Kelp Is a Great Source of Iodine

By: Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

Seaweed is a great source of iodine and is critical for normal thyroid functionSeaweed is an excellent source of iodine as well as many other minerals that are critical to good health. Iodine is necessary for many biological functions, but is most critical to the thyroid. The thyroid uses iodine in the synthesis of hormones, particularly thyroxine and triiodothyronine. The bloodstream carries iodide to the thyroid, which is absorbed and used to produce the hormones. This process is controlled by the pituitary gland.

Insufficient iodine can cause the thyroid gland to swell, a condition known as goiter, and disrupt metabolism. The fact that hormones and metabolism are related is an example of how the body is interconnected by many systems. This is illustrated by the neuroendocrine metabolic (NEM) response. The NEM Response takes into consideration nutrient delivery, detoxification, and hormone levels in the body. Iodine plays a crucial role in all of this, as it helps the body create sufficient levels of thyroid hormone, which manages the metabolism and energy levels. Iodine also has many other functions which help to support our entire body, and therefore the NEM Response. Minerals like iodine from seaweed are beneficial to support adrenal fatigue, but also help the body as a whole, and therefore help to bring balance back to the NEM Response, so that adrenal fatigue recovery can happen.

There are several benefits to adding kelp and other iodine rich foods to the adrenal fatigue diet, including:

  • Energy – Even mild iodine deficiency can cause fatigue and sluggishness. Increasing your iodine intake can help boost your energy.
  • Relaxation – Iodine can help ease nervous energy, improving sleep and reducing irritability.
  • Metabolism – Iodine acts as an oxidizing catalyst to help the body burn calories more efficiently, so they are less likely to be stored as fat.
  • Cognition – Studies show that iodine deficiency can cause cognitive impairment and that the brain functions more effectively when given enough of the mineral.
  • Cardiovascular – Studies show cardiovascular benefits of iodine.
  • Bone health – Research shows fractures heal more quickly in those who get enough iodine.

Other foods that are high in iodine include fish and other seafood, radishes, spinach, rhubarb, carrots, berries, onions, and cabbage.

A bowl of seaweed. On top of being a great source of iodine, for you thyroid. Kelp may also help to protect against radiationA dental researcher engaged in research in the Andes Mountains in Peru discovered that each individual carried a small bag of kelp. When he inquired as to the reason, they told him it guards the heart. Somewhere in the history of this tribe, a discovery was made that modern biochemical research now supports. The iodine, calcium, and other minerals it contains can help keep your heart healthy.

In the 1950s, George Cavanaugh, professor of agricultural chemistry at Cornell University, discovered that giving hens kelp supplements yielded better eggs with harder shells. Follow up research showed that bone fractures in humans healed up to 20% more quickly when those patients were given kelp supplements.

One might wonder why kelps is so effective. Folk Medicine (Galahad, 1996) author D.C. Jarvis suggests that it has to do with the similarities in composition between the human body and seawater. According to him, it makes sense that foods obtained from the sea would be those best suited to meeting our mineral needs.

However, most of us really don’t consume enough sea-based foods to meet our mineral needs, and most land-grown foods are grown in mineral-deficient soil. This is why most of us would benefit from consuming more kelp or taking a dietary kelp.

Finally, kelp may help protect against radiation poisoning. Iodine is frequently given to individuals who may be exposed to nuclear radiation to prevent the thyroid from absorbing radioactive iodine. The thyroid only absorbs as much iodine as it can use, and the rest is excreted. So when an individual is given a high dose of iodine, the thyroid is flooded and the radioactive iodine is excreted rather than being absorbed.

In addition to iodine, kelp also contains sodium alginate which, according to a study conducted in 1964, reduced strontium absorption in the intestines by as much as 80%.

Kelp Mung Bean Porridge

Kelp is a great source of iodine and has been shown to keep the heart healthyIngredients:

  • 1 oz. dry kelp or shredded dried kelp– soak till soften, cut in thin strips
  • ¼ cup Mung Beans – soak overnight
  • 5 almonds – soak overnight
  • 5 rose (use for brewing tea) – put in a tea bag or muslin bag
  • Brown sugar or honey to taste


  1. Make sure you wash and soak the mung beans and almonds overnight. Drain when ready to use.
  2. Roughly chopped the almonds after soaked.
  3. Cut the kelp into strips after it is softened.
  4. Add all ingredients except the rose, in a small pot.
  5. Add 2 cups water. Boil for 5 minutes.
  6. Simmer another 30 minutes. Make sure there is enough water.
  7. Add the rose bag last 10 minutes of cooking.
  8. When ready to serve, remove rose and add sweetener as desired.

Serves 1

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