Iodine is a fairly rare element in nature. While it’s found in large quantities in the ocean and is present in soil, it’s very low in many places around the world, including the soil in the United States. But iodine is essential to life, and is detected in every organ and tissue. It’s crucial for brain development in children, plays a central role in healthy function of the thyroid gland, and facilitates an efficient metabolism.
Over the past 40 years in the developed world, iodine deficiency has increased more than fourfold, with nearly 74 percent of normal, “healthy” adults thought to no longer consume enough of this important element.
Why We Are Deficient In Iodine
1. Bromine, found in baked goods, plastics, soft drinks, medications, pesticides, and more, makes its way into our lives in one way or another every single day, but it displaces iodine.
2. You may also not be eating enough iodine-rich foods, like eggs, fish, sea vegetables, and iodized salt. In fact, in 2008, researchers analyzed 88 samples of iodized table salt, which is the main supply of iodine for most people, and found that less than half of those tested had amounts of the micronutrient sufficient for optimal health.
3. Soil depletion is another issue. Glaciation, flooding, and erosion of depleted surface soils of iodine are further leaching many regions, and most iodine is found in the oceans. Iodine is supposed to go through a cycling process, in which the iodine in seawater oxidizes to elemental iodine, volatilizes into the atmosphere, and then returns to the soil by way of rain.
But this cycling is often slow and incomplete in many regions, resulting in soils and drinking water depleted of iodine. The crops grown in these areas will also be low in iodine, causing iodine deficiency among both humans and animals.
4. It’s also been found that fluoride exposure aggravates iodine deficiency. While you may not knowingly come into contact with fluoride, it’s likely you still do every single day, whether you’re taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or drinking water. Iodine is the basic building block of the T3 and T4 hormones, and is therefore essential for proper thyroid functioning.
But research continues to reveal that fluoride worsens iodine deficiency, which, during infancy and early childhood, for example, can result in brain damage, including mental retardation.
Signs You Have An Iodine Deficiency
1. Slowed brain function is correlated with iodine deficiency. A 2009 study even found that iodine supplementation in mildly-deficient children helped to improve their perceptual reasoning.
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2. A lack of iodine can reduce the body’s ability to biosynthesize food into usable nutrients. This can result in a slowed metabolism, weight gain, and constipation.
3. An iodine deficiency can compromise your immune system, causing you to catch colds and flus more often. This happens because a lack of iodine leaves us susceptible to free radical exposure, particularly in the thyroid gland.
4. Since an iodine deficiency is linked to hormone imbalance, it can disrupt proper function and communication of hormone receptors, resulting in emotional imbalances such as anxiety.
5. Because research has found that iodine supplements can improve fibrocystic breast disease, it is speculated that an iodine deficiency can cause cysts, soreness, and heaviness in breasts.
6. Iodine deficiency may also inhibit the body’s organs from detoxifying, which can lead to overall organ failure.
7. One of the most common signs of iodine deficiency is improper thyroid function. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine discovered a connection between iodine intake and thyroid disease — a condition which can result in a plethora of symptoms that include: fatigue, exhaustion, puffy eyes, digestive upset, muscle pain, depression, weight gain, swelling in the body, menstrual upset, fuzzy head, memory impairment, allergic skin reactions, dry skin, brittle nails, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, and high cholesterol.
How To Increase Your Levels Of Iodine
1. To optimize your levels of iodine naturally, you need to be extremely mindful of your diet. You should be consuming toxin-free spirulina and sea vegetables harvested from uncontaminated waters. Other foods that contain iodine include cheese, cow’s milk, eggs, iodized table salt, saltwater fish, seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori), shellfish, and yogurt.
2. You should also try to avoid bromine as much as possible. To do so, eat organic foods, wash all produce thoroughly, and minimize your pesticide exposure. Try to avoid eating or drinking from plastic containers, and instead opt for glass or ceramic. Avoid sodas in favour of natural, filtered water. You should choose whole-grain breads and flour. Furthermore, look for labels on commercial baked goods that state that the product is free of bromine.
3. If you have a hot tub, avoid chemical treatments by using an ozone purification system.
4. Opt for personal care products that are free of toxic chemicals.
Don’t Take Too Much Iodine
While it’s becoming increasingly clear that the majority of us need to consume more iodine, it’s important not to overdo it, either, as taking too much iodine can also be harmful.
For instance, for people who already have thyroid problems, like nodules, hyperthyroidism, and autoimmune thyroid disease, consuming large amounts of iodine through medications as well as through diet can worsen these conditions.
Furthermore, individuals who move from iodine-deficient regions to adequate iodine regions may also develop thyroid problems because their thyroids have become accustomed to taking up and using small amounts of iodine. These people may develop iodine-induced hyperthyroidism as a result.
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