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Iodine: Importance and Benefits

By eHealthIQ
Reviewed: April 07, 2017

When people see or hear about the mineral iodine, it’s often in the context of iodized salt. There’s more to this element than being an additive, though; it’s an important part of a healthy eating regimen. Since the body cannot itself make iodine, it must be found in the diet. Read on to discover how vital this nutrient is to the body.

Iodine’s most significant contribution to health is through the thyroid, which needs the element to make hormones. The hormones made control the body’s metabolism, which in turn regulates a host of bodily functions like sleep, nutrient absorption, energy levels, heart rate, and more. A deficiency of iodine can likewise cause a multitude of the problems, not least of all thyroid diseases. Hyperthyroidism, goiters, and thyroid cancer are all much likelier without regular consumption of the mineral.

Iodine intake manifests itself in other healthy systems, as well. Healthy reproductive and immune systems need it, as does the nervous system in regards to hormone production. A deficiency can promote infertility, weakened reproductive organs, underdeveloped fetuses, and other pregnancy complications in women. For the immune system, iodine supports regular function and boosts antioxidant production, warding off other diseases.

Beyond supplemental intake, iodine works well as an antibacterial, cancer-resistant, and chemical-fighting agent. Many places have used it to purify water, it’s been used to treat sores and wounds, and it’s known to flush out toxins like mercury and lead. Beyond these, though, cancer cells have been shown to retreat from iodine present in the body; some malignant cells even experience apostasies – cell death – and get replaced by healthy ones. Breast cancer in particular has shown promising results after an uptake of iodine in the sufferer. In short, iodine can be taken as a preventative measure against a range of conditions.

Iodine also does the body external good, as well. Healthy skin, hair, and teeth are all made healthier with adequate amounts of the mineral; hair especially benefits from it, as iodine prevents hair loss and strengthens the follicle. A diet lacking in the element can result in dry skin, brittle nails, and weaker hair.

Several methods of intake exist for iodine, from eating healthy amounts of marine plants and animals to fruits and vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil. Supplements also exist in the form of tablets or liquid solutions, as well as the option of kelp capsules; these can largely be found wherever supplements and health foods are sold.

Before beginning a supplement, however, it’s best to consult a doctor for what’s best for your body. Over 2,000 milligrams is considered an overdose, but beneath this level, anywhere from 150 micrograms to the Japanese standard of 14 milligrams could be recommended. Taking an excess can lead to adverse health effects, so it’s best to be on the side of caution. When taken with care, iodine boasts a plentiful amount of benefits and makes an excellent addition to a healthy body.

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