Vegan sushi made with seaweed

Iodine – how much do you need and how should you get it?

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Everyone needs iodine, but it’s especially important for vegans, since many healthy plant foods like flax, soy, and broccoli have compounds, which can interfere with thyroid function in people with not enough iodine intake, and cause goiter/goitre (British spelling) a swelling of the neck because of enlargement of the thyroid gland.

Does that mean you shouldn’t eat these “goitrogenic” foods? Definitely not, they have too many other benefits for you (preventing cancer and fibre, for example).

You just need to get the right amount of iodine in your diet.

If you cook with salt, then use iodized salt, instead of using natural sea salt, and you’ll probably get all the iodine you need.

Iodized salt contains 71 mcg of iodine in 1.5 g (approx 1/4 teaspoon) of iodized salt.

But what about whole foods vegans who avoid salt and oil?

If, for good reason, you don’t add salt to your food you need to get your iodine somewhere.



The best source of iodine is sea vegetables – or you can get it in iodized salt, or in a multivitamin.

Nori Seaweed Package
Laver Nori Nutrition Facts

7 grams of this dried seaweed has 70% of a person’s daily iodine needs.

Don’t cook with iodized salt? Seaweed is a good tasty option for getting iodine.

This table from the World Health Organization lists the recommended dietary allowances for iodine.

Crumbled dried nori seaweed

I urge you to get some dried, oil free, nori seaweed and start adding it to your meals, both for taste and for iodine.

Seaweed is especially tasty in soup.  Try my Bok Choy Tofu Soup, it calls for seaweed.

Dried seaweed adds a salty, base flavour and it is good for you, more than just for iodine.   Studies have shown seaweed inhibits human cancer cell growth, this video outlines a study where scientists found seaweed may have therapeutic potential for liver cancer.

Also, sea vegetables have lots of B vitamins and minerals – particularly iodine.

Just don’t overdo it with the seaweed.

Iodine Upper Limit Daily Intake

A problem with seaweed is: we can get too much iodine.


The World Health Organization places the safe upper limit for iodine at 1,000 micrograms a day for adults and 90 – 120 mcg for kids (depending on age).


Eating 300 micrograms or so of iodine could be too much for a five-year-old.


Make sure you and your family are within the daily limits for iodine by checking the seaweed label.


A little seaweed goes a long way as far as flavour is concerned, by adding a small amount to some of your meals you will find it is quite easy to get the amount of iodine you need, without going over.

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