—by Cate Stevenson, BA
Although the amount of iodine you need in your diet is relatively small, it is still vitally important not to be deficient in this mineral. Iodine plays a big role in the synthesis of thyroid hormones and, as a result, is needed to prevent the onset of thyroid problems.
Here are some other important health benefits of iodine that you may be unaware of:
–Lack of iodine can cause a goiter (when your thyroid gland becomes abnormally enlarged).
–Iodine is used in the treatment of conjunctivitis (a condition that affects the eyelids). The mineral also protects against UVB radiation.
–Iodine is essential for smooth functioning of your metabolism.
–A lot of research is being conducted about the preventative effects of iodine when it comes to breast cancer risk. A deficiency of iodine has been known to cause many ovarian problems like ovarian cyst and cancer.
–Iodine is considered by medical experts to be as important as vitamin C. This is because iodine acts as an antioxidant in your blood.
–One of the most important roles of iodine is to maintain healthy skin, nails, hair and teeth
So iodine is important! But, until now, nobody has been worried about the possibility of deficiency, as iodized salt is an important source of dietary iodine in the U.S. and Canada. This is a good thing, because iodine is one of those minerals that you get solely from your diet.
The iodine in salt has helped to prevent thyroid conditions such as goiter and neonatal iodine deficiency in North America since the 1920s. However, researchers have just discovered that, in the U.S., iodine levels have decreased 50% over the past three decades. It seems that in an effort to reduce salt intake to protect the heart from high blood pressure and stroke, a part of the population may now be iodine-deficient.
The researchers of the study agree that calls for reduced salt consumption in order to improve heart health have been, for the large part, a good thing. However, the American Thyroid Association says that we have reached the point, in our efforts at salt reduction, where we may need to supplement our diets with iodine.
They also recommend that all producers of commercially prepared foods use iodized salt, a step not currently practiced by commercial food manufacturers.
The recommended daily amount for iodine is 150 micrograms per day for both men and women. Pregnant women need to be especially careful to maintain an adequate iodine intake, as a deficiency in the mineral is now accepted as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.