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Why is Iodine so Important?

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Most of you will be aware that iodine is needed for our thyroid hormones but there are so many other functions of iodine and it is estimated that many people are deficient of this trace mineral. The World Health Organisation estimates that iodine deficiency affects 72% of the world’s population!

Iodine deficiency is a primary cause of hypothyroidism or low thyroid function and the thyroid gland absorbs approximately 60mcg of iodine each day! But it is also essential for memory, mood, energy and a healthy immune system – think of the iodine that is used on the skin during surgery to prevent infection.

The area that gets me most excited (if you can get excited about a mineral) is the need for iodine in the female reproductive system. There are many iodine receptors through out your body including breast tissue. Iodine deficiency may play a role in fibrocystic breast disease and the presence of iodine can help to modulate the effects of oestrogen on breast tissue – That’s a very good thing! Do you suffer from sore lumpy breast when premenstrual? You might be low in iodine.

Lets have a look at the Japanese, a traditional Japanese diet relates to an intake of around 5-13mg of iodine per day. Our recommend intake of iodine is just 150mcg per day, increased to 220mcg during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Japanese women have a very low prevalence of breast cancer and thyroid conditions are almost unheard of!

The best food sources of iodine are:

  • Seaweed
  • Cod, sea bass
  • Salt – iodised, kelp and Himalayan crystal salt
  • Potato with skin
  • Cows milk
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Eggs

But how do you know if you are deficient in iodine? You can do a 24 hour urine test with your Doctor to determine your iodine levels and symptoms to look out for are fatigue, thyroid stimulating hormone blood levels of greater than 2, cold hands and feet, foggy thinking, dry skin, thinning hair and constipation. I find the easiest way to get iodine into the diet is to use Himalayan crystal salt (it also contains many other trace minerals) and add seaweed to salads and veggies, make sure your seaweed is sourced from a safe place, I’m not sure how safe seaweed is from Japan.

Nikki x