Fact Sheet: Dulse Flakes and Iodine

People living near the oceans have always counted on its bounty for their existence. The first thing that comes to mind is seafood, but you can’t forget about the amazing seaweeds. You may have heard of nori (wrapped around your sushi rolls), but would you believe there are at least 20 other types of edible seaweed? I am going to focus on one called “dulse”, and the important role it plays in our diet.

Meet dulse flakes…

Dulse Seaweed Flakes from Mountain Rose Herbs

Pronounced like “pulse”,  dulse is a red seaweed harvested in the cool waters along Atlantic coast of Canada and also along the shores of Ireland and Norway. Its fronds grow in tidal areas on rocks, shells, and the larger, longer, brown seaweeds.  [a]

Constituents of Dulse Flakes

Dulse flakes are extremely nutrient-rich. They contain:  alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, calcium, chromium, cobalt, iodine, iron, lutein, manganese, magnesium, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, silicon, sodium, tin, vitamin C, zeaxanthin, and zinc. [b]

As a seawood, dulse flakes are very rich in iodine, easily meeting your daily requirements in as little as 1 gram. [c] One gram of dulse flakes contains 150-300 micrograms of iodine. [d]

Why do I need iodine?

Iodine is a chemical element. The body needs iodine but cannot make it. The needed iodine must come from the diet. As a rule, there is very little iodine in food, unless it has been added during processing, which is now the case with salt. Most of the world’s iodine is found in the ocean, where it is concentrated by sea life, especially seaweed.ck systems in the body cause the thyroid to work harder.[e]

The thyroid gland needs iodine to make hormones. If the thyroid doesn’t have enough iodine to do its job, feedback systems in the body cause the thyroid to work harder.

Other consequences of not having enough iodine (iodine deficiency) are also serious. Iodine deficiency and the resulting low levels of thyroid hormone can cause women to stop ovulating, leading to infertility. Iodine deficiency can also lead to an autoimmune disease of the thyroid and may increase the risk of getting thyroid cancer.

How much iodine do I need?

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iodine [2] 
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 110 mcg* 110 mcg*
7-12 months 130 mcg* 130 mcg*
1-3 years 90 mcg 90 mcg
4-8 years 90 mcg 90 mcg
9-13 years 120 mcg 120 mcg
14-18 years 150 mcg 150 mcg 220 mcg 290 mcg
19+ years 150 mcg 150 mcg 220 mcg 290 mcg

Adequate Intake (AI)[f]

Safety information about iodine intake

Iodine is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth at recommended amounts. However, in sensitive people, iodine can cause side effects including swelling of the lips and face (angioedema), severe bleeding and bruising, fever, joint pain, lymph node enlargement, allergic reactions including hives, and death.

Large amounts or long-term use are POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Adults should avoid prolonged use of doses higher than 1100 mcg per day (the upper tolerable limit, UL) without proper medical supervision. In children, doses should not exceed 200 mcg per day for children 1 to 3 years old, 300 mcg per day for children 4 to 8 years old, 600 mcg per day for children 9 to 13 years old, and 900 mcg per day for adolescents. These are the upper tolerable limits (UL).

It is important to note that sea vegetables vary greatly in their iodine content, depending on the circumstances in which they grow. [g]

 One gram of dulse flakes contains 150-300 micrograms, approximately your adequate daily requirement. To make this easier for you to calculate, that is the same weight as a typical paper clip. [h]

How do I eat dulse flakes?

The flakes have a salty taste that is delicious on salads, over vegetables, in stews, or mixed into your smoothie. Your Spice of Life provides dulse flakes by themselves and also mixed into sea salt in a grinder. One reason I decided to offer dulse is that so many people are switching from table salt to sea salt, and missing the supplement of iodine that they used to get from the table salt.

Can I get iodine from other sources?

Yes, but seaweeds (including dulse) are the richest source. [i]  A partial list is below; check out this list for lots more.

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Iodine [10,11,12]
Food ApproximateMicrograms (mcg)per serving Percent DV*
Seaweed, whole or sheet, 1 g 16 to 2,984 11% to 1,989%
Cod, baked, 3 ounces 99 66%
Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup 75 50%
Iodized salt, 1.5 g (approx. 1/4 teaspoon) 71 47%
Milk, reduced fat, 1 cup 56 37%


For educational purposes only.  This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Dulse with sample

Dulse Flakes in glass jar — $7.00 + shipping

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Coarse Sea Salt with Dulse Flakes, in refillable glass grinder -- $10.00 + shipping

Coarse Sea Salt with Dulse Flakes, in refillable glass grinder — $10.00 + shipping

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I’ve compiled this informational sheet from the following references and information sources that I believe to be accurate:

[a] http://www.MountainRoseHerbs.com, info page on Dulse flakes


Posted on April 2, 2011, in Fact Sheet, Product available for purchase and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. inspiredhealthcoach

    I’ve never tried dulse flakes, but they certainly sound like a perfect iodine supplement. The seaweed salad at our local Japanese restaurant Akanomi, is delicious and full of healthy nutrients like iodine. Eggs and strawberries also supply iodine. Another good article, Laura.

  2. How much those 1 gram of dulse flakes look like? Worried that I am springing too much!

  3. I’m allergic to shellfish but I have a detox recipe that calls for Atlantic dulse flakes, is it safe to use or is there a substitute you know if that is safe for someone with a shellfish allergy? Thank you for your advice.

    • Hi Jullee! There are no substitutes that have the wonderful quantity of iodine that seaweed has… it is a powerhouse. However, if you are allergic to shellfish it is more than possible that seaweed will affect you, so I would not take the risk. Some other foods that have high iodine levels are cod, sardines, shrimp and salmon. Also, yogurt and milk. Good luck! Laura

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