Iodine in Salt and Why You Need It!

In the previous article I posted on salt, I only mentioned salt and the fads of sea salt versus table salt, and whether “natural” is better than “table salt.” I also posted a link and a drawing created by ScienceforKids that gives a visual explanation of what it looks like on a chemical level and a picture of what sodium looks like from Wikipedia. But there is the famous iodine! It confuses people since many do not know what it does and what it is. To make it more complicated there is iodide, iodate, iodine, potassium iodate, etc. Salt manufacturers label their salt with whichever and what they put in all lead to iodine in the salt only the iodine is connected to the NaCl molecule in a different way to form the molecule iodized salt.

To make it easier on me, I am quoting here Wikipedia on what Iodized Salt does:

Iodised salt (also spelled iodized salt) is table salt mixed with a minute amount of various salts of the element iodine. The ingestion of iodide prevents iodine deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities.[1][verification needed] Deficiency also causes thyroid gland problems, including “endemic goitre“. In many countries, iodine deficiency is a major public health problem that can be cheaply addressed by purposely adding small amounts of iodine to the sodium chloride salt.

Iodine is a micronutrient and dietary mineral that is naturally present in the food supply in some regions, especially near sea coasts, but is generally quite rare in the Earth’s crust, since iodine is a so-called “heavy” element (with the highest atomic mass of any element needed by mammals for life), and abundance of chemical elements generally declines with greater atomic mass. Where natural levels of iodine in the soil are low and the iodine is not taken up by vegetables, iodine added to salt provides the small but essential amount of iodide needed by humans.

So as you can see, iodized salt is mandatory. You can click on the links under each word and it will take you back to Wikipedia for further explanation of what is what and why. As for the various forms of iodine, I thought I help you see what is what easier if I collect the information here for you on one page.

Here is what potassium iodate is from Wikipedia:

Potassium iodate is sometimes used for iodination of table salt to prevent iodine deficiency. Because iodide can be oxidized to iodine by molecular oxygen under wet conditions, US companies add thiosulfates or other antioxidants to the potassium iodide. In other countries, potassium iodate is used as a source for dietary iodine. It is also an ingredient in some baby formula milk.

Here is iodine from Wikipedia:

Iodine is a chemical element with symbol I and atomic number 53. The name is from Greek ἰοειδήςioeidēs, meaning violet or purple, due to the color of elemental iodine vapor.[2]

Iodine and its compounds are primarily used in nutrition, and industrially in the production of acetic acid and certain polymers. Iodine’s relatively high atomic number, low toxicity, and ease of attachment to organic compounds have made it a part of many X-ray contrast materials in modern medicine. Iodine has only one stable isotope. A number of iodine radioisotopes are also used in medical applications.

Iodine is found on Earth mainly as the highly water-soluble iodide ion I, which concentrates it in oceans and brine pools. Like the other halogens, free iodine occurs mainly as a diatomic molecule I2, and then only momentarily after being oxidized from iodide by an oxidant like free oxygen. In the universe and on Earth, iodine’s high atomic number makes it a relatively rare element. However, its presence in ocean water has given it a role in biology. It is the heaviest essential element utilized widely by life in biological functions (only tungsten, employed in enzymes by a few species of bacteria, is heavier). Iodine’s rarity in many soils, due to initial low abundance as a crust-element, and also leaching of soluble iodide by rainwater, has led to many deficiency problems in land animals and inland human populations. Iodine deficiency affects about two billion people and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual disabilities.[3]

Iodine is required by higher animals for synthesizing thyroid hormones, which contain the element. Because of this function, radioisotopes of iodine are concentrated in the thyroid gland along with nonradioactive iodine. If inhaled, the radioisotope iodine-131, which has a high fission product yield, concentrates in the thyroid, but is easily remedied with non-radioactive potassium iodide treatment.

An image of iodine also from the same article in Wikipedia



Iodine is a necessary element in salt to protect the thyroid. It was also the first item that was gone from all the shelves in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami shaken nuclear plant, started leaked (and is still leaking) radiation. Iodine can help the thyroid sponge up radiation from the body. It can save your life.

Many countries (in fact most countries) do not mandate iodine in their salt, except for the US. This helped clear the “goiter belt” in the US where the soil naturally does not contain enough iodine and the plants the US population ate were deficient of iodine. Thus the US placed iodine into salt so that the masses can be properly protected.

This of course, now with the sea salt fad, is all going out the window since many sea salts come without iodine. In fact people even in the US proudly tell me they eat salt without iodine since they do not need it. This is a lovely misconception that will end in the goiter belt’s return by the end of the 21st Century, when the youth of today and their children all without sufficient iodine will end up with goiter and without enough thyroid hormone to start with.

It is time for the US population to wake up and discover that nature creates things that are important for our survival–we were made of them! If we drop them out of our lives, we will also drop out of life. It is that simple. So the next time you buy your salt, be it any name or brand or color of your preference, make sure it has iodine. Also make sure you don’t get too much iodine!

Grow the habit of using iodized salt for cooking and the rest of the salt you take in say for excessive sweating from heat or exercise, use salt without iodine. The iodine in the salt you cook with is enough iodine for your daily need!

Comments are welcome!


