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Six Important Things to Know About Iodine and Thyroid Health

Iodine is a trace element that is essential to human health. Unfortunately, like many other vital nutrients, our bodies are unable to produce it on their own. This means that we have to get all the iodine we need from the food we eat. Since iodine is not available from many food sources, it has been added to certain basic food products as a beneficial supplement; you may have seen packages of table salt that mention iodine. This increased availability helps ensure that everyone gets enough iodine to maintain health.

However, some people might require a little extra iodine or they might need to seriously restrict the amount of salt in their diet. Because iodine plays such a vital role in the function of the thyroid gland, people with thyroid trouble may have been told by their doctor to look into iodine supplementation. Understanding a few things about the thyroid gland and its role in your body will help you recognize the important benefits of iodine and thyroid health.

  1. We only need a very small amount of iodine each day, but it is essential to our health. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of this trace element is just 150 micrograms (mcg) each day. This is an amount less than 1/6th of a gram. Although the RDA for this nutrient is very small, especially when compared with the RDA for other essential nutrients, iodine’s role in maintaining health is so vital that we cannot afford to be without it for long.

  1. The thyroid gland is responsible for several important functions; iodine helps it work correctly. The thyroid gland is located near the base of the neck. It is just one part of the human endocrine system, the physical system that helps regulate hormone production and distribution. When there is a problem with any single aspect of the endocrine system, the health of the entire body can suffer. People with endocrine problems may experience:

  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Difficulty staying awake during the day

  • Low energy levels

  • Skin problems

  • Trouble losing or gaining weight

  • Irregular menstrual cycles

When we get enough iodine every day, our thyroid gland is able to work to its fullest capacity. However, it can be surprisingly challenging to get even the small amount of iodine we need each day.

  1. Iodine supplementation in food is not always consistent. Iodine deficiency was identified in the first half of the twentieth century. In reaction to this concerning problem, small amounts of iodine were added table salt and to bread flour. Although iodine supplemented bread flour was eventually discontinued, for many years iodine was consistently added to table salt by salt production companies. For better or worse, this addition has also tapered off. Because more people than ever are concerned about minimizing their salt intake, another epidemic of iodine deficiency may be developing even now. Thanks to high quality supplements like those available from Purmedica, it is possible to receive an optimal amount of iodine without having to worry about getting it from a limited array of dietary choices.

  1. Iodine deficiency is a growing global health concern that may continue to affect us for generations to come. Given that iodine is not widely available through food alone, it might not be surprising to learn that many places around the world consider iodine deficiency to be the next potential regional health concern. Lack of food diversity, uncertain access to food, and even factors such as poor soil could be the driving factors of global iodine deficiency. Taking steps to combat this problem at home and around the world is important. Iodine is especially important for pregnant and nursing mothers and for children.

  1. Infertility is linked to low iodine levels in women. Since the endocrine system plays an important role in regulating the body’s hormonal balance, any disruption to this system is likely to have a related disruption in hormone-related functions. In women, an endocrine system disruption can lead to slow ovulation cycles, which can seriously impact a couple’s chances of getting pregnant. A slow or stalled ovulation cycle results in infertility. A couple might go through a lot of heartache and difficulty trying to address matters of feminine infertility before uncovering this single missing piece. Infertility is a complex concern that might be affected rom any number of physical or environmental causes. Eliminating iodine deficiency will help a couple address infertility in a more direct manner.

  1. Iodine plays an important role in the defense against radiation poisoning. Protecting the body’s major organs and glands is a priority during a radiation emergency. Iodine, and specifically potassium, is administered to patients following exposure to radiation to protect the thyroid gland. There are a number of potassium iodine tablets on the market. However, these tablets should only be used following exposure to dangerously high levels of radiation; they cannot be used to prevent sickness or to protect the body in anticipation of radiation exposure.