Iodine deficiencies in developed countries are rare. If you have a condition that interferes with iodine absorption, or cut back severely on table salt, you may put yourself at risk for hypothyroidism. This condition, characterized by a visibly enlarged thyroid gland, results in fatigue, weight gain and temperature sensitivity. Iodine deficiency also leads to poor growth and development in children.
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Recommended Iodine Amounts
The standard amount of iodine recommended for the general population is 150 mcg for teens and adults and 90 to 120 mcg for children. Most adults should not consume more than 1,100 mcg, or 1.1 mg, each day. For children, the maximum amount, known as the upper intake level, or UL, is 200 mcg for toddlers, 300 mcg for children 4 to 8, 600 mcg for ages 9 to 13 and 900 mcg for teens. If your doctor determines that you have a severe iodine deficiency, she will determine the best dosage of kelp supplements or other iodine supplements.
Kelp as Food
In non-Asian countries, fresh kelp is less common than dried kelp. Cooks use ground dried seaweed to season dishes, and reconstituted sheets or strands of dried seaweed for everything from sushi wraps to seaweed salads. According to Linus Pauling Institute, the iodine content such as kelp and other dried seaweed varies. A ¼ cup serving of dried seaweed may contain as much as 4,500 mcg of iodine. The recommended maximum amount of daily iodine is 1,100 mcg. Read labels carefully to avoid consuming more iodine than your doctor recommends.
Federal regulations prohibit kelp supplements from containing more than 225 mcg iodine per tablet. This amount works out to about 150 percent of the recommended daily amount, and is about one-quarter of the amount deemed dangerous in adults. As with kelp as a food source, asking your doctor for the safest amount to treat an iodine deficiency without ingesting dangerous levels is the safest way to determine the best dosage level for you.
As the name suggests, iodized table salt provides iodine. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that vegetable and animal products harvested from the iodine-rich ocean tend to be good sources of the mineral. Look for seaweeds like wakame, arame, nori, kambu, hijiki and dulse in supermarkets or in Asian markets. Health food stores also carry ground seaweed for seasoning and nutritional supplements. Shrimp, cod and tuna are especially high in the mineral, reports LPI. Other iodine sources include navy beans, potatoes, eggs and milk. The University of Maryland Medical Center additionally recommends Swiss chard, turnip greens, lima and soybeans, sesame seeds and garlic.