Iodine is trace element but extremely essential mineral required by body for its normal growth and development. Iodine was one of the first minerals to be recognized as vital for human body. Iodine is vital for functioning of thyroid gland which controls hormonal system and influence metabolic process in body. Amongst various health benefits of iodine, some include increase fertility, weight loss, concentration, detoxification of body.
Health benefits of Iodine
Iodine is required to ensure proper development and metabolism in human beings. Some of health benefits of iodine include:
Thyroid gland and Iodine
The health benefits of iodine play a very important role in the normal functioning of the thyroid glands, which secretes thyroid hormones that control the basic metabolic rate of the body. Improper functioning of thyroid gland leads to various disorders. About 25 mg of iodine is present in adult human body. Most of it is concentrated in thyroid gland where it is stored in form of thyroglobulin, a complex protein and iodine. About 30% is removed by the thyroid gland for the synthesis of thyroid hormone – thyroxine. There is a complex relationship between iodine and the thyroid gland. Hormones secreted by Thyroid gland are responsible for regulating body basic metabolism rate. The hormones, like thyroxin and triodothyronine, influence heart rate, blood pressure, body weight and temperature. According to WHO, over 1 billion people on earth suffer from lack of iodine in diet. Another estimate is that over quarter of population of Latin America risk from goiter, a thyroid gland disorder resulting from iodine deficiency. Goitre has been known since prehistoric times. In middle ages, centuries before Iodine itself was discovered, physicians from Europe treated goiter with burnt sponge, substance rich in iodine.
Cognitive function during childhood
Iodine plays very important role in early childhood in development of brain and nervous system. Even effects of mild deficiency could lead to subtle neurological problems. Iodized salt is recommended in iodine deficient areas to improve physical and mental strength of children.
Iodine helps weight loss
Health benefits of iodine include its role in regulating metabolism and maintaining optimal energy levels in body without resulting in fat deposits.
Iodine helps removal of toxins
Iodine helps removal of unwanted substances and toxic material from body. Iodine flushes out chemical toxins like fluoride, lead, mercury etc., apart from biological toxins and can strengthen immune system. It also prevents the proliferation of harmful bacteria in the stomach.
Iodine benefits for hair
The health benefits of iodine include maintaining health hair. It not only prevents hair loss but also promotes hair growth.
Pregnancy and Iodine
Iodine helps in the normal growth and maturity of reproductive organs. Adequate intake of iodine is essential for women during pregnancy. Iodine is essential for proper growth and development of baby. Breast fed infants get iodine from breast milk, hence it is necessary that nursing mothers have adequate iodine intake. Severe iodine deficiency in the mother has been associated with miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and congenital abnormalities in their babies. Children of mothers with severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy can develop retarded growth of brain and have hearing or speech problem. Cretinism (a syndrome characterized by permanent brain damage, mental retardation, deaf mutism, spasticity, and short stature) is found in severe iodine deficiency. Congenital hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of mental retardation in the world. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be cautious not to take iodine more than the prescribed dosage.
Iodine treats Fibrocystic breast disease
Iodine provides relief for fibrocystic diseases and reduces condition like fibrosis, turgidity, breast tenderness, lumpy and painful breasts.
Iodine cures Cancer
One of the most important health benefits of iodine is its anti-cancer properties. Studies have established health benefits of iodine in treatment of cancer cells. Some studies show that it lowers incidences of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.
Other health benefits of Iodine
It reduces lipoprotein in blood and thus reduces plaque and clotting of arteries. It is known to aid digestion and help in constipation. Some studies show that iodine may reduce occurrence of Parkinsons disease and gluacoma.
Sources of Iodine
Seafood is rich in Iodine. Marine plants and animals absorb iodine from seawater. Fish, seaweed, shrimp, and other seafood are rich in iodine. Garlic, lima beans, Swiss chard, summer squash, sesame seeds, soybeans, turnip greens and spinach are rich in iodine. Fruits and vegetables grown in soil and water containing iodine are dietary source of iodine. In recent days, salt is fortified with Iodine and sold as iodized salt. This provides necessary dietary source of iodine. Iodine is added to several processed food like bread as stabilizing agent which also acts as dietary source of iodine.
Excessive consumption of some food like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and radish can cause iodine deficiency, as they contain substance – Goitrogens, which reacts with iodine present in food and makes it unsuitable for absorption.
Deficiency of iodine can have serious effects. There are several symptoms that reveal iodine deficiency. The symptoms of iodine deficiency include
- Changes in metabolic activity
- Thickening of skin, loss of hair, abnormal weight gain
- Anemia and fatigue, constant body aches and pains
- In severe deficiency, high blood cholesterol level and high blood pressure.
- In severe cases mental retardation associated with diseases such as cretinism, characterized by serious physical malformations, could be the result. According to WHO reports, iodine deficiency is one of the leading causes of mental retardation all over.
- Pregnancy-related problems – miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and congenital abnormalities in their babies. Congenital hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency is the most common preventable cause of mental retardation in the world.
- Breast tenderness, cysts and lumps
Iodine is available in dietary supplements, usually in the form of potassium iodide or sodium iodide. Many multivitamin-mineral supplements contain iodine. Dietary supplements of iodine-containing kelp (a seaweed) are also available. Lugol’s Iodine has been in use since a century, and known to increase metabolism and strengthen immunity. It is used topically or orally for its antiseptic and antibiotic properties.