About Be Healthy

Angela A Stanton, PhD, is a Neuroeconomist who evaluates changes in behavior, chronic pain, decision-making, as a result of hormonal variations in the brain. She lives in Southern California. Her current research is focused on migraine cause, prevention and treatment without the use of medicines. As a migraineur, her discovery was helped by experimenting on herself. She found the cause of migraine to be at the ionic level, associated with disruption of the electrolyte homeostasis, resulting from genetic mutations of insulin and glucose transporters, and voltage gated sodium and calcium channel mutations. Such mutations cause major shifts in a migraine brain, unlike that of a non-migraine brain. A non-migraineur can handle electrolyte changes on autopilot. A migraineur must always be on manual guard for such changes to maintain electrolyte homeostasis. The book Fighting The Migraine Epidemic: How To Treat and Prevent Migraines Without Medicines - An Insider's View explains why we have migraines, how to prevent them and how to stay migraine (and medicine) free for life. As a result of the success of the first edition of her book and new research and findings, she is now finishing the 2nd edition. The 2nd edition is the “holy grail” of migraines, incorporating all there is to know at the moment and also some hypotheses. It includes an academic research section with suggestions for further research. The book is full of citations to authenticate the statements she makes to be followed up by those interested and to spark further research interest. While working on the 2nd edition of the book she also published academic articles: "Migraine Cause and Treatment" Mental Health in family Medicine, November 23, 2015, open access "Functional Prodrome in Migraines" Journal of Neurological Disorders, January 22, 2016, open access "Are Statistics Misleading Sodium Reduction Benefits?", Journal of Medical Diagnostic Method, February 3, 2016, open access “A Comment on Severe Headache or Migraine History Is Inversely Correlated With Dietary Sodium Intake: NHANES 1999-2004” Angela A Stanton PhD, 19 July 2016 DOI: 10.1111/head.12861 not open access, subscription is required to read it. Dr. Stanton received her BSc at UCLA in Mathematics, MBA at UCR, MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, PhD in NeuroEconomics at Claremont Graduate University, and fMRI certification at Harvard University Medical School at the Martinos Center for Neuroimaging for experimenting with neurotransmitters on human volunteers. For relaxation Dr. Stanton paints and photographs. Follow her on Twitter at: @MigraineBook
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14 Responses to Iodine in Salt and Why You Need It!

  1. Pingback: What Salt Are You Eating? | cluelessdoctors

  2. Please be careful with Iodine in any form if you have Hashimotos disease at it can increase your antibodies dramatically! This causes a greater auto-immune attack and makes these thyroid patients much worse. When dealing with Hashimotos it is best to concentrate on suppressing the thyroid to stop the attack (medication) and then figuring out what is causing autoimmunity (usually food such as wheat, dairy, eggs, corn, etc.). Once you stop the autoimmunity, medication can be weaned off and iodine may be able to be consumed then. I have studied thyroid for nearly 20 years now (Phd in Holistic Nutrition too) and have known many who have gotten heavier, more tired and lost more hair when adding iodine to their diets. If this happens to you, suspect Hashimotos and get tested for anitbodies and stop taking any iodine until you can heal the autoimmunity. I got extremely ill adding iodine into my diet. I hope you will allow this post Angela as taking extra iodine can really damage those with Hashimotos and caution should be taken.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree Sharon and thank you for your post. I suppose those who have Hashimotos will know about from their doctors–they should! If they are not told, they have a problem with their doctors! I hope that those who read the article read also your comment! Thanks Sharon! I will see if I can bold some of your answers!

      Liked by 1 person

      • My Mom was diagnosed with Hashimoto post surgery for thyroid cancer….They never tested her antibodies. But once they got to her thyroid they could see it had been eaten away and that it weighed less than half what it should have. Doctors wouldn’t test me for Celiac. …So I ordered my own test which was positive. You have to be your own advocate!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Iodine in Salt and Why You Need It! by Clueless doctors.. | SHERRI OF PALM SPRINGS

  4. Roald Michel says:

    For more than 40 years my weight hasn’t changed much and my neck looks like that of a swan.

    Sure, blame poor iPhone.


    • It is not you Roald.. women are the ones most sensitive for the lack of iodine. Most women my age have no thyroid and are on medication for replacement. That is the reason. Males have less of a problem since males have hormones in less “important” places shall we say and manufactured less often (lol.. haha) than females. And the thyroid is the second largest hormonal glad on a human–the brain is #1… food for though.. think of your beautiful wife. 🙂 Now kelp does have iodine and you may get enough. But countries where that is not a food–like the UK–this is a problem. A friend of mine in the UK is trying to get salt with iodine.. can’t even get it in the store! Crazy!


  5. Roald Michel says:

    We never add salt when cooking. However we do add sometimes salt during meals when we feel like it. The kind we use contains kelp which I believe is a source of iodine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes kelp has some Roald. Not sure if enough. Hypoactive thyroid (gaining weight) or enlarged thyroid (goiter) are 2 signs if you do or don’t get enough. I personally don’t take chance and eat the salt with iodine. We also get a ton of radioactive junk from the Japanese tsunami and so extra iodine is good to save us from undue radiation.


      • Nancy says:

        For a hypothyrode woman in her 50’s, how does one determine how much extra iodine to take? Is it just trial and error?


        • Hi Nancy. There is a table at the end of one of my posts that gives you the iodine amount you need–provided you are not on synthetic thyroid replacement medications and do not have Hashimoto’s disease. You find the article here but in short you seem to need 150 mcg a day.


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