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What Are the Side Effects of Taking Liquid Iodine Kelp?

author image Kelli Cooper
Kelli Cooper has been a writer since 2009, specializing in health and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers University and is a certified personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise.
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Liquid Iodine Kelp?
Bowl of kelp powder on a wood surface Photo Credit: marekuliasz/iStock/Getty Images

Kelp and other forms of seaweed have long been consumed in Japan and other Asian nations. It has a rich store of iodine, a nutrient necessary for thyroid function, growth and development and brain health and many people use kelp supplements as source of iodine. Since iodine can stimulate the thyroid, it has been traditionally used as a treatment for hypothyroidism and related conditions, such as obesity. Excess consumption of iodine-rich liquid kelp supplements can result in several negative health effects. Talk to your doctor about the appropriateness of using this supplement to address your particular health concern.

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Goiter notes several reports of goiter in Japan from excess consumption of iodine-rich seaweed products like kelp. Goiter is a swelling of the thyroid gland that results in an unattractive lump at the base of the neck. Discontinuing consumption of seaweed products appears to correct the problem.

Impaired Thyroid Function

While your body requires iodine for normal thyroid function, taking too much can induce hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and other conditions affecting the thyroid. Taking liquid kelp iodine to treat hypothyroidism will only provide benefit if your condition results from insufficient production. The University of Michigan Health System notes that a deficiency, however, is quite rare in the Western world due to the consumption of iodine-fortified salts and other iodine-rich foods. While it is possible that your hypothyroidism might result from low iodine, it is unlikely. Do not use this supplement without determining if this is the cause of your low thyroid function.


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center notes case reports of kelp causing or aggravating acne due to iodine content. Iodine can stimulate oil production, which leads to clogged pores that ultimately result in acne lesions.

Kelp Intake Guidelines reports that the United States considers a maximum daily intake of 1,000 mcg of iodine generally safe. It also notes, however, that the dose at which a person suffers negative reactions can vary between individuals and that some people might be able to tolerate higher amounts. Your doctor can help determine an appropriate dose.

Other Safety Concerns

Besides its high iodine content, some other safety concerns surround the use of liquid kelp products. Other adverse effects include inflammation, gastrointestinal complaints and cholera. Some supplements have been found to contain dangerous amounts of arsenic, which the seaweed can absorb from the water.

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