Iodine: The Complete Guide to Iodine Health Benefits

“I went from an energetic, thin active person to feeling sluggish, gaining weight, and feeling unwell in general,” says Diane S, a paraprofessional who works for a school in Ohio. Her elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels suggested hypothyroidism, an under-functioning thyroid gland. Even after her doctor put her on the artificial thyroid hormone Synthroid, her symptoms did not improve, and she had side effects from the drug. Although hypothyroidism has various causes, iodine deficiency is one of them. “I researched the internet and ordered Detoxadine® [a nascent iodine supplement]. Within weeks my symptoms improved. I have more energy and feel my health improving.” Now she only uses the natural iodine supplement and feels great! Iodine is an essential nutrient that regulates metabolism, and without enough, people can experience low energy, weight gain, dry skin, and other conditions.

What Is Iodine?

A chemical element with the atomic number 53 and symbol I, iodine occurs as a purple-black solid or a purple vapor when a gas. It has 37 known isotopes, and all are radioactive except I-127, the form found in food and supplements. Iodine is a trace element because of its rarity. The human body requires iodine but does not produce it; hence it is also called an essential nutrient. This means people must eat foods high in iodine or take supplements to avoid iodine deficiency. The body uses iodine to create thyroid hormones, which affect brain development and function, metabolism, and other body processes.

What’s the difference between iodine and iodide? When iodine occurs as a single ion, it is called iodide, whether it’s alone as I- or bound to another element. As a negative ion or anion, I- likes to bind with positively-charged ions, like potassium or K+ which forms KI, potassium iodide. The Iodine Crisis: Wha... Lynne Farrow Best Price: $11.50 Buy New $15.00 (as of 10:30 UTC - Details)

Where Is Iodine Used in the Body?

The body uses iodine to create thyroid hormones, which affect brain development and function, metabolism, and other processes. Although thyroid hormones are found throughout the body, elemental iodine can only be absorbed by thyroid and breast tissue cells via a “sodium-iodide symporter” molecule. The thyroid, a bow-tie shaped gland in the neck, takes up iodine from the blood and creates two hormones, T3 (Triiodothyronine) and T4 (Thyroxine).

T3 has three and T4 has four molecules of iodine (or technically iodide). Every cell in the body requires the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 to create energy. T4 is created from the amino acid tyrosine and regulates how much T3 is produced. T3 plays a more prominent role in metabolism.

Top 10 Iodine Health Benefits

Iodine has many therapeutic uses and provides many benefits, no matter your age. The most critical function of iodine, via thyroid hormones, is childhood brain development, but iodine also plays a role in heart, kidney, and liver health throughout life.[1] Below are the top ten health benefits that iodine offers.

  • Helps form thyroid hormones
  • Supports fetal and child brain development
  • Promotes mental wellness
  • Boosts metabolism and energy
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Creates healthy skin and nails
  • Removes harmful halogens
  • Counteracts radiation
  • Needed for first aid
  • Promotes female health

1. Necessary for Thyroid Hormone Production

The number one role of iodine in the body is the production of thyroid hormones. As a result, most of the body’s iodine is concentrated in the thyroid. The pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid how much T3 and T4 to produce. Stress can increase the production of TSH, which affects how much T3 and T4 are produced, affecting metabolism. The hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, produces a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) that also affects the production of thyroid hormones. Ensuring a healthy supply of iodine is important for a healthy thyroid.

2. Essential for Childhood Brain Development

According to the World Health Organization, iodine deficiency is the number one cause of preventable mental and intellectual disabilities around the world. Pregnant women need more iodine than usual because this mineral is necessary for proper brain development of the unborn child. A breastfeeding woman needs even more iodine to ensure she gets enough for herself and her baby. Even in the U.S. and other developed nations, many pregnant women are iodine-deficient, which can lower the child’s IQ and mental aptitude.[12] The most critical phase of brain development is during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, but iodine supports healthy brain function throughout life.

3. Supports Mental Wellness Through Life

Iodine and thyroid hormones play a crucial role in supporting brain function, including mental wellness and mood. Some studies have linked developmental conditions, such as ADHD and autism to low iodine during pregnancy or childhood.[3] Healthcare providers increasingly understand the role of using nutrition to encourage mental health because of connections between the gut, mental wellness, and the immune system.[45,6] The role the thyroid has on adult psychiatric conditions remains unclear,[78] but given iodine’s critical role in brain development, ensuring an adequate supply for overall mental wellness is a good idea.

