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Did you know that iodine deficiency is now regarded as the most prevalent and easily preventable case of impaired cognitive development in children in the world? There are at least 30 million suffering from this preventable condition.
Iodine is a trace mineral and an essential component of the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate the metabolic activities of most cells and play a vital role in the process of early growth and development of most organs, especially the brain. Inadequate intake of iodine-rich foods leads to insufficient production of these hormones, which adversely affect the muscle, heart, liver, kidney and the developing brain. (1)
Here are iodine deficiency statistics that may surprise you:
The National Health Nutritional Examination Survey reported that iodine levels have decreased by 50 percent in the last 30 years.
More than 96 percent of over 5,000 patients tested were iodine-deficient in a clinical study conducted by thyroid expert Dr. David Brownstein. (2)
The term iodine deficiency disorders has been coined to represent the different array of disorder that result from iodine deficiency in a population. (4) These disorders are all preventable if the appropriate dose of iodine is administered. Common disorders that result from iodine deficiency are hypothyroidism, increased cholesterol levels, endemic goiter, cretinism, decreased fertility rate, increased infant mortality, fibrocystic breast disease, atherosclerosis and breast cancer. (5)
Defi of iodine
Iodine is an essential mineral required by the body to produce thyroid hormone. Iodine exists naturally in seafood products and some vegetables, and it’s also available in supplement format. The thyroid gland requires the use of iodine to help it control the growth and repair of damaged as well as support efficient metabolism.
Almost 1/3 of people across the globe are deficient in iodine. The highest risk individuals include pregnant women as well as those individuals who live in countries where iodine is lacking in the soil. People that do not use iodized table salt or those that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are also typically deficient in iodine. Iodine deficiency can cause numerous physiological problems if left undiagnosed and untreated. Symptoms of iodine deficiency are similar to hypothyroidism. If you notice any of the following 14 common signs of iodine deficiency, make sure you visit your physician for a blood test.
1. Formation of a Goiter
As mentioned, iodine deficiency takes on the appearance of hypothyroidism symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of the deficiency is a swelling in the neck, also known as a goiter. A goiter occurs when the thyroid gland starts to swell due to inefficient levels of thyroid hormone such as TSH and T3.
As TSH levels rise in the blood, the thyroid gland requires iodine to produce thyroid hormone. However, when the body is deficient in low iodine levels of this mineral means that it can’t produce enough thyroid hormone to maintain homeostasis.
As a result, the thyroid gland strange to produce more thyroid hormone causing the cells around the thyroid gland to grow, leading to the formation of a goiter. In most cases, the patient will experience relief from their condition by increasing iodine intake.
In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe iodine supplements to reverse the condition. However, for mild symptoms, the physician will recommend that the patient increases their intake of iodized table salt.
2. Weight Gain
Individuals for dealing with iodine deficiency may also find that they started to gain weight unexpectedly. The patient may begin to see the scale move under their feet even though they are not increasing caloric intake through their diet.
As mentioned, iodine is an essential mineral used in the production of thyroid hormone. When the affected individual starts to experience iodine deficiency, it reflects in hypothyroidism symptoms, such as swelling in the neck.
Thyroid hormone plays a critical role in maintaining metabolic rate. Metabolism is the process where the body converts glucose into biological energy. When thyroid hormones get low, the body has less efficiency at burning calories. As a result, the affected individual finds that they start to pack on body fat at an alarming pace.
If you notice a change in your body weight and you haven’t made any adjustments to your diet, make an appointment with your doctor for a blood test to see if you have low thyroid hormone levels that could be an indicator of iodine deficiency.
Individuals that are dealing with iodine deficiency may also notice that they start to experience weakness in the mornings that extends through the day. As the condition worsens, the affected individual might see that they begin to experience severe feelings of fatigue and low levels of energy.
Studies show that more than 80% of individuals with low thyroid hormone feel sluggish tired and weak throughout the day. This lack of energy occurs due to low thyroid hormone levels, which are not enough to stimulate metabolism.
