The many and important iodine uses in the body make it one of the most significant trace elements.
Iodine is a non-metallic mineral element that plays several key roles in the body’s nervous and endocrine systems, however, it is not produced in the body. Therefore testing for iodine levels and management through diet and possible supplementation are really important to maintaining a healthy body and mind.
The 8 benefits of iodine on your health
1. Iodine for a Healthy Thyroid Gland
The greatest use of iodine by the body is in ensuring the optimal function of the thyroid gland. Its direct involvement in the formation of the crucial thyroid hormones makes it pivotal to the health of your thyroid gland. Therefore, you will need to ensure adequate dietary intake through iodized salt, fortified foods, and natural food sources.
If you don’t meet your body’s daily requirement of more than 150mcg of iodine, you can develop hypothyroidism where your thyroid hormones are inadequate.
2. Healthy Metabolism
Metabolism is regulated by the thyroid hormones which makes a healthy thyroid an essential master regulatory gland. When you have healthy levels of the thyroid hormones, metabolism is optimal cutting down your weight, ensuring great blood flow to vital organs, adequate body warmth, a good heart rate for a healthy heart and many other iodine benefits. You will have the energy to make the best out of every day and sleep soundly at night (1)
3. Increases Brain Performance
Studies have shown that one of the iodine benefits is a healthy brain (2). It was revealed that in adults, it increases productivity including better learning and memory while boosting cognitive capabilities in children. For this reason, the recommended intake is higher in pregnant and breastfeeding women. It allows for the normal physical and brain development of the baby. When you feel lethargic and under-productive, try taking in adequate iodine and watch as your brain activity is boosted.
4. Improves Eye Health
Iodine gets concentrated in some parts of the eye and is therefore therapeutically used broadening the spectrum of iodine benefits. Research has shown that it affects cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma, infections and UVB protection (3). Iodine can possibly be effective for conjunctivitis also known as pink eye (4).
5. Foundation for Breast Health
One of the other iodine benefits is in the management of fibrocystic breast disease (5). It reduces the pain and signs of fibrosis in this painful condition where lumps grow in the breasts. Through the endocrine system, iodine enables the production of stable and functional estrogen that prevents the formation of cysts and lumps in the breasts and promotes overall breast health.
6. Healthy Looking Skin and Hair
When thyroid hormones levels are low from an Iodine deficiency regeneration of the hair follicles can slow and stop which over time can cause hair loss. Iodine has been proven to be crucial in the prevention of wrinkling and the formation of fine lines in the skin as one starts ageing (6). Maintaining iodine levels will, therefore, allow you to have youthful skin together with other iodine benefits. Iodine also regulates skin moisture levels and accelerates skin repair allowing you healthy and radiant skin. Through the endocrine system, it prevents the formation of acne. It also enables you to have strong and healthy teeth.
7. Promotes Ovarian Health
Ovarian health depends on the integrity of the endocrine system as it is tightly controlled by hormones. Optimal levels of thyroid hormones are necessary for healthy reproductive hormonal levels. Iodine used in the formation of the thyroid hormones is therefore essential in ensuring ovarian health that allows for ovulation at the right time, increased ease of pregnancy and prevention of many reproductive problems.
An extrathyroidal function of iodine is in the protection against free radicals and other harmful oxidants like peroxides (7). It is therefore important in diseases related to oxidative stress like cardiovascular diseases, respiratory disorders, and eye problems. When you insist on maintaining normal levels of iodine in your body, you are actually preventing a host of the dangerous non-communicable diseases above.
9. Radiation Emergencies
Exposure to radioactive iodine during a nuclear accident or any other ionizing radiation poses a great risk to human health. When inhaled or ingested, radioactive iodine enters your body and accumulates in your thyroid gland posing the risk of thyroid cancer. To prevent the outcome, potassium iodide is used in these radiation emergencies and is recommended by WHO (8). Iodine prevents the absorption of radioactive iodine.
10. Kills Germs and Sterilizes
Iodine is also widely used as a sterilizer because of its ability to kill a broad spectrum of microorganisms. Its application on the skin kills germs present (9) and that is the reason for its use in operating theatres to sterilize the patient’s skin where the cut is made. It is also used in the sterilization of equipment used in many medical procedures. Its efficacy has been shown in the management of diabetic ulcers (9) where it prevents the infection of the wound. Iodine has also been used in the purification of water.
Iodine may just be one trace element but its role is pivotal in human health.
It may be time you started paying attention to your iodine intake to enjoy the many iodine benefits and prevent the development of quite a number of health problems.
Iodized table salt and seafood are the more reliable sources of iodine although fortified foods and other natural sources exist. As you can see from the many uses of iodine, you do not want to risk iodine deficiency.