The Benefits of Iodine for Thyroid Health
Iodine is an essential mineral that the body needs for a healthy thyroid. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iodine is 150 mcg per day, which is about one sixth of a gram – a tiny speck! Although the amount of iodine we need is miniscule, it plays an important role in thyroid function which controls our metabolism, enzyme and protein breakdown. Having insufficient amounts of iodine in our daily diet can result in serious consequences such as tiredness, lack of energy, brain fog, poor sleep quality and weight gain from an underactive or poorly functioning thyroid.
You may wonder why anyone with a reasonably healthy diet may be lacking in iodine. In the 1920s, when iodine deficiency was first recognized, iodine was added to bread flour and salt to ensure that everyone got sufficient. Over time, iodizing flour was stopped. Nowadays, with an emphasis on a low sodium diet to reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke, many people are consciously avoiding salt. However, around 80% of our table salt is no longer iodized anyway, so Americans are unwittingly trending back towards iodine deficiency at an alarming rate without even being aware of the fact.
Some areas of the world, such as Midwest US, have soil that is naturally low in iodine. This means that the vegetables crops produced there are not the source of iodine that they are elsewhere. Such is the common problem of iodine deficiency, which causes goiters (enlarged thyroid glands) that the Midwest is commonly nicknamed the “goiter belt”. Other reasons for a lack of iodine in the diet are that iodine may remain tightly bound in the soil particles; there is a general trend towards a reduction in salt intake or eating less seafood due to over fishing and ocean pollution.
In some cases too much iodine can also cause health problems (the recommended US upper safety limit is actually set at 1100 mcg per day, although the Japanese consume at least 25 times more). Fear of iodine toxicity, known as iodophobia, has made people wary of taking it, yet we cannot live without it.
Iodine Deficiency and Halogens
Another reason for iodine deficiency and a rise in hypothyroidism is that other halogens such as fluoride, chloride and bromide are replacing iodine in the body. Fluoride and chloride are commonly found in our drinking water. Bromide is present in soil and crop pesticides, as well as being a common ingredient in bakery products. These halogens compete with the iodine for absorption into the body and act as goitrogens by interfering with the uptake of iodine to the thyroid. Instead of being transported to the thyroid, the iodine binds to the fluoride, chloride or bromide particles and passes out of the body.
One quick way to self-test for iodine deficiency is to soak a cotton ball in red-tinged USP tincture of iodine. It is often found in the medicine cabinet for dabbing on cuts and sores. Dab the iodine onto an area of soft skin tissue, such as the inner arm or thigh, in a two-inch circle. If the stain is absorbed quickly (under 3-4 hours), your body is lacking iodine. If your iodine levels are roughly normal, the stain will disappear in around 6 hours.
A more accurate test can be provided by your healthcare provider, and you can then make the necessary adjustments to gradually increase your dietary intake of iodine. This may be through supplements such as L-Minerate 528, a liquid mineral vitamin supplement, or a diet, which includes more iodized salt, seafood and fish, seaweed, yoghurt and fortified milk.