Iodine is a trace element that is required by the body and is found in many sources. Since the body cannot make iodine, we must ingest it via our food or supplements.
Mostly found in seawater, iodine can also be found in some fish, shellfish, grains, seaweed, and some dairy products. You may also find a form of iodine in your pantry at home as iodized salt.
Why is it Important for Our Body
The importance of iodine cannot be overstated. The body requires iodine for many different functions. It plays a role in brain development in preventing a form of mental retardation known as iodine deficiency-related retardation.
But probably its most important function is working with your thyroid. Your thyroid is nearly as important as your brain when it comes to your body’s functions. Your thyroid helps regulate the hormones that are not only needed for metabolic function, but also for the brain, muscle, and bone development.
Unfortunately, if you don’t get enough iodine into your body, this can lead to iodine deficiency which can significantly affect your thyroid. Iron deficiency will lead to the lack of production of the thyroid hormones, Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which controls heart rate, blood pressure, metabolic rate, temperature, digestion, and body weight.
Iodine Deficiency is on the rise. This is likely due to a variety of reasons including changes in farming techniques and a driven fear that “too much” iodine can be harmful.
Iodine Deficiency can lead to:
- Dysfunction of the thyroid gland
- Development of goiter and nodules
- Abnormal weight gain
- Learning disabilities
- Depression, frustration, fatigue
- Fetal malformations
- Weaken immune system
It can also cause your eyes to bulge out. Not very attractive.
Iodine also affects the utilization of oxygen in muscle tissue, bone maturation, healthy hair and skin, and the breakdown of proteins and fats. Iodine helps with the maturation of the genitals and is essential to hearing and mental development in babies.
In some cases, excessive iodine intake causes hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism symptoms include serious weight loss, hyperactivity, anxiety, and fatigue.
The part that iodine plays in this has to do with the production of thyroxine. Thyroxine is one of the hormones that is developed in our thyroid. An overproduction of thyroxine often leads to a serious condition called hyperthyroidism.
You can already begin to see the importance of iodine. But keep in mind that moderation is key.
When exposed to high concentrations of iodine you are at risk of overdosing, which can lead to health issues. Exposure can happen different ways, either by skin and eye contact, inhalation, or ingestion. Abdominal pain, fever, vomiting, delirium, and shortness of breath are some symptoms of an iron overdose.
Importance of Iodine
More likely than not, when you think about the essential minerals that our body needs to stay healthy, the mention of iodine is not even in the same sentence. That is a shame because iodine is such a key component to just about every function in our bodies.
Yet there are still those that are not aware of the correlation of iodine to our well-being. The importance to the thyroid is evident by the earlier text, but here are some other benefits of maintaining proper iodine levels in our bodies.
Helps Keep your brain sharp
Iodine helps the thyroid produce the hormones that are important to brain development.
Helps the Body Fight Off Toxins
There are dangerous chemicals, (chlorine, fluoride, and bromine) found in everything around us. One of the ways that they affect us is by significantly hindering our thyroid function. Maintaining proper iodine levels in our bodies can help block these chemicals from building up. There is even a possibility that iodine may help with mercury detoxification.
Protects Against Long-term Radiation Exposure
Your risk of exposure to radiation is higher than you think, especially if you travel. The x-ray-scanner that scans your body before getting on a plane could be harming your body. So if you are a frequent traveler, make sure that you maintain proper levels of iodine in your body.
Do you remember, as a child, the first thing that your mother put on a cut? There is a good chance she applied a brown-reddish solution to the wound. That was iodine. Iodine acts as an antiseptic killing any unhealthy organisms, including bacteria and viruses.
Iodine can help those with low immunities and can be as good as an antioxidant as Vitamin C. Therefore, it helps boost your immune system as it works to clean your blood, removing any harmful pathogens.
Iodine levels can play a role in fertility problems, possibly increasing the rate of stillbirths and miscarriages. It is important to screen for thyroid disease in women who experience difficulties during pregnancies.
Helps with Mood
Iodine is needed to create Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is produced in the pituitary gland. This hormone, in turn, tells the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones. These hormones in turn affect our mood.
It is important to to note that any fluctuations in TSH levels is an indicator that the thyroid may not be doing its job, and that in turn could be traced back to iodine intake levels.
Keeps teeth and bones strong
Iodine helps the body absorb calcium. One function of the thyroid is the production of the hormone calcitonin. This hormone helps keep the calcium levels in the blood. Not only does this help keep bones healthy and strong, but it also plays a role in maintaining the nervous system, muscles, and heart functioning properly.
How Much is Needed
Well, how much iodine do you need? The daily recommended intake of iodine for children is 120 mcg for children up to the age of 13, 150 mcg for adults, 220 mcg for pregnant women and 290 mcg for nursing mothers.
What is a Good Source? Sea For Yourself
So what can you introduce to your diet that is a 100% natural source for iodine?
The National Institutes of Health says that seaweed, such as kelp, is one of the best natural food sources of iodine. Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that is found near coastal areas having sea water that is rich in nutrients.
Unlike other forms such as chemical potassium iodine, kelp will not affect the physiology and biochemistry of the body. This ensures the rhythm of the body is not disturbed. Natural kelp can be taken in many different ways:
The importance of iodine is often overlooked. But now you know some basics.
Remember that the key is moderation. Too little or too much iodine can lead to health complications. Make sure that you pay a visit to your doctor if you feel that your iodine levels need to be checked.