World Iodine Deficiency Day
We know how important calcium is for our bones and iron for our blood, but do you realize how important iodine is for our body? Without iodine, the growth and development of the brain can suffer. A deficiency of iodine can cause issues related to weight and, in some cases, also lead to certain forms of cancer.
The thyroid gland, which is primarily responsible for the synthesis of our hormones, cannot function without iodine. It is iodine that helps the thyroid gland regulate our metabolism, synthesize our hormones and help the brain develop healthily.
So what exactly is iodine? It is a mineral, quite rare in Mother Nature, found mainly in the ocean. It is also found in foods that grow in iodine-rich soil. Most of us get our supply of iodine from iodised table salt. Yet, only half of the world population seems to be getting enough iodine in their daily intake. Iodine deficiency is a highly ignored condition and can lead to several problems that we don’t seem to realise.
Let’s quickly look at the many benefits of iodine –
- Metabolism – Your metabolism defines how your body will consume the food you eat and whether it is to be stored or used immediately. Like insulin that regulates the blood glucose levels, iodine helps regulate hormones along with the thyroid gland, that aid in a healthy metabolism.
- Mental Development – In a child, iodine helps the hormones to develop the brain tissue. It is also used in the nerve insulation process, which is extremely important during early childhood. Lack of iodine can lead to swelling of the brain tissue that can result in brain fogs.
- Fertility – Conception is not possible without the proper working of hormones which, in turn, are very dependent on iodine. Iodine helps assure a good balance of estrogen in women that helps in normal ovulation. Iodine is important for men too, as it can impact sperm production.
- Immunity – Did you know that iodine is used to treat thyroid and breast cancer? Iodine is also used for application on external wounds in case of an accident. This is because iodine has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasitic properties.
Symptoms of iodine deficiency –
- Weight gain
- Poor memory
- Early menopause
- Menstrual issues
- Poor thyroid health
- Weak immunity
The body only needs 150 micro grams of iodine per day after the age of 14. For children, the recommended intake is 90 micro grams per day. For pregnant women, 290 micro grams is recommended per day until the mother stops breastfeeding. Iodine is more important for pregnant women as it helps the foetus’ proper growth and development.
Including foods rich in iodine into your diet can help; these are:
- Sea food – cod fish, tuna, dried seaweed, shrimp
- Turkey breast
- Fruits such as cranberries, organic strawberries, dried prunes
- Organic yoghurt
- Organic potatoes
- Cheddar cheese
- Our good old iodine refined salt!
Do not ignore iodine deficiency as it can have dramatic effects on our health!