The body’s hormonal system is a complex, and often confusing, structure. Because it is such a complicated system, seemingly small elements can end up having great impact. One of these important pieces is iodine. Without this water-soluble mineral, the thyroid would be incapable of producing the required hormones necessary in regulating the impressive number of bodily functions that fall under its responsibility. In the spirit of Thyroid Awareness Month, let’s examine the mineral essential for healthy thyroid activity: iodine.
What is Iodine For?
Iodine is considered by some to be the single best nutrient for improving thyroid function and health. This is not surprising as it is a primary piece in the production of thyroid hormones. With adequate iodine levels, the body converts it into iodide which is then oxidized in the thyroid and incorporated into hormones. These hormones are used in the construction of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Both the active form (T3) and stored form (T4) are absolutely essential for thyroid function. After production of these hormones, they remain in the thyroid until they are prompted to enter the bloodstream. Inadequate iodine levels stall the entire process, leaving the thyroid to be ineffective. Poor thyroid function can lead to weight fluctuations, poor mental activity, and an erratic metabolism.
Where to Find Iodine
Because iodine is neither produced by or stored in the body, it must be sought out externally. The primary means one acquires iodine is through their diet; supplementation is also fairly common. Iodine is most prevalent in sea life. Incorporating the following foods into one’s diet is an excellent way to obtain iodine:
- Saltwater Fish
- Organic Potatoes
- Organic Cheddar Cheese
- Navy Beans
Food in the United States may provide more iodine than expected because it is often added to water, medications, salt and breads. Unfortunately, even with fortification of foods, many are still not maintaining healthy iodine levels. If one does not eat many mineral-rich foods, like those listed above, they are at a greater risk of iodine deficiency.
Various aspects of one’s lifestyle or environment can negatively impact iodine levels. Regular exposure to toxic halides (bromine, fluoride, and chlorine derivatives) can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb iodine, thereby causing a deficiency. With reduced levels comes an inability to produce thyroid hormone and reduced activation of thyroid hormone in cells. Decreased production and poor utilization is a significantly detrimental combination in regards to one’s overall health.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from the Center for Disease Control, individual iodine levels have dropped over 50% in the last 40 years. This information alone shows that diet, even with the iodized foods, is often not enough. There are a variety of reasons as to why this reduction in iodine levels could have occurred such as: increased exposure to toxins, poor dietary choices, and misinformation.
Imagined Facts of Iodine
There is a relatively prevalent belief that iodine is a dangerous toxin that should be avoided whenever possible. In excess, iodine can indeed be detrimental to one’s health, but this can be said about almost any mineral or substance in the body. Unfortunately, this false belief has prompted many to evade consumption of this necessary mineral. Iodine is also wrongly misconstrued as a thyroid inhibitor. As previously stated, iodine is actually required for proper production of thyroid hormone. Perceiving iodine as a thyroid hinder-er rather than a beneficial mineral is detrimental to one’s health.
Some believe that salt is the only source of iodine required to maintain healthy levels. Although iodization of salt has been highly beneficial, relying on it as the sole provider for one’s daily allotment is foolish. On average, Americans consume 4-10 grams of refined salt containing 77ug (micrograms) of iodide per gram of salt. This sounds like a lot on the surface but research has shown that only 10% of iodine in salt is bioavailable for utilization in the body. Even though there is much debate on the recommended daily allowance of iodine, based on average consumption, relying on salt as the only source will leave one at sub-optimal levels.
Environmental factors and dietary restrictions may cause one to be less receptive to iodine. Even if one alters their dietary practices to include more iodine rich foods, one may still experience a deficiency. Studies have shown an increase in the prevalence of hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Graves’ Disease and thyroid cancer that may be related to reduced iodine levels. With the notable drop in individual iodine concentrations in the past 40 years it is more important than before to maintain proper iodine levels and supplementation can help.
Using an iodine supplement, such as Thyrodine produced by HoltraCeuticals, can help support one’s thyroid. Testing has showed that 80% of individuals have sub-optimal iodine levels. By incorporating an iodine supplement into one’s diet, they can experience improved thyroid functionality and enhanced thyroid hormone formation. If there is any concern of poor thyroid activity, it may be highly beneficial to pursue iodine supplementation.
Cautions and Concerns
Excess ingestion of iodine can instigate onset of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis or thyroid imbalances. Monitoring one’s iodine level is important in order to avoid over-consumption. Speak with a physician before beginning iodine supplementation.
I Scream for Iodine
Understanding that iodine is beneficial to one’s health is critical. Those with thyroid conditions may see impressive improvements when increasing their iodine intake via their diet or supplementation. Celebrate thyroid health this month by raising awareness and experiencing the benefits of iodine!