Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiency is a problem throughout most of the world and Iodine is perhaps the most misunderstood and feared nutrient of all of the nutrients because of the potential for iodine poisoning.

Acute iodine poisoning is actually very rare and only happens with dosages of several grams of iodine. Most of the earth’s iodine is found in oceans, and its content in the soils varies by region. Iodine is essential for normal thyroid functions, but there is a growing number of the medical community that believe that thyroid medications that are used today may be the wrong treatment as they do not address this deficiency properly.

Every cell within the body needs iodine to function properly, and glands also need iodine for the production of hormones.

There is also a growing concern that because of the decreased levels of iodine in U.S.
soils, that this minerals deficiency may be one of the major causes of breast cancer as well as a contributor to ovarian, uterus and prostrate cysts.

The World Health Organization has also identified Iodine deficiency as the largest single cause of mental retardation.Iodine, a nonmetallic trace mineral, and is required by humans for the synthesis of thyroid hormones.

To meet the body’s demand for thyroid hormones, the thyroid gland traps iodine from the blood and incorporates it into thyroid hormones that are stored and released into the circulation when needed. In target tissues, such as the liver and the brain, T3, the physiologically active thyroid hormone, can bind to thyroid receptors in the nuclei of cells and regulate gene expression in target tissues.

T4, the most abundant circulating thyroid hormone, can be converted to T3 by selenium containing enzymes known as deiodinases, which are extremely important in the functioning of thyroid hormones. In this manner, thyroid hormones regulate a number of physiologic processes, including growth, development, metabolism, and reproductive functions.

Iodine deficiency is now accepted as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.

According to the World Health Organization, iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) affect 740 million people throughout the world, and nearly 50 million people suffer from some degree of IDD-related brain damage.

The spectrum of Iodine deficiency disorders includes mental retardation, hypothyroidism, goiter, and varying degrees of other growth and developmental abnormalities.

It is also estimated that over 35% of the world’s population (almost 2 billion people) has insufficient iodine intake as measured by urinary exertion iodine, as urinary iodine is an indicator of this nutrients status.

Thyroid enlargement, or goiter, is one of the earliest and most visible signs of a deficiency. The thyroid enlarges in response to persistent stimulation by TSH. In mild deficiency, this adaptive response may be enough to provide the body with sufficient thyroid hormones.

More severe cases of deficiency result in hypothyroidism.

Adequate intake of this nutrient will generally reduce the size of goiters, but the reversibility of the effects of hypothyroidism depends on an individual’s stage of development. Iodine deficiency also has adverse effects in all stages of development, but is most damaging to the developing brain.

In addition to regulating many aspects of growth and development, the thyroid hormone is important for proper functioning of the central nervous system, which is most active before and shortly after birth. The iodine content of most foods, again, depends on this nutrients content of the soil. Seafood is a rich source because marine animals can concentrate this nutrient from seawater.

Food sources high in this nutrients content are salt (iodized), cod, shrimp, fish sticks, tuna (canned in oil), milk (cows), egg (boiled), navy beans (cooked), potato with peel (baked), turkey breast (baked), and seaweed.

Potassium iodine is available as a nutritional supplement, typically in combination products, such as multivitamin/ multi mineral supplements. Iodine makes up approximately 77% of the total weight of potassium iodine.