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Seaweed as a Rich Source of Iodine: What to Know

Did you know that seaweed is a rich source of iodine? Iodine is an essential nutrient that supports thyroid function. Kelp (brown seaweed) contains the highest amount of iodine per ounce, but it's important to know that too much iodine can be unhealthy for you. The great news is, you can get nutritional benefits of kelp simply by consuming small doses. Other varieties of seaweed contain less iodine and have a moderately different nutrition profile.

Seaweed has anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties, and kelp has anti-viral qualities. Seaweed is also alkaline and a natural detoxifier. This is what makes seaweed an excellent addition to your diet, and it's easy to include it since you only need small amounts to attain its nutritional benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Iodine?

Iodine is an important nutrient that helps support your thyroid function. Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones that regulate your metabolism (the way your body uses energy). Iodine deficiency can lead to goiter (an enlarged thyroid), as well as other problems with brain development and function.

While iodine is found in many foods, seaweed is one of the richest sources of iodine. Just a teaspoon of dried seaweed flakes or powder may contain much more than the recommended daily value for iodine (which is 150 micrograms per day, per the American Thyroid Association). The exact amount of iodine depends on the type of seaweed.

How Much Iodine Is Too Much?

Because iodine is found in a few different types of food, such as dairy, seafood, and seaweed, it's possible to get too much iodine. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) for iodine is 1100 micrograms per day for adults. This means that you can safely consume up to 1100 micrograms of iodine each day without experiencing any negative health effects. However, because seaweed is such a rich source of iodine, you only need to eat a small amount each day in order to meet your needs.

If you have a condition such as hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), you should ask your doctor before consuming seaweed products.

How Much Iodine is in Seaweed?

The iodine content of seaweed varies depending on the type. Kelp contains the most. Kombu kelp, for example, contains about 800 micrograms (mcg) of iodine per ounce, while sugar kelp and Atlantic Wakame (Alaria Escuelenta) contain approximately 550 mcg of iodine per ounce (on average). 

Dulse, a red seaweed, has about 45 mcg of iodine per ounce. Nori, an edible seaweed that is popular in Japanese cuisine, has about 16 mcg of iodine per ounce. Nori sheets are used in sushi rolls. And Irish moss, a type of seaweed often used to thicken smoothies, has about 11 mcg of iodine per ounce.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Seaweed?

In addition to iodine, seaweed is a good source of other minerals, including selenium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and iron. It also contains vitamins A, B-12, C, and E.

All these nutrients can be beneficial for your health. For example:

  • Selenium helps protect cells from damage and supports thyroid function.
  • Magnesium is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body and helps regulate blood sugar levels and nerve function.
  • Iron is necessary for red blood cell production and energy metabolism.
  • Vitamin A is important for vision, bone growth, and immune system function
  • Vitamin B-12 is essential for normal nerve function and DNA synthesis.
  • Vitamin C aids in wound healing, iron absorption, and immune system function.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
  • Potassium helps muscles contract and supports normal fluid levels in cells.
  • Manganese enables blood clotting and the formation of connective tissues, which supports bone strength and the circulatory system.

So, there are many reasons to add seaweed to your diet! Just be sure to consume it in moderation to get the iodine you need without exceeding the UL. Including a variety of other iodine-rich foods in your diet can also help you meet your iodine needs while staying within the UL.

How Can I Get the Benefits of Seaweed?

You can get the benefits of seaweed by consuming just half a teaspoon of milled dried kelp per day. Our Atlantic Wakame Soup Booster™ is kelp flakes and our Power Kelp Seasoning™ contains milled kelp. Half a teaspoon of powdered sea lettuce (included in our Cinnamon Seaweed Smoothie Blast) can provide 12% your daily value of iron and 10% your daily value of magnesium.

Cooking seaweed till it is tender can reduce the iodine up to 90%. Soaking and boiling seaweed for at least ten minutes can also reduce iodine levels.

How to Add Seaweed to Your Diet

At Seaweed for the People™, we provide a few easy ways to add seaweed to your diet. Check out our store so you can get started on the process of integrating seaweed into your diet and experiencing its unique health benefits!