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In a nutshell:

Iodine is an essential element of the thyroid gland hormone thyroxin.

In depth:

The total amount of iodine in the human body is about 10 to 15 mg. 70% of this amount is stored in the thyroid gland.

Iodine is an important element of the thyroid hormones triiodthyronine (T3) and thyroxin (T4). They regulate many metabolic processes in the body including growth and organ development amongst others.

These hormones influence the division and growth of cells and activate the metabolism. In addition, thyroid hormones stimulate the production of heat in the body thus keeping the body temperature constant.

Requirement, deficiency and oversupply:

Recommended intake according to the DGE*




19 - 25

200 µg

200 µg

25 - 51

200 µg

200 µg

51 - 65

180 µg

180 µg

over 65

180 µg

180 µg

*Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung - a German Nutrition Society.

The soil in Germany is iodine-poor (there are of course regional differences). The current average intake of iodine in Germany (in adults) is only a third of the daily amount recommended by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung.

An iodine deficiency lowers the concentration of the thyroid hormone in the blood. The thyroid gland grows in order to compensate for the deficit. This gives rise to goitre which can cause difficulty when swallowing and breathing.

An overdose of iodine causes hyperfuntioning of the thyroid gland.


Iodine in Food:

The iodine content of plant and animal foods is dependant on the soil. The soil in Germany is iodine-poor. For this reason foods like meat, milk, potatoes and wheat do not have sufficient amounts of iodine in them.

Seafood contains a lot of iodine especially Pollock, codfish, mussels, prawns and algae.

Iodine in 100 g food:

Halibut: 52 µg
Herring,: 28.2 µg
Mackerel: 48 µg
Blue mussels: 130 µg
Prawns: 130 µg
Pollock: 158 µg
Pork liver: 14 µg
Rye bread: 8.5 µg
White bread: 5.8 µg
Cheese: 5 µg
Lemon juice: 5 µg
Potatoes: 3.8 µg
Apple: 1.6 µg

Units: 1.000.000 µg = 1 g

Iodised salt and certain other products with extra iodine such as bread are recommended to prevent an iodine deficiency.

The DGE recommends eating fish one to two times a week and the regular usage of iodised salt and other iodine products.


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