Your body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control how fast your cells work. In the UK, the recommended iodine intake for adults is 140 micrograms per day. Every vegan needs a reliable source of iodine in their diet.
Sources of iodine
There is no easy way of knowing how much iodine is in plant foods. Plant foods (apart from seaweed) may contain a low amount of iodine. The amount of iodine in a plant food varies depending on how much is in the soil the plant is grown in.
Although seaweed is a rich source of iodine, there are several reasons why it may not be the best option. The iodine content of seaweed is variable, and sometimes too high. Also, some types are contaminated.
Iodised salt is not a good option because public health authorities recommend that we cut down on salt.
Arguably, a non-seaweed supplement is the most reliable way of meeting your body’s need for iodine. The Vegan Society markets a daily vitamin and mineral supplement designed for vegans called VEG 1, providing reliable intakes of vitamins B12 and D, iodine and selenium. Please discuss the use of supplements with a health professional to help ensure that they are suitable for you.
Another option is to use a plant milk fortified with iodine. Identify this type of product by looking for potassium iodide in the list of ingredients. Currently, most plant milks are not fortified with iodine.
Need more information? Read our detailed PDF.
Did you know?
During the 20th century, farmers started supplementing animal feed with iodine because research showed that this could make their businesses more productive. This also resulted in a huge increase in the iodine content of cows’ milk, particularly during the winter months when grass is limited. Disinfectants containing iodine also contribute to the iodine content of cows’ milk because they are used to clean teats and tankers. It is probable that supplementation of animal feed boosted the iodine contents of meat and eggs too.
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