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- An essential trace element, iodine is needed by almost every bodily system to support optimal well-being and stave off disease.
- In addition to regulating thyroid hormone levels, iodine also supports the immune system, cognitive functionality and supports a healthy pregnancy.
- Iodine can be found in a host of sea-based animals and plants, as well as green leafy vegetables, eggs and raw dairy products.
A chemical powerhouse
An essential trace element, iodine can be found in almost every organ and tissue in the human body. It’s needed to support just about every bodily system, not only to keep us functioning at our best – but also to support your efforts to help prevent certain diseases, including various types of cancer.
Clearly, iodine is a vital nutrient that our bodies require – yet it’s one that we cannot make ourselves. As such, we have to rely on a nutritionally balanced diet that includes plenty of iodine-rich plants and animals, with the most abundant sources originating in the sea. For men and women age 14 and older, the Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) is 150 mcg per day.
It all starts with the thyroid
Iodine’s most pivotal role is that of supporting thyroid function. This vital gland needs iodine in order to produce hormones such as thyroxine (T4 hormone) and triiodothyronine (T3) that affect the body’s Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR). The BMR, in turn, is the driver of heart rate, blood pressure, the efficacy of organs, digestive enzyme activity, food absorption and its subsequent transformation into energy, sleep cycle regulation, and proper central nervous and skeletal system development, among other functions.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg
In addition to its support in maintaining optimal thyroid performance, iodine is also tasked with a host of other critical supporting roles – including supporting the body’s immune system. It achieves this objective in several ways: it serves as a scavenger of free hydroxyl radicals, it boosts the activity of antioxidants to shore up the body’s defenses, and it also supports your efforts to help promote the self-destruction of malignant cells. Iodine’s selectivity in this regard is especially impressive, as it’s able to support your efforts to help eradicate mutated cancer cells while not adversely impacting healthy cells. And speaking of cancer, by enabling a balanced endocrine system through the thyroid, iodine’s anti-carcinogenic property supports your efforts to help alleviate thyroid cancer.
Immune system support aside, iodine helps support sweating and salivary production; supports your efforts to reduce fibrosis, turgidity and breast tenderness; supports relief from fibrocystic disease; and supports healthy teeth, skin and hair. Iodine is especially effective in supporting building strong follicles and accelerating hair growth – both of which result in shiny, lustrous locks.
Last, but certainly not least, is iodine’s contribution to a healthy pregnancy. By supporting blood pressure, it supports your efforts to avoid high blood pressure for the mother – and for the baby, its role in fostering healthy brain development can help preclude motor-function and learning challenges, as well as cretinism or other mental disabilities.
Best sources of iodine
For the optimal iodine-rich foods, you only need to ask Poseidon – because sea vegetables and seafood top the list of plant- and animal-based sources. Marine plants include brown seaweed kelp, nori, kombu and wakame, while cod, haddock, salmon, halibut, shrimp and deep-water whitefish are just a few examples from the wild-caught fish category.
In addition to iodized salt, here are some additional options (in alphabetical order):
- Canned tuna and sardines
- Eggs (cage-free)
- Lima beans
- Raw, unpasteurized dairy products
- Summer squash
- Swiss chard
- Whole-grain products
Since consuming a bounty of ocean-origin foods might present a challenge for some people, supplementation may be the answer. Iodine supplements come in several forms, including potassium iodide or sodium iodide that may also be present in multi-vitamins. As with all supplements, you’ll want to speak with your physician or a skilled holistic practitioner to determine if this is an appropriate therapeutic approach for you.
What’s the bottom line?
As a critical essential trace element, iodine is critical in support of thyroid regulation which, in turn, impacts the body’s Basic Metabolic Rate – thereby affecting everything from blood pressure, and food absorption to sleep cycle regulation and proper central nervous and skeletal system development. In addition, iodine helps support the immune system, supports your efforts to eradicate cancerous cells, foster brain development, and facilitate a healthy pregnancy for both mother and child. Obtained primarily from seafood and sea plants such as kelp and seaweed, iodine can also be found in green leafy vegetables, eggs and legumes. If iodine supplementation is considered to maintain homeostasis, a medical professional should be consulted.