The irony of iodine and are you getting enough?

The irony of iodine and are you getting enough?

We often get asked about the safety and supplemental value of iodine in our seaweed. This is because iodine is a complicated trace element that is ESSENTIAL for our health, but it is only required in TRACE amounts. You only need about a teaspoon of iodine for your whole life; but it is essential throughout life. Indeed the deficiency of iodine globally is the leading cause of brain damage according to the World Health Organisation. It is such a global deficiency problem that universal iodised salt was mandated in the 1990s, and in Australia it is a requirement of bread manufacturers to include iodised salt in breadmaking.


Despite these interventions, over 25% of the worlds population is still considered iodine deficient according to the latest research, and critically a lot of these 2 BILLION people are expecting or breast feeding mothers.

Deficiencies are not only in developing countries. Australia iodine deficiency is prevalent in about 50% of children and pregnant or breastfeeding women as our soils are not generally rich in iodine. Unless you are getting iodine from regular seafood consumption or iodised salt, then you may be at risk.

Pregnancy and child development at risk

Poor development of the central nervous system during pregnancy is what still leads to the biggest cause of preventable brain damage worldwide.

At about 12-16 weeks in pregnancy, the foetus is actually able to produce its own thyroid hormones, and therefore needs a supply of iodine from the mother to do so and to help in healthy neural development.

The chemistry of tobacco from smoking can inhibit this transport of iodine across the placenta, as well as through breastmilk, which is why it is so important to stop smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding; but I think this message has been heard loud and clear now. However, simply not getting enough iodine when pregnant can also lead to deficiencies for the foetus.

In Korea, it is actually customary to serve seaweed soup to new mothers, to make sure that the iodine intake is maintained. A Danish study showed that 47% of the iodine ingested by the mother crosses into breastmilk, so you, mum, are a critical source of iodine for baby.

Important for efficient metabolic performance and calorie burning throughout life 

Iodine is not only important for neural development as we grow, but it also regulates how we burn calories efficiently or not and so it can be related to unwanted weight gain, or fatigue. Protein synthesis, blood flow, brain development, cell growth, reproduction and bone health all need iodine for optimal health outcomes.

Elite athletes can lose more iodine than others through sweating, and so it is important to make sure the iodine intake is there.

Not too much. Not too little. Just right!

The challenge however with iodine is that not too much and not too little is the secret – just right is how it has to be. This is why naturally iodizing salt, which we have to have EVERYDAY, but NOT TOO MUCH, is the best companion for iodine intake.

Although some people have become sensitive to iodine or following thyroid damage can no longer utilize iodine, the majority of us still need to be conscious of where we get it in our diets, and a natural diet is the best way to get it.

You only need trace amounts, and so salt that is naturally iodised with a touch of seaweed could alleviate population scale deficiencies! Such an easy solution that is still so hard to get through.

Keep is simple and keep some PhycoSalt in your salt grinder at home.

PhycoHealth keeping it healthy and safe

Because  iodine is required in trace amounts, there is also the risk is that you can overdose on iodine. Many of you have heard about the risk of too much iodine from seaweed, as some seaweeds are super-concentrators of ocean iodine. This is especially the case for Kombu, of which you should not be eating more than a fraction of a gram per day, if that.

However, this is not the case for all seaweeds, and a little bit of seaweed everyday is the no-brainer way to get your iodine needs naturally. 

PhycoHealth has a long history of research in measuring trace elements across many species of seaweeds, and in particular our own green seaweeds have just the right amount of iodine to be naturally useful in keeping up your iodine requirements, WITHOUT overdosing. You can see on the following chart how our 10g of our green seaweed iodine levels would compare to other seaweeds such as Kombu. You should never eat even a gram of Kombu per day as the safe daily intake of iodine is already exceeded at 0.3g of Kombu.

seaweed and iodine

This is why we can include 10g of our seaweed in staple foods such as pasta, snacks and muesli, and also deliver the other nutritional benefits from the rest of the seaweed, safely. You can expect to get up to 80% of your iodine requirements in a full serving of Phettuccine, while the recommended intake of SeaFibre-3 has very safe iodine levels at less than 20% of the recommended dietary intake for those of you who need to be careful with iodine. But for most of us, it is hard to get too much iodine with PhycoHealth products, and you will not have to worry that you are not getting enough.

If you have already got an overactive thyroid or underactive thyroid, then iodine in your diet may or may not be helpful. You should always consult with your G.P. if you have thyroid health issues, and ask what is the recommended daily intake for you.