Evidence-Based Nutrient Recommendations

Iodine: Updated

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by Jack Norris, RD

We have extensively updated our page on Iodine.

In researching issues surrounding the recent EPIC-Oxford bone fracture study that found vegans to have a higher rate of fracture (Tong, 2020), I came across a serious researcher who suggested that the poor iodine status of vegans could be playing a role in the higher fracture rates.

Information on the iodine status of vegans has trickled out over the years, with many studies being released more recently. It was time to take a less piecemeal approach to the subject and instead commit to a thorough review. In so doing, it became apparent that urinary iodine concentration (UIC), the main measurement used to determine the iodine status of a population, has been applied to adult vegans in ways that are questionably relevant and have likely exaggerated the iodine status of vegans as a group.

This doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for an individual to fall short of iodine recommendations. Our previous recommendation was to consume at least half of the RDA through supplemental sources. But since it’s not clear what percentage of the RDA can be supplied by food, we’ve increased our recommendations to suggest that vegans should meet the entire RDA for iodine through non-food sources which include supplements and iodized salt.

If the subject of iodine and vegetarian or vegan diets interests you, I hope you’ll give the article a look: Iodine.

Tong TYN, Appleby PN, Armstrong MEG, Fensom GK, Knuppel A, Papier K, Perez-Cornago A, Travis RC, Key TJ. Vegetarian and vegan diets and risks of total and site-specific fractures: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study. BMC Med. 2020 Nov 23;18(1):353.

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  • If you have a question about whether it's okay to cut supplements in half or combine supplements to achieve the dose we recommend, the answer is “Yes.” Be aware that nutrient recommendations are only estimates—it's not necessary to consume the exact amount we recommend every single day.
  • We aren't able to respond to questions about which brands of supplements to take.
  • We cannot provide personal nutrition advice for specific health conditions. If you need private counseling, here's a list of plant-based dietitians and we especially recommend VeganHealth contributor Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN.
  • We urge you to consult with a qualified health professional for answers to your personal questions.