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Iodine - Benefits, Deficiency Symptoms And Food Sources

Iodine is a very vital mineral in the body. Iodine is an essential constituent of the hormone thyroxine produced by the thyroid gland. For centuries, seaweed was used for the treatment of goiter; but it was only at the turn of the nineteenth century that iodine was recognized as its active principle. The availability of radio-iodine has led to better understanding of the physiology of iodine and its action on the thyroid gland.

Seventy to eighty percent of iodine is found in the thyroid gland in the neck. The rest is distributed throughout the body, particularly in the ovaries, muscles, and blood.

Benefits and functions of Iodine

Iodine acts in the body only when it is incorporated into the hormone thyroxine, which: (i) increases metabolism and oxygen consumption of tissues; (ii) converts glycogen to glucose, thereby raising the blood sugar level (since that depletes liver glycogen, the organ becomes more vulnerable to injury); (iii) increases the heart rate; and (iv) depletes the bones of calcium and phosphorus, and increases urinary calcium excretion. A health care provider may also recommend iodine supplements for the following conditions :-

  • Fibrocystic Breast Changes
  • Vaginitis
  • Wounds

Recommended dosage of Iodine

The Recommended Daily Allowance for iodine are :-

  • Adults - 150 mcg.
  • Children - 70 to 90 mcg.

Deficiency symptoms of Iodine

Symptoms of iodine deficiency may include: acne, depression, frustration, goiter, hormonal imbalance, hyper and hypothyroidism, lethargy, miscarriages, scaly or dry skin, sterility or infertility. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy and early infancy can result in cretinism (irreversible mental retardation and severe motor impairments).

Food sources of Iodine

Iodized salt is the primary dietary source of iodine. Plant and animal sea life, such as shellfish, white deep-water fish, and brown seaweed kelp, absorb iodine from the water and are great sources of iodine. It may also be found in asparagus , dulse, garlic ,lima beans, mushrooms, sea salt (which provides nature's own balance of minerals), sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard, and turnip greens.

General Interaction
  • Combining iodine with such anti-thyroid drugs as methimazole and propylthiouracil may lessen the effect of these medications.
  • Don't take iodine at the same time as the anti-manic agent lithium; adverse interactions may occur.

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