Iodine Deficiency: What You Need to Know & Where to Find Iodine in Your Diet

Will G
July 15, 2023
5 min read

Spotlight on Iodine

Iodine is an essential trace mineral that the body can not make itself; this means it is incredibly important that we eat the right dietary sources of iodine to meet our needs.

Why do we need Iodine?

Iodine forms a key part of the thyroid hormones which are essential for many body processes throughout our whole lifespan.  Iodine deficiency disorders include endemic goitre (enlarged thyroid gland), hypothyroidism, cretinism, decreased fertility rate, increased infant mortality, and mental retardation. [1] Iodine requirements increase during pregnancy and studies have indicated a low intake of iodine during this critical window may affect brain development resulting in lower IQ, impaired neurodevelopment, and growth retardation (2).  

Throughout childhood iodine remains an important nutrient to support optimal growth, metabolism and bone health so it is vital to be vigilant in ensuring sources of iodine feature regularly within the diet.

How common is iodine deficiency in the UK?

The first national survey of iodine status in the UK for more than 60 years was reported in 2011 and looked at the urinary iodine results from over 700 schoolgirls (14-15 years). The results revealed mild iodine deficiency in 51% of the population, moderate deficiency in 16% and severe deficiency in 1%. Consequently, the authors urged a comprehensive review of iodine status in the UK.3

How much iodine do we need?

  • 1-3yr old: 70 micrograms (mcg)/day
  • 4-6yr old: 100 mcg/day
  • 7-10yr old: 110mcg/day
  • 11-18yr old: 130-140mcg/day
  • Adult: 200mcg/day
  • Pregnancy and lactation: 220-250mcg/day

Where is iodine found?

Iodine is naturally abundant in the oceans with sea vegetables and fish (especially white fish) having the largest concentrations (390 mcg/portion). In the UK diet dairy products are one of the main sources of iodine due to farming practices. Iodine in plant-based foods relies on the iodine content within the soil which is generally low in the UK and Europe so particular attention needs to be paid to sources of iodine if diets are predominantly plant-based.  

What if I am vegan or vegetarian?

It is recommended to consult with a trained healthcare professional such as a dietitian to ensure you are not missing out on any key nutrients, especially if you wish to raise your child on a vegan or vegetarian diet.  

V&Me menu planning

At V&Me the weekly menu is planned to consider all nutrients so you can have the confidence that this is being thought of so you don’t have to!

Fish and seafood are offered twice a week and we use iodine-containing dairy products frequently throughout the menu. Where dishes are adapted to be dairy-free you can be confident that the plant-based milks used are fortified with iodine.  

For more information please see the BDA Iodine factsheet Iodine Food fact Sheet | British Dietetic Association (BDA)


  1. Iodine Deficiency: Background, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology (
  2. Consequences of iodine deficiency and excess in pregnant women: an overview of current knowns and unknowns - PubMed (
  3. Iodine status of UK schoolgirls: a cross-sectional survey - The Lancet

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About the author
Will G
July 15, 2023
Will is our very own in-house baby food expert! He is the go-to for anything baby, weaning, or product related. Working directly with experts, professors and paediatric dietitians, our content aims to keep you up to date on the latest tips, advice and opinions, giving you and your little one the best start for developing healthy eating habits.
Phoenix Baker
Product Manager
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