Iodine – Your Thyroid’s Best Friend
What is Iodine?
Iodine – Your Thyroid’s Best Friend, Iodine is a critically important trace mineral that is required to maintain the proper functioning of all of the body’s systems. However, because 70 to 80% of the iodine in our body is concentrated in the thyroid, it is, unsurprisingly, especially crucial for proper thyroid function.
While iodine is present in land and sea vegetables (algae), as well as iodized table salt, many studies suggest that an important percentage of the population may not be getting an adequate intake via their diet, with many natural health practitioners going so far as calling iodine deficiency a «silent epidemic».
Iodine and the Thyroid
So how does iodine affect the thyroid you may wonder? Well, in a nutshell, the thyroid requires an adequate quantity of iodine to produce key thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which are released into the blood and then carried to the tissues of the body.
These hormones control all of our basic metabolic functions including energy production, metabolic rate, normal growth, and cognitive development in children.
Low Iodine and the Thyroid
When iodine requirements are not met, the thyroid is no longer capable of synthesizing enough thyroid hormones to support metabolic functions, and hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) occurs. Hypothyroidism can be mild to severe and the symptoms can have a profound impact on the overall quality of life. Some of the most common symptoms associated with hypothyroidism include:
- Abnormal Menstruation
- Cognitive Impairment/Brain Fog/Difficulty Concentrating
- Cold Intolerance
- Fertility Problems
- Fibrocystic Breast Disease
- Heart disease
- Psychiatric disorders
- Weight gain/Obesity
In addition, untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy results in babies born with lower IQ scores and impaired psychomotor (mental and motor) development. If properly controlled, however, women with hypothyroidism typically have healthy, unaffected babies.
Iodine for Hypothyroidism
Iodine is critical for a healthy functioning thyroid, and supplementation can be a great idea for many people, especially those that do not consume many iodine-rich foods, as well as those who have swapped out iodized table salt for sea salt which is virtually iodine-free. Your health care practitioner may also recommend an iodine supplement if you have many of the classic signs of hypothyroidism despite a thyroid test (TSH) that has come back normal (i.e. it seems your thyroid is functioning just right). This is typically referred to as “subclinical hypothyroidism”, and the condition tends to respond well to iodine supplementation, with most people reporting alleviation of low thyroid symptoms. It’s worth noting, however, that anyone who has a confirmed diagnosis of hypothyroidism and is taking synthetic thyroid hormones (Synthroid), should speak to their health practitioner before starting to supplement with iodine.
Iodine Supplement Dose for Thyroid Support
Iodine supplements come in tablets or liquid drops. The reference chart below should help you figure out the appropriate dose for you, according to your age group:
Birth to 6 months: 110 micrograms
7–12 months: 130 micrograms
1–8 years: 90 micrograms
9–13 years: 120 micrograms
14 years and older: 150 micrograms
Pregnant women: 220 micrograms
Breastfeeding women: 290 micrograms
When it comes to taking iodine in drop form for your thyroid, you can either use the dropper to place a drop directly on your tongue or dilute it in a little juice or water, according to your preference.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.
Roos Jonsin is a Canadian naturopath and researcher dedicated to helping people live healthier lives through education about vitamins, herbs, and nutritional supplements. Roos also consults with suppliers and manufacturers with product development and marketing. National Nutrition is Canada’s leading health & nutritional supplements store, also voted as the Best Health Food Store in Canada by the experts at Canadian Health Food Association.