When you hear the word iodine, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most people think about the antiseptic solution that they apply on the skin when they are injured, and this is one of the many benefits that iodine can provide. Iodine is a trace element or mineral that can be found in the soil, the ocean and seawater. Although it’s not a will-know mineral, it’s one of the important minerals inside the body, and we should increase our awareness of this vitally important trace mineral.
Trace minerals are those minerals needed in a tiny amount and usually measured as micrograms (μg), not milligrams (mg). Iodine is an essential nutrient, which means it’s not produced naturally inside the body and we must take it in our diet. Iodine is responsible for production of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Our body uses these hormones to convert our food intake into energy. Without them, our bodies will metabolize the food poorly and function abnormally.
The most important function of iodine is to control body metabolism through the thyroid gland and to maintain its proper function. Iodine is the main component in thyroid hormones. It converts the precursor of thyroid hormones thyroglobulin to its active form, T3 and the inactive form, T4. Triiodothyronine (T3) contains 3 iodine atoms, and tetraiodothyronine (T4) contains 4 iodine atoms.
70% of iodine is concentrated inside the thyroid and uses iodine to synthesize its hormones. 30% is found in other organs, such as salivary glands, breasts, ovaries, stomach lining, eyes, and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF).
90% of iodine is excreted from the body, and only 10% is stored. So, it should be constantly taken from the diet.
Iodine supports brain function in growing infants and improves their cognitive function. Without enough iodine, infants may be born with mental retardation.
Iodine forms the architecture of glandular tissue, not only in the thyroid gland but also the breasts, uterus, ovaries, prostate, and testicles.
It prevents and helps in treating thyroid cancer, fibrocystic breasts and polycystic ovaries (PCOS) and other glandular diseases.
Iodine detoxifies the body from heavy metals. It’s essential in people who consume too much seafood that contain a high level of mercury like tuna, salmon, and shellfish because iodine will protect the body and help detoxify it. Some people may experience an allergic reaction after introducing too much iodine-containing food, such as sea kelp or iodine supplements, but that is not always the case. This reaction may be caused because the body is under detoxification. It’s clearing the body from heavy metal and chemicals like chloride, fluoride, and bromine.
Iodine reduces the need for insulin as it stabilizes blood sugar levels. It can also slow down the effect of diabetes on body organs. Therefore, it is important in patients who have diabetes to have normal iodine levels in their bodies.
It lowers the estrogen in the body by converting estradiol to estriol the good estrogen, which can help in diseases that cause by dominant estrogen.
» Now, let’s discuss the sources of iodine.