Iodine in Salt: Why Is It Added?

Iodine in Salt

Most kitchen cupboards in the United States probably contain a box of iodized salt. Most salts sold in supermarkets display on the label, “This salt supplies iodine, a necessary nutrient.” But do you know why the iodine in salt is added?

Tiny amounts of several different iodine-containing salts are added to table salt since the common American diet provides very little. Iodized Salt can be damaging though.

Iodine in Salt History

Iodine was added to salt around 1924, at the request of government initiatives, due to the growing need for regulation of iodine deficiency disorders. In the 1920’s era in the United States, the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest region of the country experienced high incidences of goiter (a common thyroid-malfunction-based condition). This was because their soil levels were extremely low in iodine, and people weren’t eating iodine rich foods.

Researchers at the University of Michigan decided to copy a Swiss practice of adding iodine to cooking salt, in order to attempt to remedy the problem. Goiter occurrences dropped drastically as a result, and the practice soon became standard [1].

In fact, due to the successes seen in Michigan, iodine-enhanced salts were sold by the Morton Salt Company for the first time, on a national scale. Regulations committees saw that it would be easy to take a simple and cost-effective measure to prevent this health imbalance, and for about $0.05 per person per year, salt became iodized.

Salt was used as the carrier for iodine because it was an easy, spoil-free method of getting iodine into the food chain. Salt is a food that almost everyone eats throughout the day, and everyday. Iodized salt was also added to animal feed, as it also offered thyroid support benefits for livestock as well.

So, Why is Iodine in Salt Bad?

Things have changed since the 1920’s with the manufacturing of toxic chemicals and more cost effective ways of harvesting salt. Most of the salt harvested then was natural salt from the sea or from natural salt deposits and contained the beneficial trace mineral iodine.

Table Salt or “Iodized Salt” is not a healthy naturally occurring rock, crystal or sea salt. It is a manufactured type of sodium called sodium chloride with added iodide.

Iodine in salt available at grocery stores, restaurants and in practically all processed foods, have synthetic chemicals added to them. These chemicals may include manufactured forms of iodide, sodium solo-co-aluminate, fluoride sodium bicarbonate, toxic amounts of potassium iodide, anti-caking agents and aluminium derivatives. Table salt has also been bleached. Unfortunately, most table salt is not only unhealthy, but is toxic to the body and should never be considered as a source of healthy iodine.

Salt found in nature is not usually white it is pink in color such as Himalayan Crystal salt which is harvested in pristine mountains and naturally dried in the sun.

Of course, we need this iodine because the thyroid gland requires it for making thyroxine and triiodothyronine, two key hormones for metabolic function. Commonly used forms of iodine include potassium iodate, potassium iodine, sodium iodate and sodium iodine. Each of these forms of iodine offers the body the needed T4 and T3 hormones by the thyroid gland.

Is Salt-Based Iodine Enough?

Using iodine-fortified table salt may still put you at risk for micronutrient deficiencies. A study done at the University in Texas at Arlington, and published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology, found that salt alone cannot prevent iodine deficiency [2].

The research looked into iodine levels in over 80 types of commonly-sold iodized salt brands, and found that 47 of them (over half!) did not meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation for healthy iodine levels. Moreover, with time, iodine levels tend to decrease in salt products that are left in humid conditions. The study concluded that only about 20% of the so-called “iodized” salt sold in stores has enough of the micronutrient to be considered enough for daily level acquisition.

– Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM


  1. McClure RD. Goiter prophylaxis with iodized salt. Science. 1935 October 18. vol82 no. 2129 pp.370-371 DOI: 10.1126/science.82.2129.370.
  2. Purnendu K. Dasgupta, Yining Liu, Jason V. Dyke. Iodine nutrition: iodine content of iodized salt in the United States. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008 January 9. 42 (4), pp 1315–1323 DOI: 10.1021/es0719071.

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  • Whmis training Toronto

    one of the problems with bromine for example, is that the organ cells with receptors for iodine will also accept bromine, etc. so trying to compensate with additional iodine will not succeed until the receptors are free to accept the iodine. This means reducing our intake of the “poisons” so that the iodine we do get can actually be used.just wondering – If floride and chlorine are iodine killers and sufficient iodine is needed to stave off the possibility of some forms of mental retardation does it not follow that municipal water supplies, if treated with the 2 chemicals mentioned, are harming developing children? I’d be interested in a response…

  • Bill Rummel

    I use a salt substitute alternative “No Salt”, potassium chloride. Am I getting the necessary iodine?

  • JD

    Do people believe this stuff? Sodium chloride = NaCl. Iodine is an element, otherwise known as I. I make my salt at home with sodium metal and chlorine gas, then add a just little bit of iodine crystal. I don’t want my salt fooled around with by some Tibet businessmen on the other side of the world. If you want to be safer you should dissolve your salt in distilled water and carefully re-crystalize it under controlled conditions.

  • Tommie Miller

    I skimmed through the article and cannot find any recommendations for what to use. Something from the health food store? Any names?

    Thank you.

  • tal

    No. You are not getting ANY Iodine unless it is listed on the label.
    Take kelp tablets or add a piece of kelp to all soups, stews and grains/beans that you cook.

  • tal

    Himalayan pink salt has unacceptably high levels of fluoride. Find another source.

  • Snoway

    “Believe it or not, Iodized table salt is created by taking natural salt (or crude oil flake leftovers) and heating it at 1200° Fahrenheit.”

    Ok, not. Heating natural salt will in no way add Iodine, Potassium, or any other chemicals. Why would a company spend money on huge furnaces to bake salt, when *washing* the salt not only works better, it doesn’t require massive (and expensive) energy usage?

    “Shockingly, crude oil extract is one way we produce table salt.”

    The only thing shocking here is how the author passed organic chem.

  • Anna

    What is your proof of this?

  • Gonzo

    @Snoway: Without showing any citations as to why the author is wrong, you are in the same boat as he is.. Not-credible.

  • Gonzo

    @M_aster: Just like everybody else in these comments, you criticize the article without issuing any citations as to WHY it is wrong. Without any citations or references, you are in the same boat as the author — Not-Credible.

  • Lois Anderson

    Fluoride effects every organ of the body. Government dirty secrets- It makes your bones weak. On top of that if you get mercury in your system it will cause brain damage. They younger you are the worse the damage. Hitler was known for using fluoride to control the soldiers.

  • Cyphine

    You may either use Dr. before your name or your degrees after your name but not both together.

  • Ian Da Ous

    affects not effects.

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