Iodine: An Essential Nutrient for So Many Body Functions

This blog is a re-publish from Organic Facts. The information is wonderful. My recommendations for iodine and how to track it are at the end.
Iodine is an essential trace element that is vital for normal growth and development. Around 60% of the iodine in the human body is stored in the thyroid gland. The health benefits of iodine play a very important role in the normal functioning of the thyroid gland, which secretes thyroid hormones that control the base metabolic rate of the body. In fact, without iodine, thyroid hormones could not even be synthesized.
Iodine controls the functioning of thyroid glands in human body, which in turn has a significant influence on the metabolic processes in the body. The health benefits of iodine help in the optimal utilization of calories, thereby preventing its storage as excess fat. Other benefits of iodine are the removal of toxins from the body and assistance for the system in utilizing various minerals, like calcium and silicon.
Deficiency Symptoms of Iodine
A deficiency of iodine can have serious effects on the body. The symptoms of iodine deficiency include frustration, depression, mental retardation, poor perception levels, goiter, abnormal weight gain, decreased fertility, coarse skin, chances of still birth in expectant mothers, constipation and fatigue. According to WHO reports, iodine deficiency is one of the leading causes of mental retardation all over the world.
Important Sources of Iodine
Iodine is present in large quantities in both marine plants and animals, including shellfish, deep-water whitefish, and brown seaweed kelp, which can absorb iodine from sea water. Be sure to include abundant quantities of canned sardines, canned tuna, lobster, oyster, clams, cod, haddock, halibut, herring perch, salmon, sea bass, and shrimp in your monthly diet. Dulse, kelp, and seaweed also contain dietary iodine. Garlic, lima beans, Swiss chard, summer squash, sesame seeds, soybeans, turnip greens and spinach are rich in iodine as well.

Health Benefits of Iodine
Iodine is required to ensure proper development and metabolism in humans. Some of its specific health benefits include:
Metabolic Rate: Iodine influences the functioning of thyroid glands by assisting in the production of hormones, which are directly responsible for controlling the body’s base metabolic rate. Metabolic rate affects the efficiency and efficacy of many of the body’s organ system and regular processes, including absorption of food, sleep cycles, and the transformation of food into usable energy.
Certain hormones, like thyroxin and triodothyronine, influence heart rate, blood pressure, body weight and temperature. The body maintains the BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) with the help of these hormones, which also helps in protein synthesis. Ensuring their normal creation and distribution in the body is key to maintaining health, so maintaining the thyroid gland which they come from is essential.
Energy Levels: Iodine also plays an important role in maintaining optimal energy levels of the body by ensuring the efficient utilization of calories, without allowing them to be deposited as excess fats.
Healthy nails, hair and teeth: The health benefits of iodine include the formation of healthy and shiny skin, teeth and hair. Iodine is an important element for hair care, as a lack of this mineral can result in hair loss. Moreover, it also speeds up hair growth and increases follicle strength.
Reproductive System: Iodine helps in the normal growth and maturity of reproductive organs. A sufficient quantity of iodine in pregnant women is essential to prevent stillbirths or neurocognitive conditions like cretinism in the newborn babies. It can also lead to gestational hypertension, which can result in a number of complications during infancy. Iodine also ensures proper movement and growth, along with speech and hearing abilities. Furthermore, besides affecting the health of the baby once it is conceived, a deficiency in iodine can actually make a woman infertile!
One problem that many pregnant women face is not realizing that they must consume iodine for herself and her child, because iodine passes into breast milk and a great deal is lost every day. Studies show that a pregnant or nursing woman can actually lose more than her entire required dose of iodine every day, which can result in serious iodine deficiency for her, even after pregnancy and breastfeeding is over, due to the changes in activity of her hormonal glands.
Immune System Strength: Most people focus on the thyroid gland implications of iodine, but it has other functions, including being a major booster of the immune system. Iodine is itself a scavenger of free hydroxyl radicals, and that, like vitamin-C, it also stimulates and increases the activity of antioxidants throughout the body to provide a strong defensive measure against various diseases, including heart disease and cancer. Some studies showed iodine directly protecting brain cells of rats from the harmful effects of free radicals by bonding to fatty acids in the cell membranes, leaving less room for free radicals to affect the organism.
Hypothyroidism: This condition is characterized by an under-active thyroid gland, and results in the general slowing down of all bodily processes as the chemical balance in your body goes off track. One of the most common results of hypothyroidism is a large increase in weight, because your body simply doesn’t burn off the calories of food and turn it into useful energy. Although hypothyroidism can occur for a number of reasons, not just iodine deficiency, it is still a good idea to increase your intake of iodine and stimulate the hormonal activity that will help you lose the weight and body fat that is so common to hypothyroid patients.
Some other effects of hypothyroidism are fatigue, dry skin, trouble concentrating, constipation, cramps, and leg swelling. If not treated, it can even result in more serious conditions like heart failure or a coma.
Fibrocystic disease: Iodine can significantly reduce conditions like fibrosis, turgidity, and breast tenderness. Iodine acts as a relief for fibrocystic diseases and is widely used in therapies, both alternative and modern. Studies have shown a significant correspondence between molecular iodine and a reduction in the signs and symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease.
Cancer Prevention: Probably the most important health benefit of iodine apart from its thyroidal influence is its anti-carcinogenic properties. Studies have shown that cancer cells shrink after being injected with iodine, and at times, they even undergo apoptosis (automatic cell death) and are then replaced with healthier cells. The exact mechanism of this process is still unknown, but studies have found this positive connection, particularly in terms of iodine’s effects on inducing apoptosis in breast cancer carcinoma cells.
In terms of thyroid cancer, iodine is essential in preventing this extremely dangerous form of cancer. Studies have shown that Thyroid cancer patients consistently show an improvement in symptoms after increasing their levels of iodine intake, and the appearance of thyroid cancer is far more common in people who suffer from iodine deficiency. Basically, iodine is a preventative measure and a cure of sorts for thyroid cancer.

