Properties and Benefits of Iodine: As a trace element, iodine is essential for normal growth and development. About 60% of all our body’s reserves of iodine are stored in the thyroid gland, a fairly large endocrine gland situated in the neck area. As suspected, iodine supports thyroid activity and helps regulate thyroid hormone production. This, in turn, helps regulate metabolic processes and promotes good energy levels and cognitive development, immune boosting and detoxifying properties, among many other health benefits.
The thyroid gland is famous for its more than unpleasant outbursts which include severe and sudden weight gain or weight loss (not of the good kind), high sensitivity to either cold or heat, fatigue, goiter and so on. Iodine is essential for regulating thyroid activity and hormone production, thus preventing such health issues.
In addition to this, it helps remove toxins from the body, prevents the accumulation of fat and improves both calcium and silicon metabolism. As a side note, silicon is also a health-friendly mineral found in cereals, cabbage, onions, carrot, apples, oranges, pumpkin, etc. A deficit will lead to brittle nails, thin hair and wrinkles. But let’s go back to our mineral of the day. Considering its impressive properties, it is vital that we have an adequate intake.
Signs and symptoms of iodine deficiency include: irritability, depression, fatigue, perception problems, goiter, constipation, abnormal weight gain (associated with hypothyroidism), fertility problems, rough skin and intellectual disability or mental retardation in cases of a severe deficiency. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), iodine deficiency is a leading cause of intellectual disabilities worldwide. A poor diet as a result of poverty most often leads to a iodine deficit.
Because diet plays such an incredible role in supplying the body with the needed amounts of the mineral, it is best to consume certain foods regularly. Seafood, fish and shellfish, kelp contain generous amounts of iodine, which they absorb from sea water. Make sure you include in your diet canned sardines, tuna, cod, halibut, perch, salmon, sea bass and, when your budget allows for it, shrimp, oysters, clams.
Other great sources of plant origin are garlic, zucchini, sesame seeds, spinach, beet, turnip greens and lima (butter) beans, as well as a handful of dairy products. Dinner salt is a good option for supplying your daily diet with sufficient amounts of the mineral. Nevertheless, always remember not to abuse it and to choose iodized salt varieties.
Considering I have spoken so highly of the mineral, it is only natural that I give you a few reasons to believe it is this good for you. So here are some of the many health benefits of iodine:
1) It is vital for normal development. Iodine has a great influence on an important hormone-producing gland, the thyroid. Among other things, this endocrine gland produces thyroxine and triiodothyronine, two hormones that affect heart rate, blood pressure, physical and mental development, body weight and temperature.
2) It improves energy levels. By ensuring the body makes good use of calories, iodine basically prevents excess fat from depositing in tissues. This not only promotes good metabolism, but also ensures higher energy levels.
3) Other significant health benefits of iodine include a healthy, radiant skin, strong hair and beautiful nails. This has to do with increasing silicon absorption as well.
4) Iodine promotes the development of reproductive organs. This is owed to the mineral’s beneficial action on the thyroid gland and its activity. By regulating hormone production, iodine contributes to good fertility.
5) A good intake of iodine can prevent stillbirth. According to research, administering controlled doses of iodine to pregnant women with a history of stillbirths or miscarriages contributed to the birth of healthy babies. Such felicitous outcomes are owed to the direct action of the mineral on thryoid function and iron metabolism.
6) It induces apoptosis (programmed cell death), a natural process of crucial importance for the formation of new organs and the removal of (pre)cancerous cells.
7) Another interesting aspects of iodine concerns it ‘detoxifying’ properties. This mineral can actively cleanse the body of toxins such as fluoride, lead and mercury.
8) It strengthens the immune system. Research shows that iodine boasts impressive antibacterial properties and can even inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the stomach. Moreover, it appears to support the function of bacteria-eating white blood cells, strengthening the immune system.
9) Last, but not least, it reduces the effects of radiation. When exposed to harmful radiation, it is recommended to take iodine tablets.
Exceeding 2,000 mg of iodine can pose a serious health risk, especially if you are suffering from kidney problems. This is true for most nutrients so always be careful how much of anything you take. Remember that moderation is the key to a long, healthy, fulfilling life.