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Iodine is a chemical element with the atomic number of 53. The chief store-house of iodine in the body is the thyroid gland. The essential thyroxin, which is secreted by this gland, is made by the circulating iodine. Thyroxin is a chemical which controls the basic metabolism and oxygen consumption of tissues, in particular, in burning a surplus of fat. It increases the heart rate as well as urinary calcium excretion.

Iodine is a trace mineral element which regulates the rate of energy production and body weight and promotes proper growth. It improves mental alacrity and promotes healthy hair, nails, skin and teeth. It also stimulates the liver to produce the beneficial HDL cholesterol which helps to lower the LDL choleterol levels, determines the level of the metabolism, relieves pain by connective tissue inflammations in the breasts (fibrocystic breast problems), prevents thyroid gland disturbances, loosens mucus that may block the airways, is a natural anti-inflammatory and disinfection agent and offers protection against the poisonous effects of radioactive substances.

The thyroid gland uses iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to produce the hormones thyroxin and triiodothyronine. Both of these hormones function to regulate cellular metabolism. Metabolism refers to all of the processes that make energy available to cells. As such, these hormones regulate the conversion of glycogen (stored glucose) to glucose.

Selenium is a necessary co-factor for a family of enzymes called iodothyronine deiodinase. These enzymes are responsible for activation and deactivation of thyroid hormones. As such, deficiency of selenium may either exacerbate iodine deficiency or even mimic some of the symptoms.

The high prevalence of sugar, refined carbohydrates or rancid vegetable oils prevent the absorption of iodine in the body.

Many people believe that using iodised table salt can provide them with iodine they need but once the container is exposed to air, iodine content is nearly gone within four weeks after opening (even faster under conditions of high humidity) therefore it is best to consume the foods listed below to get enough iodine rather than table salt.

Iodine deficiency

Iodine deficiency can cause a thyroid imbalance, goitre and enlargement of the thyroid glands, chronic tiredness, apathy, dry skin, infertility, poor nails and hair, inability to withstand the cold and weight increase.

A deficiency of iron makes the thyroid dysfunction seen in iodine deficiency worse. Bromides are a common endocrine disruptor. Because bromide is also a halide, it competes for the same receptors that are used in the thyroid gland (among other places) to capture iodine. This will inhibit thyroid hormone production resulting in a low thyroid state.

Small doses of iodine are of great value in the prevention of goitre in areas where it is endemic and are of value in treatments, at least in the early stages. Larger doses have a temporary value in the preparation of patients with hyperthyroidism for surgical operation.

One study showed an iodine deficiency in 25% of vegetarians and 80% of vegans, compared with only 9% of those consuming a mixed diet that contained dairy and meat.

Fluoride excess can also cause iodine deficiency which has been shown in studies of populations where tap water has been fluoridated.

Iodine is an important nutrient for pregnant and breast feeding women to consume as it is vital for the correct development of the infant. However, shellfish should be avoided by pregnant women.


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Highest sources of iodine in micrograms per serving listed in brackets

  • Chlorella, dulse, spirulina algae and kelp (1 tablespoon or 5 g) 750 µg

  • Himalayan crystal salt (half a gram) 450 µg

  • Cranberries (4 oz or 114 g) 400 µg

  • Lobster (3.53 oz or 100 g) 100 µg

  • Cod (3 oz or 85 g) 99 µg

  • Plain yoghurt (8 oz or 227 g) 75 µg

  • Seafood, clams etc (3.53 oz or 100 g) 66 µg

  • Potato (one medium size) 60 µg

  • Milk (8oz or 227 g) 59 µg

  • Shrimp (3 oz or 85 g) 35 µg

  • Navy beans (4 oz or 114 g) 32 µg

  • Turkey (3 oz or 85 g) 34 µg

  • Anchovies (100 g) 30 µg

  • One medium sized egg 24 µg

  • Cheddar cheese (1 oz or 28 g) 23 µg

  • Tinned tuna (3 oz or 85 g) 17 µg

  • Gouda cheese (1.42 oz or 40 g) 14 µg

  • Prunes (five) 13 µg

  • Strawberries (8 oz or 227 g) 13 µg

  • Butter beans (4 oz or 114 g) 8 µg

  • Lean beef (3 oz or 85 g) 8 µg

  • Apple juice (8oz or 227 g) 7 µg

  • Peas (4 oz or 114 g) 3 µg

  • Green beans (4 oz or 114 g) 3 µg

  • Banana (one medium) 3 µg

NOTE:  One µg is one microgram.

Recommended daily requirement of iodine

  • Adult males over 19 years 130 µg

  • Adult females over 19 years 100 µg

  • Birth to 6 months 110 µg

  • Infants 7–12 months 130 µg

  • Children 1–8 years 90 µg

  • Children 9–13 years 120 µg

  • Teens 14–18 years150 µg

  • Pregnant teens and women 125 µg

  • Breastfeeding teens and women 150 µg

NOTE: The tolerable upper intake limit of iodine is 1,000 µg per day for adults over 19 years.

Natural sources of iodine in alphabetical order

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"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC

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