iodine undergo strict quality and pollutant testing. The seaweed Seagreens® Ascophyllum nodosum (knotted wrack) comes from ecologically sustainable wild collection (certified according to the Nutritious Food Seaweed Standard).

ohne Zusatzstoffe Glutenfrei Laktosefrei Fruktosefrei Frei von Schadstoffen Natürliche Inhaltsstoffe Hefefrei Hypoallergen Vegetarisch

Knotted wrack and blood rain algae

Larger amounts of iodine are present in nature almost exclusively in the ocean. Seaweed can store the iodine compounds dissolved in the water in high concentrations in its cells.

The iodine in Pro Iodine comes from the knotted wrack Ascophyllum nodosum, a species of brown algae prevalent mainly in the North Atlantic. Our raw material Seagreens® Ascophyllum nodosum is harvested in controlled and ecologically sustainable wild collection and is certified according to the Nutritious Food Seaweed Standard.

Haematococcus pluvialis is the most important natural source of astaxanthin. With the aid of this carotenoid, the freshwater microalgae can survive even under difficult environmental conditions. If there is a lack of nutrients or strong sun exposure, they switch into a resting stage and produce large amounts of astaxanthin to protect themselves against UV light and oxidation.

Free astaxanthin is sensitive to oxidation and for this reason, we protect the raw ingredient in Pro Iodine through particularly stable microencapsulation


Tisso Blatt Trennlinie Mitochondrien Sekundäre Pflanzenstoffe



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