As a result, a slower metabolism leads to less energy produced by the body, and the patient starts to notice the onset of fatigue symptoms. Studies show that weakness and fatigue or the most common symptoms among people with lower thyroid hormone production.
Fortunately, the symptoms are some of the first two arrive, and if the patient manages to catch them early, it’s possible to reverse the condition. Physicians may prescribe iodine tablets or recommend that the patient increases the intake of iodized table salt, depending on the state of their condition.
4. Hair loss
One of the more unknown functions of thyroid hormone is to help assist the growth of hair follicles on the scalp. As a result of iodine deficiency, affected individuals may notice that they start to experience gradual hair loss. The patient may see that they begin to find more hair than usual in the shower drain after washing their hair. They may also see that their hairbrush contains more hair than normal.
Unfortunately, losing your hair is especially concerning for women, and it’s one of the common signs of low thyroid hormone production. When thyroid hormone levels get low, the hair follicles are slow to regenerate, and over time they may start to fail to produce new hair.
According to studies, more than 30% of people with low thyroid hormone experience some form of hair loss, whether it’s male pattern baldness or a thinning of the hair in women. Fortunately, adding iodine back into a mineral supplementation schedule will help the hair follicles recover and start producing hair again.
5. Flaky and Dry Skin
One of the other more common symptoms of iodine deficiency includes dry and flaky skin. Many individuals right the symptoms of a change in the weather or seasonal conditions that may leave the skin feeling dry.
However, studies show that nearly 80% of people who are suffering from low thyroid hormone levels due to iodine deficiency, may end up showing symptoms of dry and flaky skin. The thyroid hormone is also an essential part of assisting the skin with regeneration.
Low levels of thyroid Hormone also cause a decrease in sweating, which is the body’s way of naturally moisturizing the skin. By including iodized table salt with your meals, you can reverse the effects of dry and flaky skin, returning your epidermis to optimal health.
Some individuals may confuse dry skin with the autoimmune disorder eczema. It’s important to note that these two conditions are not related, and eczema does not occur due to iodine deficiency.
6. Cold Body Temperature
As mentioned, the thyroid hormone plays a significant role in regulating metabolic function. If a person experiences iodine deficiency, they won’t be producing enough thyroid hormone. As a result, the metabolic rate starts to fall, and the patient may notice that they begin to feel cold all the time.
The sensation of low body temperature is common in more than 80% of individuals who are dealing with low thyroid hormone levels. The person may experience a body temperature that is almost a full degree or more under the 37-degree average for healthy people.
However, it’s important to note that cold body temperature can also be a sign of a bacterial infection such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
Therefore, if the patient notices a symptom of cold body temperature alongside any of the other signs in this article, they should arrange an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible. Your physician will check your body temperature and draw a blood sample for analysis to check on your thyroid and iodine levels.
7. Heart Rate Changes
Iodine also plays a crucial role in regulating your heart rate. Thyroid hormone is especially important for regulating metabolism, and it also plays a role in maintaining heart rate.
Individuals who are not eating enough iodine in their diet may start to experience a decrease in heart rate. The converse is also true, and people that consume too much iodine in their diet may experience an increase in heart rate.
People who are iodine deficient may notice that they start to feel weak, fatigued, or dizzy during the day. A slow heart rate means that your body is not pulling enough oxygen into your bloodstream, resulting in clouded thinking and other cognitive issues.
The patient may also find that they feel dizzy after standing up from a seated position, and in severe cases, they may find that they pass out on their feet after rising. Increasing iodized table salt intake can remedy the situation. However, it’s best if you visit your physician for a checkup.
8. Cognitive Issues
Low levels of thyroid hormone also play a significant role in reducing proper mental function. Individuals who are living with iodine deficiency experience low levels of thyroid hormone production, resulting in impaired cognitive function.
The brain requires higher levels of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream to ensure that the hippocampus and frontal lobes in the brain can operate at peak functionality.
When the affected individual does not produce enough thyroid hormone as a result of an iodine deficiency, the brain starts to experience cognitive issues. As a result, the patient may begin to experience problems with memory. They will find that they are easily distracted, and it’s challenging to focus the attention on their work or a specific topic.
Typically, introducing iodine supplementation or using iodized salt in your diet will improve these conditions and return the brain to normal function within a few days. If you do increase your iodine intake and do not see any results, you must contact your doctor and arrange a consultation.
9. Pregnancy Issue
Pregnant women often experience the onset of iodine deficiency as the unborn child grows in the womb.
Pregnant women are eating for two people, and they need to include the correct mineral consumption for two individuals as well. Unfortunately, unprepared women may not understand the necessity for this vital mineral, and they may even limit their salt intake, thinking that it may be harming their unborn child.
However, iodine is a critical mineral for the development of the fetus. It’s also a crucial component for producing milk during lactation after the birth of the child. Women who do not have high iodine levels will find that they struggle to produce milk, and they may also find that they experience fatigue and weakness throughout the day.
Pregnant women experiencing an iodine deficiency may also notice that they start to show other symptoms related to hypothyroidism, such as a goiter in the throat.
10. Heavy or Irregular Periods
Women who are dealing with an iodine deficiency may also experience issues with menstrual bleeding. As a result of low iodine levels in the bloodstream, the patient starts to experience a drop in thyroid hormone production. The decrease in thyroid hormone leads to complications with menstrual bleeding, and more than 60% of women begin to experience irregular menstrual cycles.
Studies also show that women with low thyroid hormone levels as a result of iodine deficiency experienced much more heavy bleeding during the menstrual cycle. Low levels of thyroid hormone disrupt the productions of hormones and the signals they used to interact with the body during the menstrual cycle.
Women that notice they are dealing with any of the other symptoms in this list alongside heavy menstrual bleeding should make an appointment with the doctor for a consultation. It’s possible to reverse this condition by increasing iodine levels, thereby boosting thyroid hormone production.
11. Swollen Face
Thyroid woman also plays a vital role in regulating how the body controls water intake and maintains water within cells. As a result of the low thyroid hormone attributed to iodine deficiency, the affected individual may notice that they start to take the appearance of a swollen face with puffy cheeks.
The patient may start to hold more water than usual due to the low thyroid hormone levels in the body. An easy way to check for excess water is to try the skin press test. Push your finger firmly against the skin on your forearm, and then release after 10 seconds.
If you notice that your finger leaves a white or yellow presence on the surface of your skin that slowly fades away, it means that you are holding subcutaneous water underneath your skin. Iodine helps the body regulate water levels, and by including more iodine in your diet, the symptoms should start to disappear, and your face will return to its standard shape and size.
One of the least common symptoms of iodine deficiency on this list is Constipation. Iodine plays a significant role in communication between the nervous system and other systems in the body. When the body doesn’t have enough iodine, it starts to reduce its production of thyroid hormone. This situation can produce a cascading effect on other biological systems in the body.
The gastrointestinal tract relies on levels of thyroid hormone to ensure metabolism and digestion take place efficiently. However, in the absence of iodine and low thyroid hormone levels, the gastrointestinal system starts to slow down and may not be as efficient at processing stool.
As a result, the affected individual starts to feel the onset of Constipation. Constipation symptoms may vary in their intensity depending on the extent of the iodine deficiency and thyroid hormone levels in the body. Increasing iodine intake through table salt or supplements may help to relieve the symptoms and return the gastrointestinal tract to normal function.
The body is delicate hormone balance plays a role in maintaining homeostasis. However, many people don’t realize that it also plays a significant part in maintaining mental stability as well. People who are iodine deficient may start to experience the onset of depression symptoms in their life, and they may resort to the use of dangerous medications to help them resolve this mental state.
However, many people don’t realize that by merely increasing their iodine intake, they do not have to take dangerous drugs like SSRIs. Iodine increases thyroid hormone production resulting in an improvement in the regulation of the hormonal system. As a result, the patient stats to experience an increase in feelings of well-being and an improvement in their mood.
However, it’s important to note that depression is a serious condition and may occur due to several reasons. Therefore, if you start to experience depression in your life, it’s best to speak to a qualified medical professional for assistance with managing the condition as it may not be related to iodine deficiency.
14. High Cholesterol Levels
Iodine deficiency can also lead to other problems related to a lack of this mineral in the body. In severe cases of iodine deficiency and low thyroid hormone production, the affected individual may start to experience changes in their cholesterol profile.
The patient may start to experience the onset of high LDL cholesterol levels. LDL cholesterol is the bad kind of cholesterol, and it causes blockages in the arteries providing blood to the cardiovascular system and lungs. If left and diagnosed and untreated high cholesterol levels may result in the patient experiencing cardiac arrest in the form of my cardio infarction, pulmonary embolism, or stroke.
Introducing iodized salt into your diet, they seem like the last thing that you need to do to improve this issue. However, by bringing this mineral back into balance in the body, you will start to increase the production of HDL cholesterol, (the good type of cholesterol), while reducing the production of LDL cholesterol in the blood.
Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. Iodine is found in various foods (see Table 1). If you do not have enough iodine in your body, you cannot make enough thyroid hormone. Thus, iodine deficiency can lead to enlargement of the thyroid (goiter – see Goiter brochure), hypothyroidism (see Hypothyroidism brochure) and to intellectual disabilities in infants and children whose mothers were iodine deficient during pregnancy.
Before the 1920s, iodine deficiency was common in the Great Lakes, Appalachian, and Northwestern U.S. regions and in most of Canada. Prevention of iodine deficiency by the introduction of iodized salt has virtually eliminated iodine deficiency and the so-called “goiter belt” in these areas. However, many other parts of the world do not have enough iodine available through their diet and iodine deficiency continues to be an important public health problem globally. Approximately 30% of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency.
Iodine deficiency is diagnosed across populations and not specifically in individuals. Since iodine is released from the body through the urine, the best way to determine iodine deficiency across a large population is to measure the amounts of iodine in urine samples. Iodine deficiency is defined as a median urinary iodine concentration less than 100μg/L in a nonpregnant population, or <150 μg/L in a population of pregnant women.
In the United States, iodine status has remained generally adequate in since the 1940s although studies have shown that urinary iodine levels dropped by about half between the early 1970s and the early 1990s, and most recently mild iodine deficiency has re-emerged in pregnant women. Iodine deficiency remains a major issue in other parts of the world, including parts of Europe, Africa and Asia.
Iodine levels can be measured in the blood or the urine. However, these tests are not good at accurately determining how much iodine is in your body and so cannot be used to diagnose iodine deficiency. When iodine deficiency is seen in an entire population, it is best managed by ensuring that common foods that people eat contain sufficient levels of iodine. Since even mild deficiency during pregnancy can have effects on a pregnancy and the developing baby, all U.S. women who are planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding should take a multivitamin containing 150 μg iodine per day.
Iodine Deficiency Symptoms
Clinical signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency include: (6)
Difficulty losing weight
Lethargy or fatigue
Sensitivity to cold
Cold hands and feet
Shortness of breath
Impaired kidney function
Muscle weakness and joint stiffness
1. Low Dietary Iodine
Soils from mountainous area — such as the Alps, Andes and Himalayas — and areas with frequent flooding are likely to be deficient in iodine. Food grown in iodine-deficient soils rarely provide enough iodine to the livestock and population inhabiting there.
Unlike nutrients such as calcium, iron or vitamins, iodine does not occur naturally in specific foods; rather, it is present in the soil and ingested through foods grown on that soil. In the early 1920s, Switzerland was the first country to fortify table salt with iodine to control cretinism and endemic goiter. In the 1970s and 1980s, controlled studies showed that iodine supplementation before and during pregnancy not only improved cognitive function in the rest of the population, but eliminated new cases of cretinism.
Iodine is obtained primarily through diet but can be obtained from iodine supplementation. (8) In food that is found primarily in sea life, iodine is absorbed into the body through the consumption of sea vegetables and seafood. Other food sources, such as nuts, seeds, beans, turnips, garlic and onions, are good sources, provided that the soil contains sufficient quantities of iodine. (9)
2. Selenium Deficiency
Iodine deficiency, coupled with selenium deficiency, is likely to lead into thyroid imbalance. One of the more serious manifestations of thyroid imbalance is a goiter. In many individuals who are diagnosed with iodine deficiency, studies have shown some may have selenium deficiency as well. The thyroid gland needs both selenium and iodine to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones, but when there’s a deficiency in one or both, your body has low thyroid hormone levels. That’s why adequate iodine levels are needed for adequate thyroid function.
Iodine is known for playing a vital role in thyroid health while benefit-rich selenium is critical in recycling iodine. When selenium levels are low, the thyroid will work harder to produce thyroid hormones, and the body will have a difficult time changing these hormones into forms utilized by cells. It’s important to treat both deficits in order to re-establish normal thyroid health. (10)
According to the journal Pediatrics, about one-third of pregnant women in the U.S. are iodine-deficient. Currently, only about 15 percent of breastfeeding and pregnant women take iodine supplements. (11)
Supplemental iodine is commonly in the form of sodium iodide or potassium. Severe iodine deficiency is associated with stunted mental and physical growth, and even marginal iodine deficiency can impair brain functioning in infants. Supplementation should include at least 150 micrograms of iodide, and use iodized table salt. Combined intake from supplements and food should be 290 to 1,100 micrograms a day. Potassium iodine is the preferred form. (12)
4. Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco smoke contains a compound called thiocyanate. The inhibitory effects of thiocyanate on the uptake of iodide is through competitive inhibition of the iodide transport mechanism and may be responsible for the reduction of levels. Other substances in tobacco smoke that can impair thyroid function are hydroxypyridine metabolites, nicotine and benzapyrenes. Tobacco smoke not only has an effect on thyroid function, but can also block thyroid hormone action. (13)
5. Fluoridated and Chlorinated Water
Tap water contains fluoride and chlorine, which inhibit the absorption of iodine. In a study where researchers used the Wechsler Intelligence Test to determine the IQs of a total of 329 eight- to 14-year-old children living in nine high-fluoride, low-iodine villages and in seven villages that had only low levels of iodine. As discovered, the IQs of children from the high-fluoride, low-iodine villages were lower than those from the villages with low iodine alone. (14)
6. Goitrogen Foods
Eating raw vegetables in the Brassica family (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, soy, Brussels sprouts) can impact thyroid function because they contain goitrogens, molecules that impair peroxidase. Steaming these cruciferous vegetables until fully cooked before consumption breaks the goitrogens down. People with iodine deficiency are at risk when consuming these foods
How You Can Prevent an Iodine Deficiency
Best Sources of Iodine
Seaweed is one of the best food sources of iodine, but it’s highly variable in its content. Examples include arame, kombu, wakame, kelp and hijiki. Kelp has the highest amount of iodine of any food in the world.
Other good sources of iodine include seafood, dairy products (usually due to the use of iodine feed supplements and iodophor sanitizing agents in the dairy industry) and eggs. Dairy products, especially raw milk and grain products, are the major contributors of iodine to the American diet. Iodine is also present in infant formulas and human breast milk.
Vegetables and fruit iodine content varies, depending upon the iodine content in the soil, irrigation practices and fertilizer that was used. Iodine concentrations in plants can vary in range as little as 10 mcg/kg to 1 mg/kg dry weight. This variability influences the iodine content of animal products and meat because it affects the iodine content of foods that the animals consume. (17)
Food Sources High in Iodine
Based upon micrograms per serving and daily value (DV) of iodine, the top food sources of iodine include:
Seaweed — Whole or 1 sheet: 16 to 2,984 micrograms (11 percent to 1,989 percent)
Baked Cod — 3 ounces: 99 micrograms (66 percent)
Cranberries — 1 ounce: 90 micrograms (60 percent)
Plain Low-Fat Yogurt — 1 cup: 75 micrograms (50 percent)
Baked Potato — 1 medium: 60 micrograms (40 percent)
Raw Milk — 1 cup: 56 micrograms (37 percent)
Shrimp — 3 ounces: 35 micrograms (23 percent)
Navy Beans — ½ cup: 32 micrograms (21 percent)
Egg — 1 large egg: 24 micrograms (16 percent)
Dried Prunes — 5 prunes: 13 micrograms (9 percent)
Iodine Supplements and Iodine Salts
Salt iodization, also known as universal salt iodization, programs are put into place in more than 70 countries, including the U.S. and Canada, and 70 percent of households worldwide use iodized salt. The intention of U.S. manufacturers iodizing table salt in the 1920s was to prevent iodine deficiencies. Potassium iodide and cuprous iodine have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for salt iodization, while WHO recommends potassium iodate due to it having greater stability.
In the United States, iodized salt contains 45 micrograms iodine per gram of salt, which can be found in one-eighth to one-fourth teaspoon. Non-iodized salt is almost always used by food manufacturers, considering the majority of the salt intake comes from processed foods. (18)
This is one of the reasons, however, that I recommend that you use benefit-rich sea salt instead and get your iodine through it, certain foods and supplementation rather than iodizing table salt. Sea salt (Himalayan or celtic salt) contains more than 60 trace minerals and doesn’t pose a risk for overconsuming iodine like table salt can. It’s more beneficial and natural, plus it tastes better.
Furthermore, the benefits of universal salt iodization (USI) still require more research. Research published in the journal Nutrients examined a national cross-sectional study of iodine status among school-aged children in Tunisia, a country that adopted USD two decades ago. The researchers concluded: (19)
Our adequacy assessment of the Tunisian USI program showed that, regarding the UIC impact indicator, the program achieved its objectives: ID national rates are now well below the target criteria of WHO certification (though with important geographic disparities). On the other hand, our study underlined that the coverage of households by adequately iodized salt, falls short of the target of certification. This inadequacy, due to a large variability of salt iodine content, also has adverse consequences, in that a non-negligible proportion of the population features an excess of iodine.
Most of the multivitamin/mineral supplements contain the forms of sodium iodide or potassium iodine. Dietary supplements of iodine-containing kelp or iodine are also available.
Benefits of Iodine
1. Controls Metabolic Rate
Iodine influences greatly the functioning of the thyroid glands by helping with the production of hormones directly responsible for controlling the body’s base metabolic rate. Metabolic rate ensures the efficiency of the body’s organ systems and biochemical processes, including sleep cycle, absorption of food and transformation of food into energy we can use.
Hormones, like thyroxin and triiodothyronine, influence blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and weight. The basal metabolic rate is maintained by the body with the help of these hormones, which also plays a role in protein synthesis. (20)
2. Maintains Optimal Energy Levels
Iodine plays a vital role in maintaining optimal energy levels of the body by the utilization of calories, without allowing them to be deposited as excess fat.
3. Helps Prevent Certain Kinds of Cancer
Iodine plays a role in boosting immunity and inducing apoptosis, the self-destruction of dangerous, cancerous cells. While iodine assists in destroying mutated cells, it doesn’t destroy healthy cells in the process. Evidence shows the ability of iodine-rich seaweed to inhibit growth of breast tumor development. (21) This is supported by the low rate of breast cancer in parts of world, especially in Japan, where women consume a diet rich in iodine. If you notice breast changes in your breast tissue, it could be a sign of iodine deficiency.