Iodine programmed cell death: Iodine ensures the apoptosis or the programmed cell death which is essential in the formation of new organs as well as in the removal of malignant cells like cancer cells or diseased cells, which might prove harmful to the individual. This function is mainly derived from its activities on the thyroid gland and subsequent hormonal secretion and regulation from the thyroid gland. However, without iodine, vital processes like these could never occur.
Iodine removes toxic chemicals: Iodine can flush out chemical toxins like fluoride, lead, mercury, and biological toxins. The role of this “extrathyroidal iodine” that does other work throughout the body is very important. It has certain antibacterial qualities, particularly against Heliobacter pylori, which is a dangerous bacterial infection of the stomach, more commonly called H. Pylori, which has been connected with causing gastric cancer.
Thyroid and Goiter disorders: Iodine deficiency is widely recognized as the basic cause of Goiter. You should add eggs, salt, sea food, and dairy products to your diet to avoid iodine deficiency, and also, this often works as a cure for an enlarged thyroid gland.
A Few Words of Caution: Iodine overdose could be dangerous, especially in people suffering from kidney ailments or tuberculosis. When taken in excess, iodine could result in thyroid papillary cancer, rather than helping to prevent it. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be cautious not to take iodine except in specifically prescribed doses. A healthy balance is required, but different people’s bodies will react differently to dose amounts, so be careful and observant. That is why I use a very specific protocol for iodine loading. I start my patients off very slowly and ramp them up on their iodine, checking a skin patch test along the way before moving to higher concentrations of iodine.
How to Track Iodine Levels
Here at Fern Life Center we use a simple iodine skin patch test. This test is NOT specific, but does give a good ball park idea. For exact measurement of iodine we use an iodine spot and load test that is done as a urine test. The skin patch can be tracked by you at home if you purchase a simple roller ball bottle of a special percentage of iodine at our front desk. The urine test is not covered by insurance, but if you are taking iodine as a supplement, I recommend doing the urine test yearly just to make sure you are within therapeutic range on your iodine levels.

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