Our understanding of iodine and its significance in human health has vastly expanded over the last while. An essential mineral, iodine is traditionally thought of in relationship to thyroid health. And, while it is an indispensable aspect of thyroid health, as we are about to learn, iodine is critical for many biological functions and in the health of numerous organs. We can begin to understand the importance as more and more health issues are being correlated to suboptimal iodine levels. In fact, iodine deficiency has been termed ““the hidden syndrome”. In today’s blog, we’re zooming out and getting to know iodine on a deeper level!
Why do we need iodine?
- The uses for iodine in the body are vast, and it essentially works to harmonize the body
- Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, but is it widely used by breast tissue, adrenal glands, the prostate, thymus, ovaries, hypothalamus, our gut, bones and the immune system
- As briefly mentioned, iodine is essential for thyroid health. It helps in the synthesis of thyroid hormones which are responsible for the regulation of metabolism- which has implications in everything from weight loss to energy
- It is needed to form the architecture of glands in the body like the ovaries and breast. When there isn’t enough iodine in these structures, an environment conducive to cyst formation gets created. Therefore, especially in females- iodine is imperative for health of the reproductive organs and health
- Iodine is not only necessary for reproductive health, but requirements increase during pregnancy as it plays a role in neuronal development
- The implications of iodine in a developed brain are not yet clear, however we suspect research will surface on the benefits as brain fog is a classic deficiency sign
- Moreover, we know that the use of iodine to support mental health is part for holistic strategy
- Iodine is used by every single cell in the body, and it helps each cell accept the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning
What Does Suboptimal Iodine Intake look Like?
Traditional symptoms of iodine deficiency are an enlarged thyroid (goitre) and a sluggish, under functioning thyroid (hypothyroid).
Other clues that iodine intake is on the lower end for normal biological functions to take place in the body are brain fog (the inability to think clear on a consistent basis), breast tenderness, puffiness around the eyes, cold hands and feet, dark circles under the eyes and acne.
If combined with a few of the aforementioned symptoms, fatigue and lethargy are also indicative of low iodine.
Don’t I get Enough Iodine?
When it comes to iodine, many are under the impression sufficient intake is obtained through consuming salt. Salt was fortified with iodine in the 1920’s to combat deficiency which was prominent at the time and is still fortified to this day.
So, if salt is fortified, why are most people living with suboptimal iodine levels and deficiency? A few reasons!
- Only white table salt is fortified. Many people have chosen to adopt se salt, pink Himalayan salt or even grey salt for added mineral content. These salts are not fortified, and they do not naturally contain significant amounts of iodine
- Most salt consumption in north America doesn’t come from salting our food, but rather from the intake of processed foods, which are made with unfortified salt
- The use of table salt is something most people are cautioned about and due to misconceptions around heart disease risk increasing with salt intake, many are not getting the benefits of fortified salt
- Since the RDA for iodine is lower than the ideal intake of iodine, consuming salt can help to close the gap on deficiency. However, due to the ratio of iodine present in salt, it’s not a possibility to get all the iodine we need from salt alone.
Aside from these, are some other reasons our body might not be getting enough iodine independent of salt intake.
- Iodine comes from the ocean, and in previous times it was found in sufficient amounts in the soil in coastal communities.
However, due to depleted mineral content of soil worldwide, for a variety of biological reasons- mineral content, including iodine is at an all-time low
- A well-functioning liver is required for optimal iodine levels in the body. When the liver become overburdened, detoxification pathways become overwhelmed and there is a higher chemical load in the body.
These chemicals bind to the same receptors as iodine and normally win, forcing iodine out of the body
- Heavy metals in the body, a trend that is on the rise are a large driver for iodine deficiency because iodine is needed in the neutralization and removal of heavy metals
Do you Get Enough Iodine?
Having enough iodine is important, however, there is such thing as too much iodine. It’s not of those nutrients that we want to over-do.Health professionals generally recommend a modest dose of 1-3 drops for everyday use. We advise to check with your healthcare practitioner to determine your individual need and dose. However, there is a way that you can determine if iodine is right for you- it’s called the iodine patch test.
The Patch Test
The patch test is intended to measure the extent to which a person needs iodine. While it doesn’t replace a doctor’s recommendation or lab testing, it is a simple tool that provides valuable information.
- Apply a couple drops of iodine to your inner wrist, inner thigh or stomach and rub it in
- Keep an eye on the patch of skin for the next 12 hours
- As a general rule, the quicker the iodine absorbs, the more deficient you are
- If it absorbs fully within the 12 hours, we can assume the body is lacking in iodine
If iodine is lacking, incorporating supplemental iodine into our health routine can bring about positive change in the body.
Nascent iodine is a highly absorbable form easily used by the body. TruHope iodine is our go-to for quality and results. Learn more about TruHope Nascent Iodine here.
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin
Disclaimer: This blog is meant to serve as educational content only and is not medical advice. Always check with your doctor or healthcare provider when starting a new supplement or adjusting the dose.