Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Iodine fortification of bread

Iodine fortification of bread
beginning of content

Iodine

3-minute read

Iodine is an element that is essential for normal growth and for the development of the brain. It’s a good idea to know how much iodine you’re eating. A healthy diet needs enough iodine, but too much can cause health problems. Many Australians have enough iodine in their diet, but some don’t.

What does iodine do?

Iodine helps the thyroid gland, in your neck, make the hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine controls many of the ways certain cells in your body work.

Thyroxine is important for the growth of your bones and nerves, and how proteins, fats and carbohydrates are used in your body.

How do you get iodine?

You get iodine from food. Seafoods such as oysters, snapper and seaweed have lots of iodine. Tinned salmon, bread, eggs, milk and milk products such as yoghurt also contain iodine.

Iodine is also added to many types of salt. You can check on the label.

Iodised salt is now used in bread making. The packaging will tell you how much iodine the bread contains.

How much iodine do you need?

How much iodine you need depends on your age and stage of life:

Stage of life Recommended daily intake for iodine (micrograms per day)
Children aged 1 to 8 90
Children aged 9 to 13 120
Adolescents aged 14 to 18 150
Pregnant women 220
Breastfeeding women 270
Other adult women 150
Adult men 150

Source: Food Standards Australia and New Zealand

Too little or too much iodine can cause problems.

Too little iodine may cause extreme tiredness, feeling cold, problems concentrating and hair loss. And without enough iodine, the thyroid gland may enlarge to form a goitre. It shows up as a lump in the neck.

Too much iodine (usually from supplements) can be dangerous for people with thyroid disorders.

Iodine and pregnancy

If you are pregnant, check if you are eating enough iodine. Low iodine levels can increase the risk of a miscarriage. They can also lead to stunted growth and intellectual disability in the baby. The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy take an iodine supplement of 150 micrograms a day. Talk to your doctor about this. Women who have a thyroid condition should not take iodine supplements until they have checked with their doctor.

Getting enough iodine

Eating the five food groups will make sure you get enough iodine easily. Iodised salt contains iodine, but too much salt increases the risk of high blood pressure. Your doctor can help you make sure you are eating enough iodine.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Iodine in Tasmania | Public Health

Tasmanians are now getting the ideal amount of iodine in their diets, thanks to an Australian first initiative

Read more on Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services website

Iodine - Better Health Channel

Good sources of iodine include fortified bread and any type of seafood, including seaweed.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Iodine Facts | Nutrition Australia

Iodine is an essential trace element and an integral component of thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones are required for normal growth and development of tissues and maturation of our bodies. Iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of mental retardation in the world; obtaining iodine through the food supply is therefore paramount.

Read more on Nutrition Australia website

Iodine - myDr.com.au

Iodine is important for your thyroid gland, and iodine deficiency can cause problems, especially in unborn and newborn babies. Find out how to ensure your iodine intake is adequate.

Read more on myDr website

Iodine supplementation - Maternal and newborn

iodine supplementation for women thinking of having a baby, during preganancy and breastfeeding

Read more on NSW Health website

Why do pregnant and breastfeeding women need more iodine? Dietitians Association of Australia

Why do pregnant and breastfeeding women need more iodine? The thyroid, the gland which stores iodine, is more active duringpregnancy

Read more on Dietitians Association of Australia website

About salt in your child's diet

Most of the salt we eat now comes from processed foods. Find out how your family can cut back on how much salt you eat.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Kids' Health - Topics - Salt - information for kids

The salt that we eat is called sodium chloride

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Vitamins and nutritional supplements - myDr.com.au

Vitamins and nutritional supplements are intended to provide essential nutrients missing from the diet. Find out what vitamin and nutritional supplements are available.

Read more on myDr website

Children and vitamins

Very few kids actually need to take vitamin and mineral supplements, they can get everything they need from a balanced diet.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo