The Importance of Iodine To Our Health
Many persons remain unaware of the fact that Iodine is not just one of the 20 elements on the periodic table that we need to remember for Science class, but also a mineral needed for healthy body development.
Iodine is a mineral found in some foods. The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Getting enough iodine is important for everyone, especially infants and women who are pregnant.
The thyroid gland affects a huge list of functions in the body, and iodine is needed for proper thyroid function. Along with thyroid function, iodine is important for a whole host of reasons.
Iodine is associated with the ocean and is found in large amounts in seaweed. It is also found in other plants and animals from the sea. Countries that depend on significant dietary intake of seafood and seaweed, such as Japan, boast a much higher iodine intake than many landlocked countries. Lack of iodine can lead to several different problems, including poor thyroid function. When the thyroid gland lacks iodine it may increase the size of the goiter.
This enlarged gland searches out any iodine in the body. Scientists learned long ago that iodine supplementation, commonly done by adding it to salt, may help lessen iodine deficiency. Unfortunately, iodine deficiency is much more common than we realize. This has huge implications since low iodine is associated with mental retardation.
Some estimates suggest that nearly 20 million infants may be at risk for brain damage or mental retardation due to low iodine during the mother’s pregnancy. Sufficient amounts of iodine are needed for growth and development of the brain. Other conditions linked to low iodine include ADHD, pregnancy loss, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other nervous system diseases.
Iodine support can help with many issues. Iodine is needed as the major mineral for the thyroid. Clinically, many people experiencing the common symptoms of low thyroid function such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, dry skin and weak nails find benefit with iodine supplementation. Often these patients have normal thyroid tests but still feel that something is considerably out of balance. Iodine has been used to treat infections and help travelers purify water in the wilderness. Iodine is helpful to treat and prevent the formation of cysts, including ovarian and breast cysts [Source: Ghent]. Many women have found significant relief from fibrocystic breast pain through iodine treatment. This process can take 4-6 months of supplementation for full effect.
Food sources of iodine include kelp, strawberries and yogurt. We need to make iodine a priority in our diet. This is true because iodine is essential to life; without it we could not function.