It is well known that iodine is needed to prevent disorders such as goiter, cretinism, and mental retardation. Although many medical professionals believe you only need enough iodine to keep goiter at bay, that’s not enough for the entire body to function well.
Insufficient iodine in the bloodstream can cause problems with hair loss, lethargy, depression, headaches, body temperature regulation, decreased libido, difficulty losing weight, dry skin, and painful menstrual periods.
There are many benefits to having adequate amounts of iodine –
- Helps the pituitary/adrenal response to stress
- Mucolytic (breaks of mucus)
- Antibacterial, antiviral, antiparasitic
- Prevents goiter, autoimmune thyroid conditions, thyroid cancer
- Needed to produce thyroid hormones (T3)
Iodine is an essential mineral that’s needed not just by the thyroid gland, but the entire body. School children who have iodine deficiency have a lower intelligence level and can experience learning disabilities. Pregnant women who get enough iodine are more likely to prevent miscarriages and give birth to healthy babies.
The brain, via the pituitary gland, produces polypeptides that stimulate hormones and glands. The brain also regulates the size of the glands and how well they produce hormones.
The thyroid gland, located at the base of the throat, plays a major role in metabolism, circulation, mood, temperature regulation, digestion, elimination, bone mass, elimination, cognitive function, and immune regulation.
In the early 1900s there was increased incidence of goiter in the western states. For this reason, iodine was added to salt, and the results were amazing. Goiter was significantly reduced. By 1951 less than .5 percent of school age children had goiter.
Since that time, the amount of iodine needed to prevent goiter is the gold standard for iodine intake; however, the rest of the body’s need for iodine was not considered. The recommended level for iodine stands at 150 mcg daily for men and women, 220 mcg daily during pregnancy, and 290 mcg daily during lactation.
In the 1960s iodine was added to baked goods as an anti-caking agent. Once slice of bread contained as much as the daily requirement of 150 mcg so there was plenty of iodine in the food supply even if people didn’t eat salt.
In the 1980s it was decided there was too much iodine in baked goods, so iodine was replaced with bromide. Bromide is a halide, meaning it is in the same class as fluoride, chloride, and iodine. Since these elements are so similar, iodine receptors quickly fill up with these other elements and iodine is rendered ineffective.
It takes large amounts of iodine to displace halides such as fluoride and chloride. Evidence of this can be seen in the rising levels of thyroid related illnessâ€”thyroid cancer and autoimmune thyroid disorders such as breast, prostate, endometrial, and ovarian cancer.
Another reason for low levels of iodine in Western diets is chronic stress. Stress can greatly interfere with hormone production and disturb the brain-gland connection.
Do you know someone who is sensitive to temperature, depressed, constipated, etc.? The thyroid gland is the first place to look and the test is not expensive.
Be aware that even if your doctor orders a TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) test, the results may be skewered because your stress levels have driven your hormonal levels low or high.
In the case of a high reading ( 2.5-5) the thyroid is sluggish and not producing enough hormone. In the caser of a low reading the presumption is the brain thinks there is plenty of thyroid hormone and therefore isn’t producing much. So you can see that measuring the pituitary is not an accurate method. It’s more accurate to measure the free circulating hormone level in the blood.
According to the National Health & Nutrition Survey (NHANES), iodine levels in the US are down 50 percent. While we only need a minute amount of iodine for healthâ€”about a teaspoon full for our entire life. The problem is that the body does not store iodine, so we must have a regular daily intake of iodine.
Some of the reasons for iodine insufficiency are related environment. Hypertension, which is rampant in the US causes many people to avoid salt — further reducing iodine levels in the body.
Certain beverages are goitrogens–that is substances that decrease iodine uptake. Common goitrogens are –
- Chlorine in pools
- Fluoride in water supplies
- Bromide in soft drinks (Mountain Dew & Gatorade)
- Radioactive testing
Adding iodine to your diet is simple enough. The best natural sources of iodine are sea vegetables and kelp like nori, kombu, or dulse.
FFP Laboratories offers the Iodine Loading Test where urine is collected throughout the day after ingesting iodine. If iodine levels are sufficient, 90 percent will pass from the body into the urine. The more that remains in the body, the greater the need for iodine.
Who should not take iodine? Have your doctor run a TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies) blood test. If it is positive, do not take iodine. There are some people who are allergic to iodine, but most often it is really shellfish they are allergic to.
If you have a family history of thyroid disorders or an existing thyroid problem, you should avoid iodine and seek medical advice.
Reference: Hypothyroidism Breakthrough