Low Iodine Diet Guidelines
The crux of the iodine diet is to control and curtail your iodine consumption (2). The nutrition plan is generally used for medical purposes such as a preparation step in radioactive iodine therapy or after it (9). Therefore, the low iodine diet should be overseen by a doctor or a dietitian closely familiar with your medical history. In order to treat thyroid cancer, a doctor might provide his patients with particular guidelines. As a result, thyroid cells become “hungry” for iodine (8). During the therapy, thyroid cells greedily take in radioactive iodine (8). After that, it is expected that cancer cells will be destroyed. Furthermore, iodine is an important mineral. The body uses it for making thyroid hormones (5). These hormones play a crucial role in developing cells and controlling metabolism (6). The lack of iodine may lead not only extreme weight fluctuations but also an increased risk of iodine deficiency.
The first thing you should do before embarking on this diet is to get a consultation with a dietitian. Generally, the low iodine diet lasts for 1-2 weeks before and after radiation treatments (9). The number of milligrams of iodine a day should be calculated by your doctor. On average, adults need to get 0.15 mg of this element per day (7).
Avoid foods rich in iodine
- Seafood. You should avoid the food items that come from the ocean. Beware of seafood and sea plants (8).
- Supplements. Vitamin supplements should not contain seaweed, kelp and alginate (9).
- Iodized salt. Replace sea salt or iodized salt with non-iodized salt (5).
- Vegetables. Despite the fact that all vegetables are on the menu, you should consume some of them moderately. For instance, cabbage and spinach have higher contents of iodine (1).
- Dried fruits. The concentration of iodine in dried fruits is quite steep. Therefore, it mightbe better to replace dried fruits with fresh ones.
- Dairy products. Practice moderation and keep in mind that Iodine concentration in cow milk is three times higher than in cheese (1).
- Eggs. During the low iodine diet, egg yolks and whole eggs are off-limits (2, 9).
- Additives. Steer clear of such additives as: carrageenan (sea plant), algin, alginates, nori.
- Eating out. During the diet, refrain from dining out or ordering takeaway since there is no optimal way to determine if a restaurant uses ionized salt. Homemade food is made with the ingredients you are perfectly aware of and can therefore have a better control over your iodine intake.
Products that are listed below are natural sources of iodine. If you can’t give up foods rich in iodine, make sure to always steer a middle ground and be very careful not to overshoot your allowed daily allotment. We can’t stress this enough, when it comes to your health and drastic lifestyle/dietary changes, consulting a healthcare professional is paramount!
What can you eat on a low iodine diet?
Low iodine foods:
- Non-dairy spread
- Dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa
- Homemade breads (to have a better control over iodine content – Countries like Australia have mandatory iodine fortification policies for commercial bread)
- Black pepper
- Fresh or frozen fruits
- Fresh or frozen vegetables
- Cooked fresh fruits or vegetables
- Non-dairy milk (rice or coconut and almond milk)
- Egg whites
- Maple syrup
- Unsalted nuts
- Oils (olive, vegetable and nut)
- Cacao butter
- Soft drinks
Products you should limit:
- Iodized and sea salt
- Dairy products (milk, cheese yogurt, butter, ice cream, etc)
- Soybeans (tofu, edamame, soy sauce, soy milk, etc)
- Sea food (fish, shellfish, agar-agar, nori, seaweed)
- Egg yolk and whole egg (if egg yolk has not be removed)
- Most chocolate (because of milk content)
Sample menu for the low iodine diet
- Oatmeal (cereal whole grains) with honey, unsalted nuts and fruits.
- Coffee or tea.
- Salad with olive oil and vinegar.
- Grilled fresh beef and potato.
- Homemade bread with mashed avocado.
- Water or tea.
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- Boiled rice with roasted chicken.
- Dairy free sorbet.
- Water or juice.
- Dark chocolate
- Baked apple
Reduced iodine levels may lead to a number of side effects such as:
- Taste changes
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Feeling cold
It is not an exhaustive list as every person can react differently to such radical dietary changes. To be on the safe side, make sure to follow the recommendations your doctor or dietitian gave you in order not to fall victim to any of the above-mentioned side effects.
Do bananas have iodine?
Yes, bananas contain this element (6).Therefore, it is supremely important to calculate how much you can eat in order not to go over your daily iodine limit. One medium banana holds about 2% of the daily iodine value.
Can I drink Coke on a low iodine diet?
Absolutely, you can drink coke on this diet. However, remember to always check the label first. If one of the ingredients is Red Dye #3 or E127, put that can back where it belongs for your own good (9).
Can you eat bacon on a low iodine diet?
Yes, you can but in permitted amounts. Pre-packaged products are likely to contain iodized salt. Therefore, the best solution in this case is to make fresh unsmoked bacon by yourself at home.
Is celery allowed on a low iodine diet?
Yes, celery is allowed on this diet. However, don’t go overboard with green smoothies and celery-hummus combo. (The reason why people should be careful with celery is because large amounts of celery can interfere with iodine uptake and can result in a goiter (enlarged thyroid).
Consider including some physical activity into your daily routine. Choose the type that meets your health needs and interests. It might be yoga, walking, gym or a short 20 Minute Full Body Workout at Home. Check out the video below, and remember to consult your physician before starting something new.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Database of the Iodine Content of Food and Diets Populated with Data from Published Literature. (2003, nora.nerc.ac.uk)
- Effect of a Low Iodine Diet vs. Restricted Iodine Diet on Postsurgical Preparation for Radioiodine Ablation Therapy in Thyroid Carcinoma Patients. (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Hypothyroidism – new aspects of an old disease. (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Iodine Deficiency in Himalayas Is Believed to Disable Millions. (1985, nytimes.com)
- Iodine. Fact Sheet for Consumers. (2020, ods.od.nih.gov)
- Iodine. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. (2020, ods.od.nih.gov)
- Iodine. Vitamins and minerals. (2020, nhs.uk)
- Lower iodine diet guidelines. (2017, guysandstthomas.nhs.uk)
- Low-Iodine Diet. (2019, mskcc.org)
- Mineral nutrient composition of vegetables, fruits and grains: The context of reports of apparent historical declines. (2017, sciencedirect.com)
- Physicochemical properties of cocoa butter replacers from supercritical carbon dioxide extracted mango seed fat and palm oil mid-fraction blends. (2018, ifrj.upm.edu)
- Severe hyponatremia: a danger of low-iodine diet. (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Should We Be Buying Iodized Salt? (2017, nytimes.com)