Iodine intake in human nutrition: a systematic literature review

  • Ingibjörg Gunnarsdottir
  • Lisbeth Dahl


The present literature review is a part of the NNR5 project with the aim of reviewing and updating the scientific basis of the 4th edition of the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations (NNR) issued in 2004. The main objective of the review is to assess the influence of different intakes of iodine at different life stages (infants, children, adolescents, adults, elderly, and during pregnancy and lactation) in order to estimate the requirement for adequate growth, development, and maintenance of health. The literature search resulted in 1,504 abstracts. Out of those, 168 papers were identified as potentially relevant. Full paper selection resulted in 40 papers that were quality assessed (A, B, or C). The grade of evidence was classified as convincing, probable, suggestive, and no conclusion. We found suggestive evidence for improved maternal iodine status and thyroid function by iodine supplementation during pregnancy. Suggestive evidence was found for the relationship between improved thyroid function (used as an indicator of iodine status) during pregnancy and cognitive function in the offspring up to 18 months of age. Moderately to severely iodinedeficient children will probably benefit from iodine supplementation or improved iodine status in order to improve their cognitive function, while only one study showed improved cognitive function following iodine supplementation in children from a mildly iodine-deficient area (no conclusion). No conclusions can be drawn related to other outcomes included in our review. There are no new data supporting changes in dietary reference values for children or adults. The rationale for increasing the dietary reference values for pregnant and lactating women in the NNR5 needs to be discussed in a broader perspective, taking iodine status of pregnant women in the Nordic countries into account.

Keywords: iodine; nutritional status; nutritional requirements; nutrition policy

(Published: 9 October 2012)

Citation: Food & Nutrition Research 2012. 56: 19731 -



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How to Cite
Gunnarsdottir I, Dahl L. Iodine intake in human nutrition: a systematic literature review. Food & Nutrition Research [Internet]. 9Oct.2012 [cited 16Jul.2018];. Available from:
Nordic Nutrition Recommendations - The NNR5 project

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