Why You Should Boost Your Iodine Intake With Kelp

By: Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

Seaweed is a great source of iodine and is critical for normal thyroid functionThe modern western diet is full of processed foods that contain too many preservatives, too much sugar, and are high in fat. This may sound bad enough, but many of these foods also lack essential nutrients. That’s why these days, more and more people are overweight and malnourished at the same time. Many people are eating too much of the wrong foods and as a result, their bodies are still starving. The only way to change this situation is to change what you eat, and that means trying some new and sometimes unexpected foods. Kelp is eaten all over the world and for good reason. It contains iodine, an essential mineral, often lacking in the modern diet, as well as other vital minerals. This makes it a simple and easy way to boost the nutrients you consume in your diet and address deficiencies and their associated health consequences.

The Health Benefits of Eating Kelp

Kelp contains iodine, a vital trace mineral necessary for a number of functions in the body. First and foremost, iodine is essential for thyroid gland function. Your thyroid uses iodine to synthesize hormones, in particular, thyroxine and triiodothyronine. Iodine deficiency can lead to a number of serious health problems and symptoms including the following:

Swollen thyroid gland.

Without iodine, your thyroid can swell, which could cause goiter, an abnormal enlargement of the gland.

Low energy levels.

Even mild iodine deficiency can cause fatigue and sluggishness.

A sluggish metabolism.

Iodine acts as an oxidizing catalyst, which helps your body burn calories more efficiently.

Cognitive impairment.

Studies have shown that iodine deficiency can cause cognitive impairment and prevent the brain from functioning effectively.

Cardiovascular problems.

Studies have shown that iodine is essential for cardiac health and iodine deficiency may cause or worsen cardiovascular problems.

Decreased bone health.

Iodine helps keep your bones healthy and is essential for your body to heal after injury.

Poor sleeping patterns and mood.

Iodine can help ease nervous energy, thereby improving sleep and reducing irritability.

However, iodine isn’t the only mineral found in kelp. In fact, this amazing superfood may contain more minerals than any other food, including trace minerals such as manganese, chromium, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, as well as large amounts of germanium, rubidium, and iridium. This edible algae also contains small amounts of selenium, zinc, and copper. These minerals can correct deficiencies and help to ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function properly. That’s why even healthy people will notice the benefits of eating kelp. And if you’re suffering from a chronic condition like Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), the benefits may go deeper than that.

What is AFS?

A bowl of seaweed. On top of being a great source of iodine, for you thyroid. Kelp may also help to protect against radiationAdrenal fatigue is a common disorder in the modern world yet remains poorly understood and is not recognized by many medical professionals. The condition develops when your body’s natural defense against stress becomes overworked and starts to break down. Unfortunately, the modern world is full of nonstop sources of stress, which means a lot of people are constantly being exposed to any number of stressors at one time. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system controls how your body naturally responds to stress. It can activate your adrenal glands and triggers an increase in cortisol production. The so-called stress hormone prepares your body to react to the immediate threat in order to protect you from harm. However, if your NEM stress response is active for too long, your adrenals can become fatigued and will no longer be able to meet increasing demands for cortisol production, which can result in imbalances within every circuit of your body. As a result, you may start to experience a number of strange and worsening symptoms that are both difficult to live with and impossible to treat. If this situation is allowed to continue, your cortisol levels will start to drop despite the increasing demands, often leading to further imbalances.

Adrenal fatigue can be difficult to identify and typically involves several circuits of the body. This means recovery can be extremely lengthy and often complicated. Treating the individual circuits and symptoms won’t work. Instead, you’ll need to improve your overall health so your body can begin to heal itself. This is where kelp can help. Adrenal fatigue is often accompanied by severe and debilitating nutritional deficiencies mainly due to poor dietary choices. By correcting these deficiencies, you can both reduce your body’s stress levels and give your cells and circuits the nutrients they need to heal and function properly. Since kelp contains a uniquely diverse combination of nutrients, it can be used as an integral part of the AFS recovery process.

AFS and the Hormonal Circuit

The hormonal circuit is comprised of the thyroid, reproductive system, and adrenal glands, all of which are usually affected during the early stages of AFS. Because they are so strongly interconnected, imbalances in one component of the circuit will affect the other two as well. Moreover, these organs are connected to other circuits of the body via hormonal axes. Therefore, when problems arise in one circuit, this can cause imbalances throughout your entire body.

As a result, when the adrenal glands become fatigued because of AFS, this will also affect the thyroid and the reproductive systems. Symptoms of hormonal circuit imbalance can include

  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased fertility
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Mood swings
  • Decreased metabolism
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual irregularities

The Importance of Healing the Thyroid Gland

The thyroid gland is a vital part of the hormonal circuit and is also one of the first organs to start deteriorating when your adrenal glands become fatigued as a result of AFS. But this can also occur as a result of thyroid disease, one of the most common and under-diagnosed problems in the modern world. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, this can affect every aspect of your body and health because the hormones it secretes control the metabolism of every cell in your body. Imbalances in the production of these hormones can result in dry skin, constipation, hair loss, brain fog, fatigue, and depression, all of which are also associated with AFS.

Kelp is a great source of iodine and has been shown to keep the heart healthyThyroid imbalances are one of the most difficult issues to correct, especially if they occur as a result of AFS. Taking thyroid medications can help but does nothing to correct the underlying problem. After the initial boost, medication may actually worsen your underlying condition and increase your body’s overall stress levels. This will cause AFS to advance and may result in decompensation of your thyroid—functional failure of the organ—as well. If you are suffering from AFS, the adrenal fatigue will need to be corrected first before you can heal your hormonal circuit. This will naturally heal your thyroid and help it return it to full function.

The quality and type of food you eat are crucial to your AFS recovery. Eating kelp as part of a healthy balanced diet can support the healing process. This heath-boosting seaweed will not only increase the nutritional content of your diet—which is key to giving your body everything it needs to heal—but will also support and nourish your thyroid. This will give your body the best chance of performing its duties until the underlying problems are alleviated and your body can fully heal.

Chinese Kelp Salad

Ingredients A:

  • 250 g fresh or dried kelp. If using dried kelp, soak according to the directions on the package before cooking.

Ingredients B:

  • 1 tbsp black vinegar
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 Thai pepper, finely chopped

Ingredients C:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Ingredients D:

  • A handful of coriander, to taste


  1. Roll ingredients A and cut them into shredded strips.
  2. Wash in cold water to remove excess salt.
  3. Boil a pot of water and cook Ingredients A for 2 minutes.
  4. Drain and set aside.
  5. Combine Ingredients B and mix well.
  6. Heat Ingredients C until hot and pour over Ingredients B. Mix well.
  7. Pour the sauce over Ingredients A.
  8. Add Ingredients D to taste. Serve immediately.

The Takeaway

If you would like to improve your overall health and increase your mineral intake, kelp is a super easy way to do this. The amazing seaweed can help correct iodine deficiencies and give your body the nutrients it needs to function correctly. Kelp can also help to heal and rebalance your hormonal circuit, including your thyroid gland, which can cause a variety of hormonal problems if not functioning properly. Imbalances of the thyroid are a key part of AFS, which makes kelp a particularly beneficial addition to your diet if you are suffering from this condition. Adding kelp to your diet could help to correct these imbalances and increase your overall nutrition, which is essential for AFS recovery.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Kelp contains iodine, one of the most essential minerals for a healthy body. It also contains other essential trace minerals, which makes it an easy way to give your body many of the nutrients it needs to function properly.