The Wonders of Iodine and Your Thyroid Health
Last week I shared the start of journey to support your thyroid while exploring foods for specific minerals which have shown to support our thyroid. The start of our journey was around the mineral Selenium. What did you think? Was the information helpful? Are you eating your Brazil nuts?
This week we continue to have a closer at our Thyroid. We are looking at Iodine, one of the 5 essential minerals for optimal Thyroid health..
In our overall human population about 1/3 of us are deficient in Iodine -. Hmm, I wonder if we are aware of this. Do you know if you are deficient? Did you know that iodine is one of 5 critical minerals to support healthy thyroid hormone production? Our bodies don’t produce this mineral we need to get it from our food.
Your thyroid gland is uniquely different from the adrenals and ovaries/testes because the thyroid makes hormones from iodine while the adrenals and gonads both produce fat soluble hormones made from cholesterol. This goes along way to understanding that in order to have the thyroid producing thyroid hormones, we need iodine in the body! And yes, you can get this from your diet. And you can also use supplementation. Before you make any changes however, I would recommend you have your iodine levels checked. Adults typically require 150 micrograms (mcg) per day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 200 mcg per day.
Whole Food sources of iodine are found in many types of foods and are most concentrated in foods like:
diary (more from the production process then the food)
Iodised salt (not your best option)
Soy (NOT IN EXCESS)
Cruciferous vegetables – cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower/brussels sprouts (NOT IN EXCESS)
Sea vegetables – Arame/Nori/Kombu/Wakame/Hijiki/Dulse/Agar/Kelp
The human body is not capable of manufacturing iodine; so it needs to source it from our food and supplements. We also know where we can source iodine, lets have a look at what happens when we either have too much or too little of this mineral.
Too Much Iodine – Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones. Iodine is primarily taken in through the diet, with the recommended amount at 150 μg per day in adults who are not pregnant or lactating. In some cases, too much Iodine can result in a thyroid condition called Hyperthyroidism. A number of conditions can cause Hyperthyroidism and the most common one is Graves’ Disease (an autoimmune condition). One of the visible signs is growth in the neck know as a goiter. Other signs of Hyperthyroidism include:
inability to concentrate
fine, brittle hair
nausea and vomiting
breast development in men
Summary a report from NIH – Although excess iodine exposure generally does not result in any apparent clinical consequences, thyroid dysfunction can occur in vulnerable patients with specific risk factors, including those with per-existing thyroid disease, the elderly, foetuses and neonates. As iodine-induced hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism might be either subclinical or overt, excess iodine exposure should be suspected if the aetiology of thyroid dysfunction is not discernible.
Too Little Iodine – When we are low in iodine our bodies are cleaver and tell us this news by displaying. In some cases, when the low levels of iodine impact your thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormones you can develop the condition know as Hypothyroidism. Some of the symptoms associated with Hypothyroidism are also symptoms of low iodine:
increased sensitivity to cold
elevated blood cholesterol levels
I suspect many of you are very familiar with some or all of these symptoms. You might also recall low levels of Selenium have similar impacts on fatigue, thinning hair and muscle weakness. As noted above, iodine is one of the critical minerals your thyroid needs to make thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormone controls your metabolism and other important body functions.
If you feel you are not getting enough or want to just check on your levels, I recommend you get a urine test. The most reliable way to check your iodine intake is to ask your doctor to order a urine test. Your doctor/Naturopath/ may also use a blood test to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels are normal.
Please note – This information is not a full review of Thyroid conditions. Rather a summary of one of the five minerals necessary for proper Thyroid function. If you would like more information around Hypothyroidism ( and Hashimoto which is the autoimmune condition) or Hyperthyroidism, please click on the links.
Iodine is one of five essential minerals necessary for proper Thyroid function. Together with the other 4 minerals (selenium, zinc, iron, and sodium) your thyroid can produce the necessary thyroid hormones necessary for its proper function. Each mineral is important so maintaining balance is what matters.
So how can you help your body maintain that wonderful mineral balance and help your thyroid do its work?
Here are my top 4 suggestions:
(1) Eating a diet rich in WHOLE REAL food, that is varied. Excessive amounts of Soy products and cruciferous veggies is not recommended. Both are great sources of iodine, but with many foods, excess can cause opposing effects. So please keep your diet balanced.
(2) add in or continue your exercise – walking and yoga are great.
(3) have good quality sleep every night
(4) maintain a positive mind set.