Bromine plays a role here as well, as research shows bromine is a suspected carcinogen that “may exacerbate iodine insufficiency since bromine competes for iodine uptake by the thyroid gland and other tissues (i.e. breast).” (22)
4. Removes Toxic Chemicals
Iodine can remove heavy metal toxins like lead, mercury and other biological toxins. Accumulating evidence suggests there are many extrathyroidal benefits of iodine, including antioxidant functions, maintaining the integrity of the mammary gland as well as antibacterial properties, particularly against H. pylori, which is a bacterial infection in the stomach and associated with gastric cancer. (23)
5. Boosts Immunity
Iodine doesn’t just affect the thyroid; it does many other things, including playing an important role as an immune booster. Iodine is a scavenger of free hydroxyl radicals and stimulates and increases the activity of antioxidants throughout the body to provide a strong defensive measure against various diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Recent studies have shown that iodine directly protects the brain cells of rats from the harmful effects of free radicals by bonding onto fatty acids in the cell membrane, leaving less room for free radicals to have a negative impact on the organism. (24)
6. Forms Healthy and Shiny Skin
Dry, irritated and rough skin that becomes flaky and inflamed is a common sign of iodine deficiency. Iodine helps with the formation of shiny and healthy skin, hair and teeth and is an important trace element, as a lack of iodine results in hair loss.
A clinical study performed in Mexico wanted to determine the trace elements of healthy hair in malnourished children. Iodine levels were 10-fold higher than what has been reported by other authors. (25)
7. Prevents Enlarged Thyroid Gland
Iodine deficiency is widely recognized as the primary cause of goiter. In fact, according to a meta-analysis out of China, lower urinary iodine concentration values “were associated with an increased risk of goiter, and … iodine deficiency may lead to an increased risk of goiter.” (26)
Add sea salt, seafood, raw milk and eggs to your diet to avoid iodine deficiency, as this often also works as a preventative step of an enlarged thyroid gland.
8. Helps Prevent Impaired Development and Growth in Children
Studies have shown that iodine deficiency during infancy and pregnancy can interrupt healthy brain development and growth. Infants are more susceptible to mortality and high risk for neurodegenerative problems if iodine-deficient, such as a mental form of disability known as cretinism, motor function problems, learning disabilities and low growth rate.
In fact, according to research published by professors at the University of Sydney in Australia and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Sweden, “Brain damage and irreversible mental retardation are the most important disorders induced by iodine deficiency.” (27)
It’s difficult to get an accurate reading of iodine levels, even though doctors commonly test women for iodine deficiency during pregnancy. It’s encouraged by health care professionals for women to increase their supplementation with iodine and intake of iodine-rich foods to prevent these deficiencies.
Increasing Intake of Iodine Naturally
To increase intake of iodine, try adding foods that are naturally high in iodine into your diet through the following recipes:
Traditional egg salad recipe
Adding seaweed to or other sea vegetables to miso soup
Try making a savory baked fish dish
Whip up some cranberry sauce with pecans
Enjoy a morning yogurt berry smoothie
A healthy balance is required, but different people’s bodies will react differently to dose amounts. People who have Hashimoto’s, thyroiditis or particular cases of hypothyroid individuals should speak with a specialist in iodine studies to discuss how much, if any, iodine should be taken through careful supplementation.
Iodine is a trace mineral and an essential component of the thyroid hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones regulate the metabolic activities of most cells and play a vital role in the process of early growth and development of most organs, especially the brain.
Inadequate intake of iodine-rich foods leads to insufficient production of these hormones, which adversely affect the muscle, heart, liver, kidney and the developing brain.
Symptoms of iodine deficiency include depression, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, headaches, lethargy or fatigue, memory problems, menstrual problems, hyperlipidemia, recurrent infections, sensitivity to cold, cold hands and feet, brain fog, thinning hair, constipation, shortness of breath, impaired kidney function, muscle weakness, and joint stiffness.
Risk factors for iodine deficiency include low dietary iodine, selenium deficiency, pregnancy, tobacco smoke, fluoridated and chlorinated water, and goitrogen foods.
Iodine benefits the body by helping control metabolic rate, maintain optimal energy, prevent certain kinds of cancer, remove toxins, boost immunity, form healthy and shiny skin, prevent an enlarged thyroid, and prevent impaired development and growth in children.
YouTube Videos on Iodine