Low Iodine Diet (LID)

An important way to maximize absorption of radioactive iodine (RAI) is by reducing the dietary intake of iodine prior to the use of RAI. This preparation can be achieved through a Low Iodine Diet (LID). 

The LID is a special diet used by patients who are going to be treated and/or scanned with radioactive iodine (RAI).  Unfortunately there is a lot of variation and misinformation in prescribed LIDs from place to place in Canada and elsewhere.  As well, what may apply in some countries does not necessarily apply to Canadians due to differences in our food supply and packaging regulations.

About our Low Iodine Diet

Thyroid Cancer Canada’s Low Iodine Diet  includes: basic LID information, the diet, a shopping list and menu samples.

Our diet has been has been officially endorsed by the Canadian Association of Nuclear Medicine, and is approved by the "Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition" project of the Dietitians of Canada.



Quick LID Facts

  • The LID is a low iodine diet, usually interpreted as below 50mcg of iodine per day. Iodine is naturally occurring in many foods and added to table salt in Canada.
  • Foods that are most highly laden with iodine and should be avoided are:  table salt, dairy products, egg yolks and sea foods of all types. Soy is also restricted due to its interference with RAI uptake.
  • The LID is normally prescribed for two weeks before the RAI treatment.  The days closest to the RAI treatment are the most important ones in terms of restricting one’s diet.  As the LID is not a nutritionally rounded diet, TCC does not recommend patients be on it more than 2 weeks pre-RAI. A recent study indicates no benefit to being on LID more than 2 weeks. 
  • Patients with good general health and normal metabolisms are advised to stay on the LID 48 hours after RAI treatment to ensure that natural iodine does not interfere with the treatment iodine.  Note that in most cases, patients in hospital isolation are not provided with LID meals. It is advisable for patients to bring some LID-safe foods with them if they will have a period of hospital isolation.

Low Iodine Diet Resources

Studies Regarding the Low Iodine Diet

Lee et al: Low Iodine Diet for One Week Is Sufficient for Adequate Preparation of High Dose Radioactive Iodine Ablation Therapy of Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Patients in Iodine-Rich Areas, THYROID, Volume 24, Number 8, 2014 link

Morsch et al: Two Weeks of a Low-Iodine Diet Are Equivalent to 3 Weeks for Lowering Urinary Iodine and Increasing Thyroid Radioactive Iodine Uptake, THYROID, Volume 21, Number 1, 2011 link

Sawka et al: Dietary Iodine Restriction in Preparation for Radioactive Iodine Treatment or Scanning in Well-Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: A Systematic Review, Thyroid. 2010 October; 20(10): 1129–1138. Systematic Review of literature regarding LID link

Pluijmen et al: Effects of low-iodide diet on postsurgical radioiodide ablation therapy in patients with differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Clinical Endocrinology, Volume 58, Issue 4, pages 428–435, April 2003



Lisa Galvez RD, of Nova Scotia Health Authority and the dietitians at Sobeys in Halifax, are working together to co-facilitate a clinical nutrition talks on the LID, a review of LID friendly recipes with samples and then a hands on grocery store tour with label reading of LID friendly and not friendly products. What a wonderful way to learn about the LID!

Location: Sobeys, Halifax
Address:  2651 Windsor St, 2nd Floor
Contact: Lisa Galvez



The group hopes to repeat the learning experience about every 3 months, so contact them if your RAI treatment or scan is scheduled.

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