Amazing Facts About Iodine

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Iodine is a very common mineral on Earth, with the largest concentrations of it found in the sea. It’s essential for vertebrates to have Iodine in their system to sustain life. Our bodies use it in the process of converting what we eat into energy. Without it, we metabolize food very poorly and our bodies will start to function abnormally.

We only need small amounts of Iodine daily, but unlike some of the trace elements inside the human body, we can’t produce Iodine naturally. We have to get our daily dose of 15-20 milligrams of Iodine from our diet. Going over or going under the recommended daily amount for a significant amount of time will produce dire consequences on our body.

If we don’t have enough Iodine in our bodies, our thyroid gland can’t release the thyroxine it produces into our bloodstream. Most of the cells in our body need thyroxine to function, and we’ll initially experience a general feeling of weakness. Deficiency in Iodine will also make us feel inexplicably cold. Prolonged periods without Iodine to release thyroxine into our bloodstream will cause inflammation of our thyroid gland, characteristic of a condition called goiter.

Iodine deficiency causes slow mental faculties, unexplainable weight gain, and hypothermia. Without addressing the Iodine deficiency, men can become sterile and pregnant women can have miscarriages. [1] In severe Iodine deficiency cases, children whose mothers didn’t have enough Iodine from supplementation and diet suffered cretinism, mental and physical growth retardation, and problems in cognitive development. [2] Iodine deficiency ultimately leading to a condition called hypothyroidism can also cause hair loss, depression, constipation, and muscle pain.

Having too much Iodine also causes problems in physical and mental function. This condition, called hyperthyroidism, can cause nodules to form in the thyroid, or cause the thyroid to swell disproportionately. [3] Hyperthyroidism causes tremors, irritability, and nervousness, and excessive sweating. [4] It also causes diarrhea, insomnia, palpitations, unexplainable weight loss, and general upper body weakness. People who suffer from hyperthyroidism are more susceptible to heat stroke because of their body’s inability to regulate heat, another function of the thyroid gland.

Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism are eye bulging and painful breast enlargement in men, although the latter is uncommon even in undiagnosed hyperthyroidism. [5] It would take a large amount of Iodine to cause hyperthyroidism in both men and women, and deficiency is more of a targeted concern than its excess.

Getting Enough Iodine

You don’t have to worry too much about Iodine deficiency if you use iodized salt at home for as long as they’re stored in glass containers instead of plastic ones. Salt also retains its Iodine sufficiently even when exposed to cooking. [6]

However, pregnant women need a considerably increased amount of intake to avoid birth complications. Pregnant women need 220 micrograms of Iodine per day, and breastfeeding mothers should have 270 micrograms per day. Taking Iodine supplements and adding Iodine-rich food to their diets should ensure adequate amounts of the nutrient are being consumed. Iodine supplements should be branded specifically for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and avoid seaweed or kelp supplements because of their tendency to contain mercury. [7] People who take antidepressants need to monitor their thyroid function because their medication may be affecting the way the thyroid gland and Iodine absorption.

Fresh seaweed, scallops, cod, and shrimp contain the highest amount of Iodine when it comes to seafood. People who may not like seafood can opt for iodine-fortified bread instead. Eggs, yogurt, and strawberries also contain Iodine.


[1] Iodine Deficiency. American Thyroid Association.

[2] Effect of Iodine Supplementation During Pregnancy on Infant Neurodevelopment at 1 year of Age.

[3] Hyperthyroidism. American Thyroid Association.

[4] Hyperthyroidism. Wikipedia.

[5] Hyperthyroidism with Gynaecomastia as the Initial Complaint: A case Report. Annals Academy of Medicine.

[6] Effects of storage and cooking on the iodine content in iodized salt and study on monitoring iodine content in iodized salt. National Center for Biotechnology Information.

[7] Iodine Supplementation: Public Statement. National Health and Medical Research Council.

[8] Iodine. The World’s Healthiest Foods.

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