Iodine was highlighted last week in a study that showed its importance for a developing mind and this trace element has many more benefits for the body at all stages of life. Learn more about what iodine can do to help you stay healthy.
The Role of Iodine
Iodine cannot be naturally produced by the body but is essential for health. Iodine is considered a trace element because you only need a small -- although very important -- amount of it on a daily basis to maintain health. The main functions of iodine within the body are to support cellular metabolism, or energy production, and keep the thyroid functioning normally. The thyroid needs iodine to create hormones. Having too little iodine can lead to goiter or hypothyroidism, as well as physical and intellectual disability, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). On the other end, having too much iodine can impair the function of the thyroid.
Iodine is also used in the treatment of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. You may also have seen iodine in your doctor's office. Iodine is applied to the skin as a way to kill germs, especially before a medical procedure, due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. Iodine is known to stain the skin a dark yellow.
Iodine made headlines in the health world last week for its role in prenatal development. Women need iodine to prevent their blood pressure from becoming too high. Iodine also ensures the brain of the fetus develops properly as well as the entire central nervous system. A study lead by Margaret Raymen of the University of Surrey found children whose mothers experienced mild to moderate iodine deficiency while pregnant exhibited weaker reading and speaking skills.
Are you getting enough iodine?
Although certain medical conditions or other physical stages of life, such as pregnancy, may call for more iodine, the recommended daily dose of iodine for all ages is as follows (as stated by the NIH):
Zero to six months -- 100 mcg
Seven to 12 months -- 130 mcg
One to eight years -- 90 mcg
Nine to 13 years -- 120 mcg
14 years and older -- 150 mcg
If you're interested in getting more iodine into your diet, seafood, iodine-fortified foods and dairy can be sources. Iodized salt (added during production) is also the most common source for iodine in the modern diet. The most effective way to get more iodine into your diet if you're watching your salt intake or avoid the other foods previously mentioned is through a kelp product. Kelp is a sea vegetable that is packed with iodine. Kelp supplements are available in pill or liquid form, to make taking it convenient, and in various strengths to suit your needs. In addition to iodine, kelp supports bone health, immunity and has anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties, among its many benefits.
If you're currently being treated for a thyroid condition with medication, it's important to speak with your doctor before adding an iodine supplement to your routine. It's also important to consult a physician if you're pregnant, nursing or taking medications for high blood pressure as well as water pills, a common type of diuretic. Your doctor can determine the appropriate dose.
Your doctor can help you determine if you're in need of additional iodine. Shop our selection of kelp supplements at eVitamins to add more iodine to your diet in a way that's convenient for you.