Vegans, Vegetarians and Pescatarians Are at Risk of Iodine Deficiency in Norway

Nutrients. 2020 Nov 20;12(11):3555. doi: 10.3390/nu12113555.


Low iodine intakes have been documented in different population groups in Norway. We aimed to assess iodine status, dietary intake, supplement and macroalgae use, and iodine knowledge in vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians. In this study, 115 vegans, 55 vegetarians and 35 pescatarians from the Oslo region of Norway, aged 18-60 years, participated. A spot urine sample was collected along with a dietary assessment of iodine intake, supplement and macroalgae use. The median urinary iodine concentration (MUIC) in vegans was 43 µg/L (moderate iodine deficiency), in vegetarians 67 µg/L and in pescatarians 96 µg/L (mild iodine deficiency). In multiple linear regression analysis, use of iodine supplements was one of the strongest predictors of UIC. About half of the participants had median 24-h iodine intakes below estimated average requirement (EAR) of 100 µg/day. Fifty percent had low knowledge score, while 27% had very low knowledge score. Vegans, vegetarians and possibly pescatarians in Norway, are unable to reach the recommended iodine intake merely from food and are dependent on iodine supplements. There is an urgent need for dietary guidance targeting vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians to avoid inadequate iodine intake in non-supplement users, as well as avoiding excess iodine intake in macroalgae users.

Keywords: iodine intake; iodine knowledge; micronutrients; pescatarians; plant-based diet; supplementation; urinary iodine concentration; vegans; vegetarians.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diet, Vegan / adverse effects*
  • Diet, Vegetarian / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iodine / administration & dosage
  • Iodine / deficiency*
  • Iodine / urine
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Nutritional Status
  • Seaweed
  • Vegans
  • Vegetarians
  • Young Adult


  • Iodine