4. Boosts Metabolism and Energy

The thyroid gland controls metabolism; some people call it the master gland. People with hypothyroidism — low thyroid function – generally experience weight gain, which can also lead to sluggish feelingsbrain fog, and low energy. Low iodine levels, genetics, and other conditions can cause hypothyroidism. People with hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid – often have trouble gaining weight. An overactive thyroid produces too much of the T3 and T4 hormones, which usurps all the body’s iodine, so sometimes supplementing with iodine helps, even though it seems counterintuitive. However, check with your healthcare provider.

5. Stimulates the Immune System

Iodine can clean up and destroy most types of harmful organisms.[9] Because of this, medical professionals use it to clean wounds and prepare you for some surgeries. But these properties can also benefit your immune system. Iodine helps defend against harmful cells, a process called apoptosis.[10]Iodine also acts as an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals in the body.[11]

6. Promotes Healthy Hair and Skin

It’s clear that getting adequate iodine in your diet plays a role in ensuring healthy skin, nails, and hair. In animal studies, iodine deficiency was linked to a lack of hair growth. Individuals born with cretinism have less hair than normal and thick, dry skin.[12] People with low iodine may experience dry skin.[13] Some people, particularly adolescents, may get acne after consuming iodine-rich foods especially dairy (which gets its iodine from iodine-antiseptics used to clean dairy farming equipment).[14]

7. Detoxes the Body of Halogens OPTIMOX Iodoral IOD 12... Buy New $28.99 (as of 09:55 UTC - Details)

Elemental iodine falls within the halogen group on the periodic table of elements. The halogen group also includes chlorine, fluorine, and bromine. People use chlorine to disinfect pool water, but it can irritate the lungs, eyes, and skin.[15] Although it’s commonly added to public water supplies, fluoride (a form of fluorine) disrupts the way enzymes operate in the body, affecting cellular function, cell signaling, and the stress response.[16] Scientists have linked brominated flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers; PBDEs) to brain and thyroid dysfunction, preterm birth, and more.[10] These halogens are taken up by the thyroid, since they are chemically similar, preventing iodine from entering thyroid cells.[17] Saturating the thyroid with iodine promotes detoxification by prompting it to release undesirable halogens. It can also purge the system of toxic metals since iodine binds to such elements in the body.

8. Protects the Thyroid From Radiation

When nuclear emergencies arise, I-131, a dangerous radioactive form of iodine, is released into the atmosphere where it can be taken up by the thyroid gland. To prevent this, governments and medical professionals provide non-radioactive iodine in the form of potassium iodide (KI). If given at high enough doses – hundreds of times the normal dose – the good iodine saturates the thyroid gland, preventing the radioactive isotopes from entering. The dose is repeated once daily until the threat is gone.[18]

9. Must-Have for First Aid

Iodine has a long history as a must-have tool for first aid, and you will find iodine packets in most first aid kits. These are typically povidone-iodine solution on a small towelette and used topically to cleanse wounds. Some first aid kits also include iodine crystal tablets for treating water in emergency conditions. Iodine tablets provide a faster method of water treatment compared with boiling.

10. Supports Women’s Health

Iodine plays a crucially important role in supporting women’s health. In addition to the support it provides to the brain, bones, and organ development of a baby during a woman’s pregnancy, it helps with women’s reproductive health and breast health. Studies show that moderate iodine deficiencies may reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant.[19] Severe iodine deficiencies may also lead to miscarriage. Even mildly low iodine levels in pregnant women are linked with greater oxidative stress – a reduction in the body’s ability to break down free radicals – which leads to complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and preterm birth.[20]

Iodine-deficiency is also a risk factor for developing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), in which cysts or benign growths develop in the ovaries. This condition starts off harmless but may affect hormone balance. Like thyroid tissue, breast tissue absorbs iodine, and breast conditions and iodine deficiencies may be connected.[1021] Women with low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) also may experience water retention, which leads to puffy, swollen skin.

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