Seaweed Could Help Address UK Iodine Deficiency

Dripping sea lettuce

A serious health concern

The lack of iodine in our diets, across the UK and around the world, is now a prominent health issue, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Iodine is typically found in dairy and seafood, but modern diets and dietary choices often mean we are not eating enough.

Since 1993, the WHO has encouraged the fortification of salt with iodine, but some people are concerned that this goes against the message to improve heart health by reducing salt intake.

So a new study, done at the University of Glasgow, looked at the potential for seaweed – the richest source of the nutrient – to be consumed as a food, instead of fortified salt. This could help British women reach their recommended daily iodine intake: 66% of adult women in the UK are iodine deficient.

Seaweed is better than pills

A diet sufficient in iodine supports good thyroid health, which contributes to a normal metabolism, as well as being good for the skin and for physical and cognitive growth in children. Obtaining sufficient amounts of iodine is particularly important for pregnant women as iodine is key for infant brain development during pregnancy.

The tests found that due to the seaweed food matrix, the iodine from seaweed was released at lower levels and over a longer period compared with iodine from salt or supplements. This meant a sustained release of the nutrient over time.

Study participants found the seaweed tasty too, with the majority (67%) positive about its use in food. Dr Emilie Combet, from the School of Medicine, carried out the research. She said,

“The study shows that seaweed offers a way of addressing iodine deficiency in a healthy, palatable way.”

Seaweed quality control is crucial

However, most participants also felt they lacked opportunity to buy and eat seaweed. Dr Combet commented,

"Caution must be exercised – not all seaweeds are the same, with some containing too much iodine, or heavy metals."

That's where Mara can help! We're not just awash with recipe ideas, but we also ensure full traceability from sea to plate.

Mara Seaweed products are carefully selected for their nutrient content and flavour. They are sustainably hand-harvested, at specially chosen locations, in the right seasons to make sure that the full nutritional potential is captured. Our harvests are batch tested for heavy metals and their nutritional content is reported on pack, and in our online shop.

Find out more about Mara Seaweed products and iodine in our case study


The study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.


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