Iodine is an essential trace element vital for normal growth and development. Around 60% of the iodine in the human body is stored in the thyroid gland. Its health benefits 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 it, thyroid hormones could not even be synthesized.
Iodine controls the functioning of thyroid glands in the human body, which in turn has a significant influence on the metabolic processes in the body. It helps in the optimum utilization of calories, thereby preventing the storage as excess fat. Other benefits include removal of toxins from the body and assistance for the system in utilizing various minerals, like calcium and silicon.
Table of Contents
- Deficiency Symptoms of Iodine
- Important Sources of Iodine
- Health Benefits of Iodine
Deficiency Symptoms of Iodine
A deficiency of iodine can have serious effects on the body. The symptoms of its deficiency include frustration, depression, mental retardation, poor perception levels, goiter, abnormal weight gain, decreased fertility, coarse skin, chances of stillbirth in expectant mothers, constipation, and fatigue. In severe cases, mental retardation associated with diseases such as cretinism, characterized by physical malformations, can be the result. According to WHO reports, this deficiency is one of the leading causes of mental retardation all over the world.
It is somewhat rare for this deficiency to occur in North America, as many food items are either grown in iodine-rich soil, or they contain salt, which is often iodized in western nations. However, some countries do not iodize their salt, and cultures that grow crops and livestock at a great distance from coastal waters are less likely to have iodine-rich soil. The body needs 100-200 mcg of iodine per day, and 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt contains approximately 95 mcg of iodine, so you can see why regions with access to iodized salt are less likely to suffer from iodine deficiency.
Important Sources of Iodine
It 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 seawater. 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, seaweed, garlic, lima beans, Swiss chard, summer squash, sesame seeds, soybeans, turnip greens, and spinach are some of the other sources of iodine. Iodized salt is another important source, and bakers regularly add iodine to bread dough as a stabilizing agent.
Health Benefits of Iodine
This element is required to ensure proper development and metabolism in humans. The specific health benefits include;
Regulates 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 the body’s organ system and regular processes, including absorption of food, sleep cycle, and the transformation of food into usable energy.
Certain hormones, like thyroxine and triiodothyronine, 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.
Optimizes 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.
Skin & Hair Care
The health benefits of iodine include the formation of healthy and shiny skin, teeth, and hair. It is an important element for hair care, as lack of this mineral can result in hair loss. Moreover, it also speeds up hair growth and increases follicle strength.
A sufficient quantity of iodine in pregnant women is essential to prevent stillbirths or neurocognitive conditions like cretinism in the newborn babies. It can lead to gestational hypertension, which can result in a number of complications during infancy. It ensures proper movement and growth of the baby, along with speech and hearing abilities. Furthermore, besides affecting the health of the baby once it is conceived, a deficiency of iodine can actually make a woman infertile.
One problem that many pregnant women face is not realizing that they must consume iodine for the child and themselves as well because it passes into breast milk and a great deal is lost every day. Studies show that a pregnant or nursing woman can lose more than her entire required dose of iodine every day, which can result in a serious deficiency for her, even after pregnancy and breastfeeding are over.
Boosts Immune System
Most people focus on the thyroid gland implications of iodine, but it has other functions, including being a major booster of the immune system. It is a scavenger of free hydroxyl radicals, and 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 show that it directly protects the brain cells of rats from harmful effects of free radicals by connecting to fatty acids in the cell membranes, leaving less room for free radicals to affect the organism.
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 the body goes off track. One of the most common results of hypothyroidism is a large increase in the weight because the body simply doesn’t burn off the calories of food to turn them 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 which will help you lose the weight and fat, which is common in hypothyroid patients.
Some other effects of hypothyroidism are fatigue, dry skin, trouble concentrating, constipation, cramps, and leg swelling. If not treated, it can result in more serious conditions like heart failure or a coma.
Treats Fibrocystic Disease
Iodine can significantly reduce conditions like fibrosis, turgidity, and breast tenderness. It acts as a relief for fibrocystic diseases and is widely used in therapies, both, traditional and modern. Studies have shown a significant correspondence between molecular iodine and a reduction in the signs and symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease.
Reduces Risk of Cancer
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 its effects on inducing apoptosis in breast cancer carcinoma cells.
In terms of thyroid cancer, it 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.
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 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.
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 gastric cancer.
Iodine deficiency is widely recognized as the basic cause of Goiter. You should add eggs, salt, seafood, and dairy products to your diet to avoid this deficiency, and also, this often works as a cure for an enlarged thyroid gland.
Word of Caution: Iodine overdose of more than 2,000 mg could be dangerous, especially in people suffering from kidney disorders or tuberculosis. When taken in excess, it could result in thyroid papillary cancer, rather than helping to prevent it. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be cautious about taking this element, except in specifically prescribed doses. A healthy balance is required because different people’s bodies may react differently to the dose, so be careful while consuming.