Iodine intake and excretion vary widely; however, these variations remain a large source of geometric uncertainty. The present study aims to analyse variations in iodine intake and excretion and provide implications for sampling in studies of individuals or populations. Twenty-four healthy women volunteers were recruited for a 12-d sampling period during the 4-week experiment. The duplicate-portion technique was used to measure iodine intake, while 24-h urine was collected to estimate iodine excretion. The mean intra-individual variations in iodine intake, 24-h UIE (24-h urinary iodine excretion) and 24-h UIC (24-h urinary iodine concentration) were 63, 48 and 55 %, respectively, while the inter-individual variations for these parameters were 14, 24 and 32 %, respectively. For 95 % confidence, approximately 500 diet samples or 24-h urine samples should be taken from an individual to estimate their iodine intake or iodine status at a precision range of ±5%. Obtaining a precision range of ±5% in a population would require twenty-five diet samples or 150 24-h urine samples. The intra-individual variations in iodine intake and excretion were higher than the inter-individual variations, which indicates the need for more samples in a study on individual participants.