Where do vegetarians and vegans get their iodine?

Iodine isn’t the first thing you think of when you think about plant-based nutrition. However, vegetarians and vegans need to pay attention to this nutrient in order to be healthy. But don’t worry, getting enough iodine on a vegetarian or vegan diet is as easy as pie.

Here are answers to frequently asked iodine questions and practical suggestions for meeting your iodine needs, all backed up with quotes from registered dietitians. All the information in quotes comes from an article written by registered article written by registered dietitian Reed Mangels , an article written by registered dietitian Jack Norris. and the American Dietetic Association’s position paper about vegetarianism.

1. How much iodine do I need?

If you are over thirteen, you need about 150 micrograms of iodine per day.

If you are under thirteen, but over nine, you need about 120 micrograms of iodine per day.

Since it is easy to get enough iodine on a vegetarian or vegan diet, don’t worry about the numbers. Instead, see the recommendations in question four.

2. Is it possible to get enough iodine on a a vegetarian or vegan diet?

It is possible to get enough iodine, as with every nutrient, on a vegan or vegetarian diet. According to the American Dietetic Association, “a [total] vegetarian diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients [protein, n-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, iodine, calcium, and vitamins D and B-12]”

3. Are animals a better source of iodine than plants?

According the the American Dietetic Association’s position paper on vegetarianism, “plant-based diets are typically low in iodine.” However, it is still possible and easy to receive enough iodine on a vegan diet. There are easy, vegan ways to meet your iodine requirements, as shown in the answers to question four.

4. How can I make sure to get enough iodine?

The easiest way to get enough iodine is to use iodized salt. Iodized salt is very easy to find, and most salt is iodized anyway. Many people use it already, regardless of whether they are an omnivore or vegan. “A slightly rounded half teaspoonful of iodized salt provides the recommended amount of iodine.” (Reed Mangels, RD)

You can also take an iodine supplement to reach your iodine needs.

Disclaimer: Do not take this information as medical advice.  I am not an expert in nutrition, but I cite many credentialed doctors and registered dietitians.  Please see a qualified healthcare professional for advice.

Craig, Winston J., PhD, MPH, RD, and Ann R. Mangels, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109.7 (2009): 1266-282. Print.

Norris, Jack, RD. “Iodine.” Vegan Health. Vegan Outreach, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2013. <>.