• Jamie Sculley, ND

Why You Need Iodine for Thyroid Health


If you have hypothyroidism you've probably heard about iodine. This nutrient is very closely tied to thyroid health. It's a necessary component in thyroid hormone production along with other nutrients like tyrosine and selenium.


But how much do you need? Can you take too much? I'll cover all that in this post!


Why Do We Need Iodine?

This mineral is essential for thyroid hormone production. The hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) have four and three iodine atoms attached to a molecule of tyrosine, respectively. Most of the iodine in the body is stored in the thyroid.


Thyroid hormones are necessary for brain, digestive, cardiovascular, bone, and reproductive functions. They are especially important during pregnancy and early childhood for both physical and mental development so it's important that women have adequate amounts in their diet or through supplementation.


Sources of iodine include seafood, kelp, iodized salt, dairy and processed foods with iodine added. Salts like Himalayan salt or sea salt usually don't contain iodine.



How Much Iodine Do We Need?

The recommended amount varies depending on age. In adults, the recommended daily amount is 150 mcg/day. In pregnant women it's 220 mcg/day and in breastfeeding women it's 290 mcg/day.


Both low and high levels of iodine can cause thyroid enlargement (goiter) and thyroid disease.



Iodine Deficiency

Low levels of iodine can lead to goiter as the thyroid attempts to sequester all of the iodine in the body. Without adequate iodine, the thyroid can't make enough thyroid hormones and you can develop hypothyroidism.


Iodine is necessary for fetal and child development and deficiency can lead to mental and physical impairments, small stature, deafness, and learning disabilities. In pregnant women, deficiency can lead to infertility issues.


Causes of deficiency can include poor diet or exposure to halogens (chlorine, bromine, fluoride). Some foods, such as those in the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussel's sprouts, cauliflower), and millet, cassava and soy beans may interfere with the uptake of iodine.



Iodine Toxicity

Toxicity usually develops through supplementation of iodine due to thyroid disease or iodine deficiency. Symptoms of toxicity include mouth, throat or stomach irritation, fever, nausea, diarrhea, brassy taste in the mouth and rash.


Excess iodine may lead to either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism and goiter.



Summary

Iodine is essential for thyroid hormone production. Sources include seafood, kelp, iodized salt and dairy. In adults, the recommended daily amount is 150 mcg/day. In pregnant women it's 220 mcg/day and in breastfeeding women it's 290 mcg/day. Both low and high levels of iodine can cause goiter and thyroid disease. Causes of deficiency can include poor diet, exposure to halogens or eating goitrogenic foods that interfere with uptake. Iodine excess usually occurs due to supplementation. Symptoms of iodine toxicity include mouth, throat or stomach irritation, fever, nausea, diarrhea, and rash.



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In health,

Dr. Jamie




This website is not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. All information, content, and material of this website is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.


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Resources

Office of Dietary Supplements - Iodine. (2020, September 18). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/




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