Preventing iodine deficiencies

Iodine is a natural substance that is essential for good health. In accordance with the Federal Office of Public Health, one out of every seven women suffers from an iodine deficiency. But which foods contain iodine and how can a deficiency be prevented?
Iodine is an important trace element that plays an essential role, especially for basic bodily functions and the development of the brain. The body, however, is unable to produce iodine by itself. Taking in enough iodine-rich foods is therefore essential in order to remain healthy. On the other hand, people require different amounts of iodine depending on their age, growth and development, as well as on their energy consumption. The Swiss Nutrition Association recommends that adults take in between 180 and 200 micrograms of iodine a day.

What foods contain iodine?

The best source of iodine is saltwater fish, algae, and crustaceans. But only very few Swiss people eat fish twice a week, and iodised table salt has therefore been available since the 1920s. Milk and milk products, as well as eggs, also contain iodine. Meat and poultry, on the other hand, have only modest amounts of it. In Switzerland, popular foods such as bread, milk and cheese provide the lion's share of iodine, besides iodised salt.

A deficiency can cause serious health problems

Anyone who takes in too little iodine over long periods runs the risk of getting sick. Especially in the case of small children, an iodine deficiency can impair physical and mental development. But adults, too, may find themselves with impaired health if they fail to get enough of iodine. Possible symptoms include developing an enlarged thyroid gland in the form of a goitre, facing strongly impaired mental capacities, becoming deaf and dumb or having stunted growth.

Tips for getting enough iodine:

  • Be sure to take in three daily portions of milk and milk products as well as bread with iodised salt.
  • Use iodised salt to add flavour to your food.
  • Eat seafood such as salmon, cod or crustaceans once or twice a week. As little as 100 g of salmon will cover your daily requirement of 180-200 μg.
  • We recommend that pregnant women and nursing mothers contact their doctor to find ways to cover their increased iodine requirements with food supplements.


In the event of further health-related questions, SWICA customers can contact the santé24 telemedicine service free of charge on +41 44 404 86 86. A telemedicine practice licence allows santé24 physicians to provide additional medical services in cases that are suited to a telemedicine approach. SWICA customers can also use the BENECURA medical app to carry out a digital SymptomCheck and receive recommendations about what to do next. During a subsequent phone call with santé24, customers can decide for themselves whether to release their information from SymptomCheck to santé24.