Iodine Health, Thyroid & Cancer

iodine health benefits

The mineral iodine is essential for good health, and because our bodies cannot manufacture it, it is critical that we eat foods that contain it. A common criticism of both vegetarian and vegan diets is that they avoid many of the foods that contain iodine. Ironically, there are whole foods that contain as much and, in some cases, more iodine than the most recommended animal sources. A little-known fact is that Iodine can also assist in the prevention of some types of cancers and many types of illnesses.

Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) for iodine intake are 150 mcg in adults, 220-250 mcg in pregnant women, and 250-290 mcg in breastfeeding women in the U.S.

The Best Plant-Based Sources of Iodine:
  • Potatoes, 1 medium, 60mcg
  • Prunes, 5 whole, 13mcg
  • Bananas, 1 medium, 3mcg
  • Corn, ½ cup, 14 mcg
  • Cranberries, 4 ounces, 400mcg
  • Green beans, ½ cup, 3mcg
  • Strawberries, 1 cup, 13 mcg
  • Sea Vegetables
    • Kelp, 7 grams or ¼ oz., 3170 mcg
    • Alaria, 7 grams or ¼ oz., 1162 mcg
    • Dulse, 7 grams or ¼ oz., 1169 mcg
    • Laver, 7 grams or ¼ oz., 98 mcg
    • Sea Lettuce, 7 grams or ¼ oz., 27mcg

We don’t need a lot of iodine; recommendations are expressed in micrograms (a microgram is one-millionth of a gram). Without adequate iodine, however, babies’ brains don’t develop properly, children and adults can become hypothyroid, and pregnancies are more likely to end in miscarriage and stillbirth. Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones and is essential for the thyroid gland to work properly.


Most of the iodine on the earth is found in the ocean. The amount of iodine in soil varies considerably. Areas close to the ocean have more iodine in the soil because of mist from the ocean. Mountainous regions are often low in iodine because of the erosion of the exposed soil leaches iodine. Low-lying areas that are frequently flooded are also typically low in iodine. Soil iodine content is important because it influences the amount of iodine in crops grown on that soil. Fruits and vegetables grown on iodine-rich soil are higher in iodine than those grown in areas where the amount of iodine in soil is low. Interesting facts about Iodine and cancer There is a widespread belief that iodine is only needed by the thyroid gland, when in fact the entire body requires iodine for optimal functioning.

An iodine deficiency in our organs and tissues can cause problems. In the muscles, a deficiency may cause fibromyalgia, pain, fibrosis, nodules and scar tissue. The salivary glands may become unable to produce saliva and lead to dry mouth. Dry skin and an inability to sweat are also acute signs of iodine deficiency. Reduced alertness and lowered IQ is how iodine deficiency affects the brain; in gestating fetuses and young children, a deficiency can have life long repercussions.

Iodine has also been shown to help prevent cancer, by helping the body properly program cells to go into apoptosis (PCD – programmed cell death) when they mutate, thus preventing the proliferation of cancer.

An interesting fact for woman is that breasts contain one of the highest concentrations of iodine in your body. And when it comes to your breasts, iodine deficiency is associated with cyst formation. Many women develop fibrocystic breast disease, with cysts turning into small lumps called nodules. In prolonged iodine deficiency, these nodules become hyperplastic, meaning that an enlargement has formed due to an abnormal multiplication of cells. Hyperplasticity is a precursor to cancer. Long-term iodine deficiency can lead to breast cancer. But the good news is Iodine therapy can kill cancer cells!

The government’s recommended daily allowance for iodine is only a fraction of what’s necessary to promote cancer cell death. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iodine in the USA is only 150 mcg per day for adults, 220 mcg during pregnancy and 290 mcg while breastfeeding, which are all considered minimum levels. And compared to a nation like Japan, which has significantly lower prostate, breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer rates, and where the average daily iodine intake from food sources is approximately 13.8mg (nearly 100 times the U.S. RDA), one cannot help but recognize that the U.S. RDA for iodine is rather minuscule.

The human body cannot create iodine the way it can Vitamin D, so we must consume iodine-rich foods regularly to get our dosages. The human body can hold a total of 1500 mg of iodine, but not everyone in the medical field is convinced that it is safe to consume such large amounts.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding Since iodine is so important during pregnancy and infancy, the American Thyroid Association recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women in the United States and Canada take a prenatal supplement that contains at least 150 micrograms of iodine daily.

Additional iodine for pregnant and breastfeeding women should come from iodized salt. Many prenatal supplements contain iodine but not all do; be sure to check the label. The upper limit for iodine intake for adults is 1,100 micrograms per day, although I have read that 1,000 mg per day is safer. It is safe to say that by ingesting 150 mcg per day should be the goal.


“Better Health, Better Life Through Better Understanding”

 Chef Jeff

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