It was nearly sixty years ago that iodine supplement made global news as a miracle cure. Single-handedly, it eliminated a disfiguring and potentially life threatening disease: goiter. This is because iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormone.
How Iodine Works
Approximately 64 percent of iodine-which amounts to about 8mg of iodine in total-is located in the thyroid gland in the neck, where it is used to make the two thyroid hormones tri-iodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones regulate the speed of the body's metabolism, including the rate at which calories are burned.
Iodine is also necessary for maintaining connective tissue in the body that make up tendons and ligaments, holds tissues together, and is crucial for the development of a growing fetus. It is also important for the intellectual development of the child.
The mineral selenium helps to convert iodine into the thyroid hormones; a lack of selenium levels in the body can reduce the effectiveness of this mineral in the diet. Vitamin A is also important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
Substances called glucosinolate progoitrin in cruciferous vegetables (especially in cabbage and turnips) prevent iodine absorption. Peanuts, cassava, and soy beans also block the action of iodine in the thyroid gland. The drug sulfonylurea, used in the the treatment of adult onset or Type II diabetes, and cobalt and lithium antidepressants all decrease iodine uptake. Fluorine bromine and chlorine may affect the way iodine is used by the body.
THERAPEUTIC USES OF IODINE
Swollen Thyroid Gland
A swollen thyroid gland, or goiter, is a symptom of iodine deficiency. If it is caused through a simple lack of iodine, modest amounts of supplements can help the swelling to reduce. Severe goiters require medical treatment with thyroxine or need to be surgically removed.
Women suffering with benign swelling and lumpiness of the breasts have shown improvement in both the associated pain and formation of benign cysts when iodine intakes are increased.
Low intakes of iodine appear to be related to precancerous lesions in the breast tissue that are corrected when iodine intakes are restored to normal levels.Weight Problem
Taking 100 percent of the RDA of iodine may help to improve the action of a sluggish thyroid gland and may also help to improve weight problems.
High intakes of iodine can lead to toxicity in the thyroid gland, resulting in swelling and possibly even cancer. Pregnant women should avoid high intakes of iodine, and acne sufferers may find the condition worsens when taking high levels of iodine supplements. Always check with your doctor before taking iodine supplements containing may than 100 percent of the RDA.
Why Take Iodine Supplements?
Diets poor in diary food and seafood may be in short supply of iodine. Regularly eating large amounts of raw cabbage may also put a strain on iodine levels.
Signs of low iodine levels include:
Cold Hands and Feet
Sudden or Unexplained Breast Pain
Enlarged Thyroid Gland in Neck
Iodized salt-table salt with iodine added-is the main food source of iodine. Seafood is naturally rich in iodine. Cod, sea bass, haddock, and perch are good sources. Kelp is the most common vegetable seafood that is a rich source of iodine. Dairy products also contain iodine. Other good sources are plants grown in iodine-rich soil.
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