Vegans Should Check Their Iodine Levels

Vegans Should Check Their Iodine Levels

Key points:

  • Vegans are at high risk of developing a deficiency of two essential nutrients: vitamin B12 and iodine.
  • Vegans are often unaware of their low iodine.
  • It can be prevented by taking supplements.

A recent study from German researchers reports that vegans are at risk of having iodine-deficiency. While those who exclude all animal-based products from their diet are usually aware they need to take vitamin B12 supplements, they often don’t know about the low iodine level they might have. 

The Importance of Vitamin B12

There are two ways people can get vitamin B12 from:

  • animal-based foods like meat, fish, eggs, clams, dairy;
  • supplements.

Our bodies need vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells, form nerves and maintain proper brain function.

Why Iodine Is Essential for the Body

Iodine is present in eggs, fish, dairy products, even seaweed can be incorporated into a vegan diet. 

Proper iodine level is essential for generating thyroid hormones. Plus, iodine is crucial for cognitive development; that’s why pregnant women and young children are advised to consume enough iodine. 

Study Findings

Researchers recruited 72 people from Berlin, aged 30-57. Half of them were vegan, and the other half were omnivores (those who eat animal and plant foods). For three days straight, participants’ nutrient intake, blood, and urine samples were tracked and measured. 

While the vegan diet showed several health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels and higher fiber intake, only 8% of vegans had adequate iodine levels, compared to 25% in the omnivore group.

Authors hope their findings, which support results from previous studies, will help guide vegans and vegetarians toward consuming iodine more, in addition to vitamin B12 supplementation.


Veganism: Vitamin B12 is well supplemented; iodine is a matter of concern

Vegan diets raise concerns for iodine deficiency