What Is Iodine?
Iodine is a relatively rare element of the earth’s crust (ranking 47th in abundance). The fact that most soils contain very little iodine has led to widespread deficiencies in both human and animal populations. Iodine, however, is more concentrated in seawater and vegetables that grow in seawater.
The main biological role of iodine in the body is to support the functioning of the thyroid gland and thyroid hormones. The thyroid is crucial in regulating that basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which the body digests and metabolizes nutrients from foods. Without this function important cellular activity is decreased and/or stopped.
Major deficiencies of iodine have been shown to cause goiters (enlargement of the thyroid gland) as well as mental retardation. A lack of iodine is also suspected in the formation of certain kinds of cancers, including breast cancer and stomach cancer.
Signs That You May Need More Iodine
There are several indicators that you may need to supplement your iodine intake. If you experience any of the following you may want to get yourself checkout out for Iodine. This can be done by any good natural health care professional or by using a simple at home test.
- Unexplainable weight gain (not due to a change in diet or lifestyle)
- Sudden onset of depression
- Fatigue or chronic fatigue
- Weakness of muscles
What Are The Recommended Daily Intakes for Iodine?
Iodine should not be taken in excess. If you take too much it can be toxic – although getting too much through food sources is probably unlikely. For this reason I’m including both the recommended minimum and maximum daily allowances for iodine here.
In 2000, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences developed new Dietary Reference Intakes for iodine. Adequate Intakes were established for children up to one year old, and Recommended Dietary Allowances were determined for all people over one year old.
mcg = microgram. 1 mcg is equivalent to 1/1000 of a milligram or one one millionth (1/1,000,000) of a gram.
- 0-6 months: 110 mcg
- 7-12 months: 130 mcg
- 1-8 years: 90 mcg
- Boys 9-13 years: 120 mcg
- Girls 9-13 years: 120 mcg
- Boys 14-18 years: 150 mcg
- Girls 14-18 years: 150 mcg
- Men 19 years and older: 150 mcg
- Women 19 years and older: 150 mcg
- Pregnant women 14 years and older: 220 mcg
- Lactating women 14 years and older: 290 mcg
In an attempt to prevent iodine toxicity, the Institute of Medicine established the following Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for iodine:
- 1-3 years: 900 mcg
- 4-8 years: 300 mcg
- 9-13 years: 600 mcg
- 14-18 years: 900 mcg
- 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
- Pregnant women 14-18 years: 900 mcg
- Pregnant women 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
- Lactating women 14-18 years: 900 mcg
- Lactating women 19 years and older: 1,100 mcg
What Are The Best Natural Iodine Supplements and Iodine Rich Foods?
The best naturally occurring sources of iodine are found in sea vegetables. Milk and dairy products are also sometimes mentioned as good sources. But this only applies if the cows in question have been fed iodine supplements. This is usually the case in the U.S. and other western countries, but not necessarily. It’s a good idea to find out if you plan to use dairy products for iodine. High quality multivitamins may also contain proper levels of iodine.
Iodine Rich Foods
|Food Source||Amount||mcg of Iodine|
|Kelp - Sea Vegetable||1 gram||150|
|Dulse - Sea Vegetable||1 gram||150|
|Wakame - Sea Vegetable||1 gram||79|
|Iodized Salt||1.5 grams||71|
|Maca Powder||10 grams||56|
|Yogurt||50 grams (1/2 cup)||45|
|Cow's Milk||50 grams (1/2 cup)||30|
Other Helpful Tips About Getting The Most Out of Iodine
A few other tips when it comes to iodine. If you think you have an iodine deficiency or a thyroid that is not fully functioning you should avoid these foods that can interfere with the absorption of iodine:
There are two forms of iodine: iodine 127 (safe, natural dietary iodine) and iodine 131 (a harmful, radioactive byproduct of nuclear energy). Your body absorbs and retains any kind of iodine to which it is exposed. Most of it is deposited in your thyroid gland or breast tissues. These are the two places that use the highest amounts of iodine.
If you spend time in a spa or hot tub, be aware that using chloride or bromide to kill bacteria can also lower your iodine levels. Also know that bromine is an ingredient in pesticides and eating foods sprayed with it can have the same effect. Eat organic!
Herbs such as Maca or Ginseng are well know adaptogens – substances that help normalize various bodily functions – adapting to what your body needs in a given moment. Iodine also appears to have the same effect and may just be the ultimate adaptogen.
Finally – Iodine Supplements and Radiation
You may have heard about taking iodine tablets as protection against radioactive iodine 131. These are meant to prevent you thyroid gland from uptaking iodine 131 during a fallout situation and thereby prevent thyroid cancer. Local authorities should advise residents if this is necessary.
And still using the information here you can choose to keep your body’s level of iodine at health promoting levels using natural iodine supplements and iodine rich foods. It’s a great long term health strategy.