Iodine and Hair Loss: What's the Connection?

Reviewed by Mary Lucas, MSCIS, MPhil, RN

Written by Our Editorial Team

Updated 04/11/2021

Can taking doses of iodine give you healthy hair? Can it make you go bald? Will iodine supplements and some iodine-rich foods give you the hair you want, or no hair at all? Are there any benefits of iodine that are backed by science?

The relationship between iodine and hair loss is a complex one, with a lot of complicated mechanisms making your hair’s health distantly related to your iodine levels. 

Let’s start with what we know: a little less or a little more than your recommended intake of iodine is going to have little or no short-term impact on your hair health. 

But as excess or insufficient iodine becomes a problem, there can be some bigger concerns to deal with, that might eventually include your hair. 

To understand the complicated relationship between the iodine in table salt and hair growth, you need to understand what iodine actually does to your hair.

Why Your Body Needs Iodine

Iodine is a trace element naturally found in your body, and it has important roles in your normal function. 

Iodine is needed for normal cellular function — your cells use iodine in the process of changing food into energy, and your thyroid needs a regular supply of iodine for normal function. 

You can consume iodine from medications, but iodine intake can also come from iodine-rich foods, where you can meet your daily allowance of iodine. 

You can get the necessary iodine per day from some dairy products, iodized salt and certain fish (think cod, sea bass, haddock and perch), as well as kelp and land-dwelling plants grown in iodine-rich soil. 

According to the Food and Nutrition Board, adults can have approximately 150 micrograms per day, and lactating or pregnant women can go as high as 290 micrograms safely.

There are many trace elements in your body that are required for your body to function normally — selenium is another one that you’ll frequently hear about. In small doses, it’s integral to healthy function. 

A deficiency in a trace element, however, comes with consequences. 

Why Iodine Deficiency Is Bad For You

What you definitely don’t want is an iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency can lead to enlarged thyroid cells and an enlarged thyroid gland (also known as a goiter) or hypothyroidism (medical conditions where the thyroid is unable to make enough thyroid hormone). 

These conditions are more common in women than in men. For children, insufficient iodine intake may result in a condition called cretinism, which is a now-rare genetic abnormality that affects physical and mental capacity.

Iodine poisoning is extremely rare, according to the National Library of Medicine, but an excess of iodine can cause hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism under certain circumstances.

The Relationship Between Iodine And Hair Loss

The relationship between hair loss and iodine actually has little to do with iodine deficiency, but excess iodine in fact may have a tertiary association with causing hair loss. 

The connection between the two? Your thyroid gland.

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid may become overactive, essentially producing too many thyroid hormones and causing all sorts of problems in the process. 

In the most extreme, untreated versions of thyroid dysfunction, the condition can eventually start to cause irreparable damage to the hair structure.

So, where does iodine come into this? Well, excessive iodine can be one of the main causes of hyperthyroidism. 

In fact, excess iodine from food sources or medications is one of the most common causes of hyperthyroidism after genetics, age and gender.

Hims has helped thousands of men regrow their hair

Ryan, 29

Verified review

Cost effective and affordable. My hair keeps growing thicker, fuller, and at a fast rate.

Bryan, 28

Verified review

Now after 5 months I’m able to style waves first time in 10 years!  

Milton, 36

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Tony, 32

Verified review

After 7 months, I have experienced incredible results and my hair is back.

Parbhu, 28

Verified review

In just as little over two and half months, I can really see the difference in thickness and in color.

Michael, 33

Verified review

It has helped boost my confidence as well as give me a full head of hair to play with. I am so pleased.

Jesse, 36

Verified review

I decided to jump right in and I'm so glad I did. I definitely feel ten years younger!

Giovanny, 23

Verified review

4-months strong and my confidence boosted back up to 100% using Hims, future me really does thank me.

Alexander, 32

Verified review

Hims allowed me to walk down the aisle confident and looking great.

