What is iodine?

Iodine is a trace mineral that considered to be one of body’s essential nutrients. The French chemist Bernard Courtois first isolated iodine in 1811 from seaweed, as its high concentration in salt water is also the reason that it’s an essential nutrient in most life forms.

What is iodine deficiency?

Our body needs iodine to produce thyroid hormones(triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4)) which are important for many metabolic functions, biochemical reactions, proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. If the thyroid doesn’t have enough iodine to make hormones, feedback systems in the body will cause the thyroid to work harder which can cause enlarged thyroid gland. Severe deficiency can cause infertility in women, increased risk of cancers (thyroid, prostate, breast, and ovarian), stunted physical and mental growth for baby during pregnancy.

Most people in developed countries get enough iodine from diet. However, certain groups of people are at risk of iodine deficiency:

  • People who live in developing countries, especially in mountainous areas with iodine-deficient soils.

  • Pregnant women need 50% more iodine for the development of their baby.

  • People who do not use iodized salt. Iodized salt is the most widely used strategy to control iodine deficiency.


what is iodine deficiency

Iodine health benefits:

1. Regulates metabolic rate

The production of hormones by thyroid glands requires the appearance of iodine, which directly influence and control body’s metabolic activities and rate. This ensures our body’s organ systems can functions normally, such as absorption of nutrients, transformation of nutrients into energy (ATP), protein synthesis, and heart rate and blood pressure control. With the correct metabolic rate, your body is able to efficiently burn calories and maintain health.

2. Supports thyroid health

1/3 of daily dietary iodine will enter thyroid and 90% of body iodine is stored in thyroid, because thyroid must maintain high levels of iodine in order to make key hormones. A lack of iodine could cause heart complications, changes in appetite, stunted growth, and it is the key cause of Goiter (enlarged thyroid). In addition, iodine-deficient individuals have a high risk of developing radiation-induced thyroid cancer when exposed to nuclear accidents.

3. Fetal and infant development

Sufficient iodine during pregnancy is extremely important for fetal development; researches suggest that infants are more sensitive to the effects of iodine deficiency than other age groups, this including proper physical and neurological growth and maturation. Many health experts now encourage pregnant women to increase dietary intake of iodine-rich foods and supplement to prevent impaired development in infants.

Intake recommendation

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 150μg/day intake of iodine for adults to maintain normal body functions, 220μg/day for pregnant women, and 290μg/day for breast-feeding women. Seafood is excellent source of dietary iodine; dairy products, grains, and eggs are also good dietary sources of iodine.

Food sources high in iodine: Iodized salt, seaweed, shrimp, tuna, cod, milk, egg, yogurt, cheese, green peas, corn, banana

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