What Is the Effect of Too Much Iodine in the Diet?


Quick Answer

Too much iodine in the diet can cause goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland), thyroid inflammation and thyroid cancer. Ironically, these are some of the same conditions caused by an iodine deficiency.

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Full Answer

Iodine is a mineral naturally present in some foods. The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the neck, just below the Adam’s apple, in front of the windpipe. It produces thyroid hormones which act throughout the body, regulating body temperature, metabolism, growth and development. A healthy thyroid is dependent upon iodine in the diet. The recommended daily dosage for adults is 150 micrograms. Foods containing iodine include fish and seafood, milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, bread, cereal and iodized salt. Vegetables and fruits also contain iodine but the amount is dependent upon the iodine content of the soil where they are grown, which varies throughout the world.

Women need about 50% more iodine during pregnancy and sometimes need iodine supplements, widely available in the form of potassium iodide or sodium iodide. More than 1,100 micrograms of iodine a day for adults can cause upset stomach, headache, runny nose, diarrhea and a metallic taste in the mouth. Iodine supplements can interfere with heart medications, high blood pressure and thyroid problems.

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