Iodine is a mineral which our bodies need in trace amounts.
Why do I need Iodine?
Iodine is used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones which regulate all key metabolic functions including blood cell production and nerve and muscle function. Because our body heat is primarily derived from muscle metabolism, these hormones also regulate body temperature.
Other tissues that absorb and use large amounts of iodine include: breasts, salivary glands, pancreas, cerebral spinal fluid, skin, stomach, brain, and thymus. Iodine deficiency in any of these tissues will lead to dysfunction of that tissue.
Hence the following symptoms could provide clues that you’re not getting enough iodine in your diet. For example, iodine deficiency in:
Thyroid – increasing fatigue and weakness, often with unintentional weight gain; skin can become dry, rough and pale; hair loss; dry, brittle nails; sensitivity to cold; muscle or joint aches; constipation;, depression; irritability; memory loss; abnormal menstrual cycles with heavy blood flow; decreased sex drive
Salivary glands – inability to produce saliva resulting in a dry mouth
Skin – dry, lack of sweating
Brain – reduced alertness, lowered IQ
Muscles – nodules, scar tissue, pain, fibrosis (thickening and scarring of connective tissue), fibromyalgia
How can I tell if I have an iodine deficiency?
You can perform an at-home skin test (also sometimes called a “patch test”).
- Before bed, use tincture of iodine (the orange variety) to paint a 3-inch square patch on the inside of your forearm, the inside of a thigh, or your abdomen.
- The next morning, inspect the painted area. If all the color remains, then your iodine level is adequate. If all the color is gone, then you definitely have an iodine deficiency. Varying degrees of color loss correspond to your degree of iodine deficiency.
If you have a slight deficiency, eat more iodine rich foods. If you are very deficient, you will need a food grade supplement until your iodine levels improve.
How can I get more iodine in my diet?
The most concentrated amounts of iodine are found in sea vegetables like kelp and wakame, scallops, and cod. Both cod and scallops will provide you with nearly 90% of the daily recommended amount for iodine in a single 4-ounce serving. In the very good category you will find shrimp. Tuna, salmon, and sardines are good sources of iodine.
Cow’s milk, yogurt and eggs rank as very good sources of iodine. You can get about 20% of your daily iodine from 4 ounces of cow’s milk, 1 egg, or 1/2 cup of yogurt.