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Iodine

What is Iodine?

The thyroid plays an essential role in the human body which includes cell reproduction, general nerves functioning, metabolism, growth and how cellular oxygen use. Iodine is a trace mineral that the body requires in order to produce the thyroid hormones it needs to carry out these very important functions. As a chemical element, iodine cannot be naturally produced by the human body, but must be consumed through a balanced diet. While the majority of the body’s iodine supply is stored in the thyroid gland, small amounts can also be located in the muscles and blood.

What does Iodine do?

Once iodine is ingested, it works to synthesize a variety of thyroid hormones that the body uses to regulate growth, temperature, cell production and overall metabolism. If the thyroid does not have a sufficient amount of iodine to produce these hormones, individuals may end up with goiter or hypothyroidism. Goiter happens when the thyroid gland swells in an effort to produce hormones without the necessary iodine present in the system. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid cannot produce the necessary hormones for body regulation.

Where is Iodine found?

Iodine must be consumed through food and today, is most commonly present in iodized salt which is used to flavor foods. While some dairy products contain small amounts of iodine, seafood naturally contains iodine and a few iodine-rich products include sea bass and perch. Plants that are grown in soil that is infused with iodine are particularly helpful when it comes to maintaining a balanced diet that includes iodine. Other foods that contain iodine may include: cod, cow’s milk, navy beans, prawns as well as tuna that has been canned in oil. Physicians often advise that the best way to ensure a balanced level of iodine is to follow a balanced and healthy diet base on the nutritional pyramid.

What happens when someone has a Iodine deficiency?

Iodine deficiencies are particularly severe as they can lead to dangerous medical conditions. When iodine levels are low, the thyroid is not able to produce the proper hormones to regulate important body functions such as growth and metabolism. Iodine deficiencies in pregnant women can lead to certain forms of mental disabilities in a child, as well as severe hypothyroidism.

Additionally, individuals who do not consume enough iodine are placed at a higher risk for developing certain types of thyroid cancer or breast diseases. Those at risk for these conditions should consider consulting a doctor about iodine supplements. While it is not known exactly why, iodine deficiencies seem to be much more prevalent in woman than in men.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Iodine

On the alternative side of iodine deficiency is the risk that is posed when individuals consume too much iodine. Higher than necessary levels of iodine can cause severe medical problems which include stomach irritation, swelling of the heart, blood disease and hypersensitivity.

Where an iodine deficiency can cause hypothyroidism, too much iodine can cause hyperthyroidism. This occurs when the thyroid over-produces hormones for the body causing excessive metabolic processes. This can lead to severe weight loss, digestive issues, weakness and insomnia.

 

Iodine – AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Micrograms per Day
110
130

 

Iodine – RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances)

Children
1-3 years
4-8 years
Micrograms per Day
90
90
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

120
150
150
150
150
150
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

120
150
150
150
150
150
Pregnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

220
220
220
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

290
290
290

 

Sources:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002421.htm
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-35-Iodine.aspx?activeIngredientId=35&activeIngredientName=Iodine&source=1
http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/minerals/iodine.html
http://nutrition.about.com/od/mineralglossary/g/iodine.htm
USDA Dietary Reference Intakes