Iodine is essential for our health not only does it influence our thyroid hormones which controls our weight and metabolism, but also plays a role in protecting us against cancers, and promoting the mental health of our children.
Iodine is a trace mineral that is essential to the health of our body. High levels of Iodine are found in several tissues and organs of our body including thyroid, breast, liver, eyes, lung, heart and adrenal glands.
How does iodine affect your health?
Well, let’s look at the effect that iodine has on our tissues and organs. Firstly, iodine is vital for the production of our thyroid hormones. Without iodine we cannot manufacture thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones control our metabolic rate – they influence our heart rate, blood pressure, body weight and body temperature. When we are deficient in iodine we can find that we are putting on weight, and can feel the cold more than usual. Iodine is also needed for correct oestrogen production and metabolism. Iodine deficiency has been lined to ovarian cysts, fibrocystic breast disease, and uterine fibroids.
Many of us have used iodine solutions as antiseptics over the years. I have used Betadine solution on my horse’s cuts and abrasions to ensure that they didn’t get infected. Iodine has a role as an antiseptic in our bodies, particularly in our stomach for the production of stomach acid and prevention of harmful bacteria in the stomach such as Helicobacter pylori.
Iodine helps promote detoxification of toxins such as mercury, lead, and fluoride as well as many other biological toxins. There is research gaining momentum that correlates correct iodine levels with reduction of cancers including: breast, ovarian, prostate, stomach, colon, and thyroid.
The effects of iodine deficiency are especially prevalent in pregnancy. Women who are iodine deficient when they are pregnant can experience still births or birth children that display mental retardation called cretinism. Iodine is vital for the development of the brain and nervous system, including speech and hearing.
So how do you know if you are iodine deficient?
Symptoms can include: frustration, depression, poor perception, goiter, abnormal weight gain, infertility, constipation, fatigue, and dry scalp and skin.
There are many diseases that can be linked to iodine deficiency. The obvious ones are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, but other conditions include uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian cysts, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, ‘brain fog’, and constipation.
Foods that contain Iodine include: sea plants and animals – kelp, sardines, salmon, tuna, halibut, shrimp and sea salt. Other sources of include: garlic, lima beans, eggs, dairy foods such as natural yoghurt and mozzarella cheese, soya beans, zucchini, sesame seeds, spinach, and iodized salt.
There are many regions across the world that has people suffering from Iodine deficiency, due to the lack of iodine in the soils. These regions include Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, China, India, and Africa to name a few. Because the soils are deficient in iodine means that any land based food product will be deficient. Countries that use a vast amount of seafood are less likely to have iodine deficiency. However many of the fish species that contain iodine also can contain high levels of mercury such as tuna, salmon, prawn, lobster and oysters. It is universally agreed that pregnant women should limit the amount of the amount of these fish to less than 2 times per week. Pregnant women should look to other food sources for iodine – such as kelp, garlic, sea salt, eggs and spinach.
Using Iodised salt as a source of iodine can create other health concerns due to the level of sodium in the salt. I recommend that other foods are a better source.
If you are wondering about how you can find out about your iodine levels. There are a couple of methods. The first is a urinary iodine test performed, by request from your health practitioner, by a pathology laboratory. The second method is using Lugol’s Iodine application. The length of time that the iodine takes to disappear after application in a patch test will determine if you are deficient. The patch should last for 24 hours.
By ensuring adequate iodine levels in our bodies we can prevent many degenerative diseases including some cancers as well as protecting the mental development of our babies.