How is iodized salt made

The iodine supply is falling again in Germany

For whom are dietary supplements with iodine possibly useful?

The iodine supply in Germany has continuously improved since the mid-1980s due to the use of iodized salt in private households, in the food industry, in handicrafts and in some cases in gastronomy. In addition, the farm animals get the trace element that is essential for them through iodized feed. As a result, the iodine content has increased, especially in milk and dairy products. Iodized salt or iodination is allowed in organic food and feed, but is used less often.

However, the data show that the population's iodine supply is still not optimal or even shows a downward trend. Studies have shown that children, adolescents and adults are in the lower optimal range. The iodine supply is assessed according to the level of iodine excretion in the urine, which would be optimal: 100 - 199 µg / l.

The mean iodine excretion in children and adolescents is 88.8 µg per liter urine. One speaks here of a mild deficiency. Since it is an average, this means; that some children and adolescents are optimally cared for, while others have serious deficiencies The reason for this could be that the use of iodized salt instead of table salt in industrially produced foods (e.g. ready meals, ready-made sauces, seasoning mixes) and in out-of-home catering is clearly declining.

A increased risk of an undersupply of iodine have people who avoid animal foods such as meat, fish, milk and eggs. This includes vegetarians, vegans and people who have to avoid fish or dairy products because of a cow's milk or fish allergy or lactose intolerance. Even with a very low (iodine) salt diet, the recommended intake may not be reached. In consultation with your doctor, you should consider adding iodine in the form of a dietary supplement in such a case.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women have one increased iodine requirement, Here too, it is usually sensible to take iodine-containing food supplements. Currently, both groups of people in Germany are recommended 100-150 µg iodine per day in the form of a food supplement in addition to a diet with foods rich in iodine and iodized salt. However, this should be discussed with the doctor (gynecologist) beforehand in order to prevent possible multiple ingestion.

What does the body need iodine for?

Iodine is needed to build up thyroid hormones. These hormones control the energy metabolism, the heart rhythm and blood pressure. They are also involved in processes such as bone formation, normal growth, and brain development.

An adequate iodine supply and thus normal thyroid function are essential for an adult's quality of life. A deficiency manifests itself through a low tolerance to cold, dry skin, hair loss, weight gain, depressive mood, as well as learning and concentration difficulties.

If there is a severe deficiency, too few hormones are produced. The thyroid gland enlarges, the so-called goiter, with possibly hot or cold lumps (malignant changes).

Too low an iodine supply during pregnancy, breastfeeding and infancy can lead to lifelong developmental and functional disorders.

The recommended daily intake from all sources in Germany is 200 µg per day for adolescents and adults up to 50 years of age, and 180 µg for those aged 51 and over. In Switzerland, the lower recommended dose of the WHO of 150 µg applies as a result of the iodized salt program that has been used successfully for decades.

Can I cover my daily requirement with food?

The iodine content of plant and animal foods varies from region to region; it fluctuates according to the iodine content of the soil. Mountain regions have particularly little. Due to the iodine content of the oceans, sea fish and other marine animals or plants such as mussels and algae are naturally rich in iodine. In addition to iodized table salt, animal foods such as milk and dairy products, meat and eggs are an important source of iodine today. The iodine content, which is higher than in the past, results from feeding the farm animals with iodized feed.

Iodized table salt is not only available for private households. It can (and should) also be used in artisanal or industrially produced foods (e.g. bread, sausage, cheese, ready meals, ready-made sauces, seasoning mixes). Unfortunately, this is only the case with around 30% of products containing salt. The only thing that will help you here is a look at the list of ingredients for these processed products and specific inquiries at the sales counter about loose goods.

The amount of potassium or sodium iodate in iodized salt or nitrite curing salt is limited by law to 15 to 25 mg / kg table salt. When shopping for herbal salts, you should also make sure that the list of ingredients says "iodized table salt". The salt specialties that have come into fashion, such as Himalayan, sea, Hawaiian salt and fleur de sel contribute negligibly to the iodine supply and should therefore only be used rarely.


An adequate iodine supply is possible if you pay attention to the consumption of foods containing iodine.

  • Consume milk and milk products daily.
  • Eat sea fish once or twice a week.
  • Use iodized salt in the household.
  • Preferably buy foods made with iodized salt.
  • The list of ingredients should say "iodized salt" or "iodized table salt" and not just "salt".
  • Also ask about the use of iodized salt in the school canteen, canteen and other communal catering facilities.
  • Use iodine supplements only after consulting your doctor.

You can find more information in the questions and answers on iodine supply and iodine deficiency prevention from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.