Unfortunately for most of us, getting enough iodine through a normal diet isn’t easy. And we lose Iodine daily in our urine. Ironically, most of the time the “healthier” the diet, the less iodine is consumed.

It’s a simple equation: if you don’t get enough Iodine in your body, you can’t make enough thyroid hormone.

We can usually maintain adequate levels in our diet by using iodized table salt (unless you’re restricted), by eating Iodine-rich food and taking multi-vitamins that have Iodine.

The further away you live from the ocean, the less Iodine in the soil that grows your food. The “Goiter Belt” is what they used to call the upper Midwest and Great lakes regions where, because of the low iodine content in the soil, many of the residents developed Goiters, (enlarged thyroids) due to Iodine deficiency. Over a long period of time, the soil in which we grow our food has been depleted of Iodine. Soil with low Iodine means less Iodine in produce, which translates to insufficient Iodine for us.

It’s bad enough that our food and soil have been slowly stripped of iodine over the ages. To make things worse, we’ve created iodine absorption problems of our own! Thanks to public health policy and modern commercial practices, competing halogens are so prevalent in our lives:

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Iodine and Iodine Deficiency
Iodine is the key element needed for the production of thyroid hormone. While it’s naturally present in soil and seawater, our bodies do not manufacture our own Iodine, it relies on diet for our daily dose. Hence, iodine deficiency is caused simply by not having enough Iodine in our diet. 

Chlorine is added to most municipal water supplies in levels so high you can literally smell it. It is also added to many food products as Sucralose (Splenda™ is just one of too many examples).

Bromine is used in soft drinks (such as Mountain Dew™ and Gatorade™) and as a dough conditioner in baked goods. It’s hidden in many medications as well.

Fluoride is found in our public water supply, toothpaste, and medicine. It blocks iodine absorption and inhibits your thyroid’s ability to use absorbed iodine. The average daily amount of fluoride we typically consume is 2.3-4.5 mg/day, compared to the amount known to depress thyroid function which is >1.6 mg/day!

Iodine is a halogen. And halogens compete for absorption in the thyroid gland. If other halogens are present in your body, it makes it very hard for you to absorb needed Iodine. This further weakens your ability to produce T4 and sets off a chain reaction of health problems.

Iodine Blockers
However, the amount of Iodine in foods is not listed on food packaging in the U.S., and it’s quite difficult to identify good sources of iodine in our food.
Soy is a major iodine blocker. Soybeans and soybean products such as tofu, tempeh, soy-milk and other refined soy and soy-based meat substitutes contain Isoflavones. These act as Goitrogens. Generally, they’re not a problem. However, to an under-active thyroid, they suppress and interfere with your body’s ability to use iodine properly. 

Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, mustard greens, Bok Choy, cress, cauliflower, kale, lima beans, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes, and kohlrabi also contain Goitrogens that disrupts messages sent across the membranes of thyroid cells. Fortunately, cooking—especially steaming—deactivates the iodine-blocking agent in these veggies. You don’t have to give up these veggies completely—just make sure to cook them well.