Iodine in plant-based dairy products is not sufficient in the UK: a market survey

Ali Alzahrani, Rainer Ebel, Gareth Norton, Andrea Raab, Joerg Feldmann* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Following a well-balanced diet ensures that a person gets all the essential elements for health sustenance. However, in the United Kingdom an increasing proportion of people are transiting to become vegans who exclude animal-based products in their diets. Consequently, people may have a deficit of essential elements such as iodine which is not present in most plant-based meals, additionally iodide fortified table salt is not commonly used in the UK. Without iodine people consuming a vegan diet risk developing iodine deficiency and diseases like goiter.
Methods: The objective of this study is to determine the difference in iodine content and iodine speciation between plant-based and dairy products. More than 100 market samples of plant-based and dairy milk products were collected in Scotland, UK.
Results: Iodine concentrations in dairy milk is ten times higher compared to plant-based milks. Similar differences were also apparent for butter, yogurt and cheese. A total of 20% of plant-based milk products were fortified with iodine, however these products had lower iodine concentrations compare to the equivalent dairy products. In this study we calculated that people with average diet have an iodine intake of 226 +/- 103μg day-1 from dairy products which satisfies the WHO recommended intake of adults and 90% of the recommend intake for pregnant and breast-feeding women. A diet from substituted dairy products gives only 21.8µg day-1 for the respective WHO guideline intake values, which accounts only 15% of the iodine intake for adults and 9% for pregnant and lactating women. Iodine fortified diet could increase the iodine intake to 55% or 33% of the WHO recommended daily intake respectively.
Conclusion: Plant-based dairy consumers are encouraged to use iodine fortified dairy products or use of iodized salt in the UK for home cooking, otherwise there are at risk to get iodine deficient.
Original languageEnglish
Article number127218
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology
Early online date25 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 May 2023

Bibliographical note

A.A. thanks the Saudi Arabia Cultural Bureau and Ministry of Education for financial support.
No AI was used in the writing process and in the final manuscript. One artistic image was generated using AI technology as part of the graphical abstract.


  • Vegan
  • iodine
  • plant-based milk
  • dairy milk
  • fortified food


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