Many people overlook the importance of the essential trace mineral Iodine. The benefits of iodine are much more far reaching than the majority of people appreciate.
Some of the health benefits of iodine are increased cognitive function, fluoride detoxification, improved metabolism, reduced chance of free radical exposure to the thyroid gland, balances hormones, may help restore hair colour and improve hair growth, increased energy, protection from radiation, destroys parasites, pathogens, moulds and malaria, offers support to apoptosis (PCD – programmed cell death) which protects against things like cancer. Improvement in the condition fibrocystic disease and fibrosis. Helps to prevent goiter (a common condition associated with iodine deficiency which is characterised by a swelling in the thyroid gland) and thyroid disorders. Has a long standing history as a therapy against cardiovascular disease (by eliminating contributory risk factors like unfavourable lipid profiles caused by thyroid dysfunction) and hypertension.
Iodine and Apoptosis
Apoptosis (programmed cell death) is vital for the formation of new organs and for the removal of potentially life threatening malignant cells (such as cancerous and diseased cells). This can all occur due to the hormone secretions from the thyroid gland and the regulatory effects these have on our system. Iodine plays a significant role in the health of the thyroid gland (see below).
Iodine and the Thyroid Gland
Approximately 60% of the bodies iodine content is stored in our thyroid gland. The health and functioning of the thyroid gland is dependent on iodine. The thyroid gland is responsible for secreting thyroid hormones which control basal metabolic rate (influencing the metabolic processes within our body) among other things. Without iodine, it would not be possible to synthesize these hormones. Hypothyroidism is a condition characterised by an under active thyroid gland. If this condition goes unchecked, it can result in a slowing down of our bodily processes. Weight gain can become an issue as calories fail to get burnt off at a normal rate. Other symptoms can include dry skin, fatigue, constipation, mental fog and cramps. At its worst this condition can lead to coma or heart failure.
Iodine and the Metabolic Rate
The thyroid gland, influenced by iodine, produces hormones. These hormones play a vital role in controlling the basal metabolic rate. Our metabolic rate dictates the efficacy and efficiency of numerous bodily processes. These include processes like our sleep cycles, food absorption and transforming food into energy that can be used by the body. Other hormones (such as triodothyronine and thyroxin) influence our heart rate, our blood pressure, our weight and our temperature. These hormones all help in maintaining the basal metabolic rate, which in turn, aids the synthesis and distribution of proteins within the body, which is vital for maintaining good health.
Iodine and Energy
Energy levels are maintained in the body due to iodine allowing efficient utilisation of calories.
Iodine and Hair, Nails and Teeth
Iodine allows for the healthy formation of hair, nails and teeth. A lack of iodine may be responsible for hair loss. Additionally, this mineral will help with follicle strength and the speed at which hair grows.
Iodine and the Reproductive System
Normal growth of the reproductive organs are aided by iodine. A lack of this trace mineral can also lead to infertility in women. Particularly important for expectant mothers as it will reduce the chance of stillbirths and neurocognitive disorders such as cretinism in newborn babies. Proper growth, speech and hearing are also less likely to be a problem. It is easy for a nursing or pregnant woman to be iodine deficient due to the demands on this mineral at such a time. Iodine is passed on in breast milk to the infant when breastfeeding, so the mother is providing for the needs of two.
Iodine and the Immune System
Not many people realise the importance of iodine for a strong immune system. This mineral significantly boosts the power of our immune system. A powerful antioxidant, which scavenges free hydroxyl radicals. It also offers support to other antioxidants within our body and so increasing the body’s ability to defend against an array of different diseases.
Iodine and Cancer
Iodine has been shown to have significant anticancer properties. It has been observed that cancer cells reduce in size after injections of iodine have been administered. Apoptosis can occur (automatic cell death) followed by replacement with healthy cells. Links have been shown in the prevention of a variety of cancers, in particular thyroid cancer and stomach cancer. Iodine deficiency has also been linked as a significant risk factor for an increased chance of suffering from cancer of the breast. Much can be written on how iodine is now seen as a critical mineral for overall good breast health.
Iodine and Toxins
Our body is constantly battling to remove a multitude of toxic substances from our system on an ongoing basis. Iodine has the ability to flush out many of these harmful chemicals (such as lead, mercury, fluoride and toxic biological compounds) and safely eliminates them from our body. Additionally, iodine has powerful antibacterial properties and has been shown to be effective against the likes of heliobacter pylori (H. Pylori) which has links with causing stomach cancer.