What Role Does Iodine Play in Our Health?
The mineral iodine plays a very important role in our health. One of its most important jobs is to create thyroid hormones. Iodine is not produced by the body; therefore, we must get it through our diets. What happens if we are lacking iodine? Your body can’t produce thyroid hormones. This can lead to enlargement of the thyroid (called goiter), hypothyroidism, and even complications in infants being born with mental and growth problems. Iodine deficiency is an epidemic that has happened throughout history and is occurring today.
An Old Epidemic, Now a Modern One
Prior to the 1920’s, iodine deficiency was a problem that occurred in the Great Lakes, the Appalachian and Northwestern U.S. regions and most of Canada. This area even became known as ‘the goiter belt’. Goiter’s (an enlarged thyroid) were common, until manufacturers began to add iodine in salt (which is why you will see the words “iodized salt” on the box of salt today). This addition of iodine to our diets ended the goiter epidemic of this time.
However, a modern epidemic of iodine deficiency has since occurred. Psychology Today states two reasons why iodine deficiency may be an epidemic again:
- Bad Medical Advice
Reason #1: Bromide
Previously, we were able to get about a quarter of the iodine in our diets from wheat. This was because iodine was used as an ingredient in flour. Today, iodine has been replaced by bromide in the production of flour. Bromide not only replaces iodine, but it may also block the activity of iodine.
According to Psychology Today, bromide has also been classified as a Class 2B carcinogen and has even been banned in countries such as the United Kingdom (1990) and Canada (1994). But it is still legal in the United States, even though the FDA has been petitioned to ban it.
Reason #2: Bad Medical Advice
Not only is iodine being replaced by bromide, but people are consuming less and less salt due to ill-advised medical advice. People aren’t buying iodized table salt to cook at home anymore and are avoiding salt. The result? From 1971 to 2001, iodine intakes in the U.S. dropped by 50% (source).
What happens if I Have an Iodine Deficiency?
Now that you know that we may be experiencing another iodine deficiency epidemic, you may be wondering why does this all matter? Below are some of the effects that iodine deficiency can have on our health:
- Thyroid problems: increased risk of both an under-active and overactive thyroid.
- Breast cysts and breast cancer: Women with breast cancer have lower iodine levels in their breast tissue than women without cancer
- Connection to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fatigue: studies have shown that people who took a daily dose of 1, 500 micrograms of iodine, felt more energetic and better
- Weight gain
- Pregnancy-related problems: Severe iodine deficiency has been associated with miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm delivery, congenital abnormalities and mental retardation.
How do I Know if I Have an Iodine Deficiency?
The following symptoms may be a sign of iodine deficiency:
- Breast cysts, tenderness or breast cancer.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, or unexplained fatigue.
- Thyroid problems: May experience an enlarged thyroid (goiter). Patients with a large goiter may experience symptoms of choking or difficulty swallowing and breathing.
- Low body temperature (under 98 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Hypothyroidism: iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism.
- Take a supplement which contains iodine such as i-THROID which contains iodine and supports the healthy function of the thyroid gland.
- Alter your diet to include iodine. The table below has a list of foods high in iodine to include in your diet.
|Sources of Dietary Iodine|
The Bottom Line…
If you’re experiencing extreme fatigue, you should add an iodine multivitamin or supplement to your diet for 3 months and monitor your condition for improvement. Chances are, it will help you feel more energetic. If after 3 months, you feel better, you know that you had an iodine deficiency.