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The Low Iodine Diet

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Updated June 02, 2014

Woman shopping for organic fruit.
Betsie Van Der Meer/Taxi/Getty Images
Thanks to Dr. Kenneth B. Ain of the University of Kentucky Medical Center, for the following information on a low-iodine diet, which may be prescribed to you in conjunction with radioactive iodine testing and treatment.

PLEASE BE ADVISED
THE FOLLOWING IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED, NOR SHOULD IT BE CONSTRUED, AS SPECIFIC MEDICAL ADVICE OR DIRECTIONS. ANY PERSONS VIEWING THIS INFORMATION ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT THEIR OWN PHYSICIAN(S) ABOUT ANY MATTER REGARDING THEIR MEDICAL CARE.

General Information About the Low-Iodine Diet

  1. LOW IODINE has NOTHING TO DO WITH SODIUM. Sodium in any form is OK, as long as it is not provided as IODIZED salt. NON-IODIZED salt is OK for the diet.

  2. NO MILK or MILK PRODUCTS are permissable because milk is an INTRINSIC site for the biological concentration of iodine. In addition, commercial milking machines are often cleansed with iodine solutions, as are containers & cows' teats.

  3. Most commercial vitamin preparations have IODINE ADDED as an essential nutrient. The only preparation which I have found to be fine for the diet is Vicon Forte=AE.

  4. The problem with food colors is specific to Red dye FD&C #3 (erythrosine) ONLY. FD&C Red #40 is OK. The problem is that most food labels do not specify which red dyes are used & better safe than sorry. For medications, the best source is the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR), which clearly states the ingredients. For example, Rocaltrol in the 0.5 microgram size is NOT good for the diet because it contains FD&C Red #3; however the 0.25 microgram size does not contain that dye & is safe for the diet (you can combine two of them to get to the 0.5 microgram dose). Please always check with your physician.

The Low-Iodine Diet

Avoid the following foods, starting when instructed prior to your radioactive iodine test, and continue until after your radioactive iodine treatment is completed.

  1. Iodized salt, sea salt (Non-iodized salt may be used).
  2. Dairy products (milk, cheese, cream, yogurt, butter, ice cream)
  3. Eggs
  4. Seafood (fish, shellfish, seaweed, kelp)
  5. Foods that contain the additives: carragen, agar-agar, algin, algin= ates
  6. Cured and corned foods (ham, lox, corned beef, sauerkraut)
  7. Bread products that contain iodate dough conditioners (usually small bakery breads are safe; it's best to bake it yourself or substitute with Matzos)
  8. Foods and medications that contain red food dyes (consult your doctor before discontinuing any red-colored medicines). The specific bad red dye is Red Dye #3 (erythrosine). The problem is that most ingredient lists do not tell you which red dye is used.
  9. Chocolate (for its milk content)
  10. Molasses
  11. Soy products (soy sauce, soy milk, tofu)

Additional Guidelines

  1. Avoid restaurant foods since there is no reasonable way to determine which restaurants use iodized salt.
  2. Non-iodized salt may be used as desired.

Important Note

Food prepared from any fresh meats, fresh poultry, fresh or frozen vegetables, and fresh fruits should be fine for this diet, provided that you do not add any of the ingredients listed above to avoid.

Source:

Dr. Kenneth B. Ain, M.D.
Associate Professor of Internal Medicine
Director, Thyroid Nodule & Oncology Clinical Service
Division of Endocrinology and Molecular Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine, Room MN520
University of Kentucky Medical Center
800 Rose Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40536-0084

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