5 Astonishing Health Benefits Of Iodine
Iodine is a hugely underrated nutrient for human health. It’s health impacts are varied and so important yet it’s rarely the first thing people would choose if asked what minerals and nutrients are important to their health. Iodine was discovered by accident by French chemist Barnard Courtois whilst he was trying to extract potassium and sodium compounds from seaweed. He incorrectly added sulfuric acid to what was left which caused a purple cloud to erupt into the lab and a condensed form of iodine accumulating on the metal surfaces in the lab.
Much like copper, iodine is required in tiny trace amounts by the body for it to function properly, especially the thyroid gland which is responsible for physical and mental development and function. Despite the body only needing trace amounts, many people are iodine deficient (usually in lower income countries where the diet may be less varied).
Health benefits of iodine
1. Thyroid function
Iodine’s main and most important role is ensuring proper thyroid function. Iodine helps regulate the production of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Proper iodine levels are essential for the production of these valuable hormones.
Low iodine can lead to hypothyroidism which can lead to unmanageable weight gain as the body can no longer break down fats properly. Hypothyroidism also leads to severe fatigue, dry skin and affected brain activity.
2. Metabolism and energy
T4 and T3 hormones (produced by the thyroid) affect the base metabolic rate which is responsible for the body to absorb nutrients properly and move them around the body. A sluggish metabolism can mean weight gain and low energy levels.
A slow metabolism can also cause dry, cracked skin, hair loss, chills and body weakness.
3. Hair and skin
Skin and hair have been mentioned already but iodine also affects them directly rather than as a symptom of something else. Iodine regulates skin moisture levels and aids in the healing of cuts and scars through cellular regeneration.
Iodine also regulates the hormones responsible for acne breakouts. Iodine deficiency can also cause hair loss.
4. Pregnancy and fetal development
Stillbirths and abnormalities within babies are common among mothers deficient in iodine. Iodine is essential for proper brain development in babies. Studies have shown that babies born to mothers who don't get enough iodine during pregnancy are more likely to have intellectual delays and have a lower IQ compared to babies born to mothers who do get enough iodine during pregnancy.
Iodine is also very important after birth during breastfeeding where mothers need to supply the nutrient to their babies through breastmilk.
Iodine helps the body to retain antioxidants like Vitamin C and stimulates the activity of them in the body. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They’re linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Proper utilization and facilitation of antioxidants in the body helps to build a strong immunity and defence against illness.
Iodine foods and supplements
With a rich and varied diet you will hopefully get all the iodine you need. Here's a list of the best foods for you to get all the iodine you need;
- Sea vegetables like seaweed or kelp
- Seafood like cod and shrimp
- Dairy products like yogurt and raw cheeses
- Fruits and veg like strawberries and potatoes
- Iodized salt and pink Himalayan salt
If you are pregnant or severely deficient, you might want to consider taking an iodine supplement to ensure you are getting enough of this vital nutrient.
I wonder how many of you knew just how important iodine was to our health before today. We often overlook iodine in favour of better known metal nutrients like iron, copper or zinc but we would be foolish to ignore iodine and it's fabulous health benefits especially for the thyroid and for mothers during pregnancy. If you are concerned about an iodine deficiency, see your health professional.
We hope you enjoyed this blog, why not check out The Surprising Health Benefits Of An Epsom Salt Bath or Why All Pregnant Women Should Be Doing Perineal Massage
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