Iodine Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Iodine is an important mineral that your body needs to stay healthy. This lesson will teach you about how your body uses iodine, what foods have iodine in them, and some other interesting uses for this mineral.

What is Iodine?

Imagine riding your bike on a sunny day, going as fast as you can pedal. The wind is in your face and you feel like you're flying. Nothing can stop you! But just as you turn the corner, your tire hits a big rock and you tumble to the ground, skinning your knee. You limp home and your mom cleans your knee up with a clear antiseptic wash before putting a bandage on it and sending you back outside. But if you had been a kid back when your grandparents were young, you probably would have had a brownish-orange liquid with iodine in it put on your knee to help it heal.

Iodine is a mineral that the thyroid, which is a gland in your body, needs in order to make chemicals that help your body work correctly. Minerals are natural substances found in the ground and in the ocean water on Earth that your body needs to stay healthy.

Your thyroid (pronounced THIGH-royd) is a gland, or kind of organ, found at the front of your neck, and it has an important job. Iodine helps the thyroid make chemicals that control things like body weight, brain and bone growth in babies, breathing, body temperature, heart rate, strength of your muscles, energy production and the network of nerves that control your body.

Thyroid gland at the front of the neck
Thyroid gland at the front of the neck

How Do You Get Iodine?

Many of the foods you eat have iodine in them, and you probably didn't even know it because you don't see it. Foods that have iodine include:

  • Fish like tuna or cod, and even fish sticks
  • Shrimp
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Apple juice
  • Bananas
  • Ice cream
  • Green peas
  • Lima beans
  • Fruit cocktail in heavy syrup
  • Cream style corn
  • White bread
  • Eggs
  • Spinach
  • Summer squash

Iodized salt with iodine added
Iodized salt with iodine added

And if you look in the pantry, you might even find something called iodized salt, which your parents probably use when they cook. Iodized means that iodine has been added to the salt, although too much salt isn't healthy for your body, even if it has iodine in it.

Most people get enough iodine from the foods they eat and don't have to worry about getting it from other sources.

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