Brian, 48

Verified review

I tried several different options before but Hims combined approach of all four methods by far created the best results.

Al, 54

Verified review

The results speak for themselves and I recommend it to all of my friends.

Seth, 27

Verified review

I notice a huge change in the overall health and fullness of my hairline.

Mike, 34

Verified review

Hims has been the greatest confidence boost, no more bald jokes! I look and feel so much younger.

Before/after images shared by customers who have purchased varying products. These customers’ results have not been independently verified. Individual results will vary. Customers were given free product.

Iodine for Hair Growth: Should You Be Taking Supplements?

The short answer to this is no — taking iodine supplements will have little to no effect on your hair growth. 

There’s no medical indication to support this as a benefit, and as we mentioned above, excess iodine could cause much bigger problems in the long run.

The relationship between your thyroid to your hair growth aside, iodine supplements aren’t going to fix anything. 

In fact, it could be argued that taking iodine to reduce hair loss is the equivalent of monitoring your salt intake while stranded aboard a lifeboat in the ocean: it’s irrelevant to your current problem. 

The only case in which you should consider iodine supplements for hair loss would be if you happen to be losing hair due to a thyroid issue, and your healthcare provider happens to think that iodine supplements may somehow mitigate symptoms of that ongoing thyroid issue. 

But at that point, you’re treating a thyroid problem — not a hair loss problem. 

Shop by treatment options

No matter the treatment plan, the best place to start is somewhere. Early action is the best hair loss prevention.

No-pill option

Topical Finasteride & Minoxidil Spray

From £20.80/month

2-in-1 topical spray applied once daily helps regrow hair & prevent further hair loss.

Important Safety Information

No-pill option

Topical Finasteride & Minoxidil Serum

From £20.80/month

Combines two clinically-proven ingredients into one easy-to-use solution applied once daily.

Important Safety Information

Finasteride & Minoxidil Combo Kit

From £22.50/month

Clinically proven duo. Twice daily topical solution and once daily tablet help stop hair loss & regrow hair.

Important Safety Information

Finasteride

From £11.96/month

Daily tablet helps stop receding hairlines & thinning.

Important Safety Information

Alcohol-free Minoxidil Serum

From £15.75/month

Alcohol-free topical solution applied twice daily helps treat thinning hair & balding on the scalp.

Important Safety Information

TL;DR: Iodine and Hair Loss

Iodine is not going to be your supplement aisle solution to hair loss any more than vitamin C is going to cure autoimmune diseases, and therefore they should be treated the same way. 

You don’t need iodine (if anything, you may need less). 

If you’re noticing more hairs on your pillow or at the bottom of the shower every morning, what you should do is contact your healthcare provider. 

The first step to keeping the hair you have left or even re-growing some of what you’ve lost starts with them. 

There are FDA-approved hair loss products and treatments you should consider.

Finasteride, for instance, is a medication shown in research to block the hair loss-causing hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Studies have repeatedly shown that daily finasteride use can drop your DHT levels by about 70 percent

The other primary hair care option we recommend is FDA-approved minoxidil, which can increase hair growth and does not require a prescription. 

Oh, and you won’t need a prescription either for hair health vitamins — our Essential Vitamins for a Healthy Head of Hair guide is a great resource for understanding what vitamins benefit your follicle health. 

We have other resources available, like our What to Look For in a Men’s Hair Loss Shampoo guide 

One final parting word: there’s a chance you’re reading about iodine because you’re looking for fringe, easy hair health solutions — and we get that. 

It can often feel easier to go to the internet than to reach out to a healthcare professional. Do us and yourself a favor? Do it anyway. 

Treatment may just be one consultation with a medical professional away — the sooner you take that step, the sooner your hair loss fears will be explained and addressed. And it probably won’t even require you to up your kelp consumption.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.

Hair loss treatment for a long term solution

Clinically approved options available

90-day money back guarantee

Thousands of happy customers

Get started