a bowl of sea salt

Over the past decade or two, many people have come to believe that sea salt has significant health benefits over the common table salt that has long been familiar in salt shakers. Sea salt is produced by evaporating sea water, while table salt is mined. (You have heard of salt mines, haven’t you?)

As a result, sea salt contains a variety of minerals in addition to basic sodium chloride. The exact makeup may change depending on the original sea water. The resulting product may be a distinctive color, and some people claim they can taste the difference. Most people can recognize the texture of coarse or flaky sea salt and some prefer it. Salt from the sea usually contains only traces of iodine, however, in comparison to iodized table salt.

What Are You Missing with Sea Salt?

Q. Our family has been using sea salt for several years. We do not have thyroid problems. Should we continue with this salt or go back to iodized salt?

A. Common table salt is often iodized as a public health measure to prevent goiter. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid function and also for healthy brain development in the fetus and young infant. That’s why the World Health Organization recommends that all countries provide iodized salt for their populations as a way of making sure that everyone gets adequate amounts of this crucial mineral.

Although sea salt doesn’t always contain iodine, some brands of sea salt are iodized. If you prefer the texture or taste of sea salt, you might look for the iodized variety.

Iodine in the American Diet:

In the U.S., fortification of any salt with iodine is voluntary rather than mandatory (Nutrients, Nov., 2012). (Consequently, shoppers should read labels when selecting salt.)

Americans get a majority of their iodine from dairy products, seafood and occasionally bread. Some of this iodine is introduced accidentally. For example, iodine-containing compounds are used to clean milking equipment and bread may be made with iodine-containing dough conditioners.

Does this mean that iodized salt is irrelevant? Probably not: Recent studies suggest that between one-fifth and two-fifths of the most vulnerable Americans, pregnant women, are not getting sufficient iodine (Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, online Nov. 3, 2016).

photo credit: Happy Krissy cc cropped

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  1. Cindy M. Black
    Seattle, WA

    I think I read the same article that Joyce did! It said that people are now using sea salt but it doesn’t have iodine…and this could increase fatigue and other health problems. It talked about people who started supplementing with iodine gaining much more energy. This got my attention! I do have more fatigue than I should, despite a fabulous diet, all the right supplements, daily exercise, etc. And I’ve used sea salt for years! So I ran right out and bought some of that liquid iodine. Says to take 3 drops in some water daily, and I’ve been doing so for about a month.

    I really haven’t noticed any change in energy levels, though, and I’m worried to read that iodine supplementation might cause kidney damage! 3 drops per day seems so tiny, though. What to do…? I’ll have to do some more research on this.

  2. paul


    If this is in fact correct, then if the mined salt came from an area where there was not a high level of ground pollution would it not be better than sea salt when the oceans are somewhat polluted with chemicals heavy metals and perhaps more?

  3. PattyPR

    You may want to caution readers to not take iodine other than in their food. I remember reading on a trusted website (Mayo Clinic?) years ago that every time the body is exposed to iodine, whether topically or orally that kidney damage occurs to a greater or lesser degree. I looked just now on Google and studies show significant kidney damage in mice after giving iodine. My mother-in-law insists that she has always taken a little iodine in water as a tonic and her father did the same. She says it “never hurt her”, but she just means that she didn’t fall immediately ill after consuming it, showing an obvious cause and effect. Who knows what damage it has done until she stopped? She used iodine drops like one uses to treat wounds. I do understand that in much smaller amounts ingested in food, it is beneficial and necessary.

  4. B

    Does pollution in the sea water affect the sea salt?

  5. Judith

    I had been diagnosed with hypothryoidism about 10 years ago and put on levothyroxin. It helped a little at first then gradually the overwhelming fatigue came back, with some good days with my normal energy and a lot of bad days where I did not want to do anything, finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning even after 7 or 8 hours of good sleep. I did find that if I “worked thru” the fatigue it would eventually abate a little but that was not an easy thing to do. To make a long story short, I happened to read an article on how a low iodine level affects the thyroid. It recommended taking an iodine supplement for most people due to the loss of iodine-containing foods and iodine-blocking chemicals . It suggested buying the liquid iodine (the type used for cuts, scrapes, etc. Do not use the decolorized iodined ) and spreading it on a 2 inch area under the forearm. If it vanished within 8 hours, one’s body was desperately low on iodine. On my arm, the iodine-covered area cleared in about 15 minutes, it was fascinating to watch it. I bought an iodine supplement containing 3 forms of iodine and started taking it. In 2 days my energy was back to levels it had not been in years. Now, as I understand it, one does have to be very careful with the amount of iodine taken as it can be harmful to the kidneys. And anyone who has kidney damage/problems should not take iodine without consulting their doctor. I have not yet gone for my annual physical but am looking forward to it to see what my TSH level is. Before anyone takes an iodine supplement, I would recommend doing some research on iodine levels and how it impacts one’s thyroid.

  6. Joyce

    A number of years ago, my husband(who was the family shopper) switched from buying iodized salt to plain table salt. This was before sea salt became popular. Three members of our family eventually developed thyroid problems: hyperactivity, treatment with radioactive iodine resulting in hypothyroidism. Could the switch from iodized salt have triggered the thyroid problems?

  7. Sylvia
    Sarasota, FL

    How true is it that Himalayan salt contains more iodine than sea salt?

  8. janet

    I’m curious, about people who’ve had a Goiter & use sea salt without added iodine but take a thyroid supplement…is that safe or should they change to using regular table salt?

  9. Sam

    Some of us believe that iodized salt has caused an EXCESS of iodine in the diet, resulting in Hashimoto’s and other thyroid problems.

  10. Betty

    I simply buy iodized sea salt. How simple.

  11. sheila

    I buy iodized sea salt. Hains. Some health food stores carry iodized salt.

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