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Understanding the Importance of Iodine

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Iodine is a vital yet misunderstood nutrient which has been coming to the forefront of medical research in recent years. Necessary for basic biological function in humans, iodine plays an important role in thyroid and adrenal health, immune function, memory and cognition, preventing autoimmune diseases, as well as breast and prostate cancer, just to name a few. According to studies conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, iodine levels of the general population have fallen 50% in the last 30 years. What does this mean to us?

Because iodine is found in every cell of our bodies, any deficiency over time could lead to increased chances of disease. The most widely known is thyroid dysfunction. The thyroid will not function properly without adequate iodine. In fact, there are other elements in our environment that block iodine from reaching the thyroid gland. Iodine is part of a group of elements called ‘halogens’. Flash back to 7th grade science class for just a moment… This group of nonmetal elements on the periodic table includes: iodine, which is necessary for health, and chlorine, fluorine, bromine and astatine, which are all toxic. Because they are all of very similar molecular weight, chlorine, bromine, and fluoride will adhere to the iodine receptor on the thyroid gland, blocking iodine absorption. This is important because of the abundance of toxic halides found in our swimming pools and hot tubs, our drinking water, bakery products, and prescription asthma medications.

Testing iodine levels is easy, painless, inexpensive, and can determine if supplementation is needed. Iodized salt was thought to guard against deficiency, but recent studies show that is not always the case. In fact, the Recommended Daily Allowance of iodine has been vastly underestimated. New research shows that up to 100 times the current RDA may be necessary to effectively prevent disease. If iodine levels are too low, supplementing with natural sources is very safe. The Japanese are legendary for their longevity and low rates of degenerative disease, most notably breast and prostate cancer. Interestingly, their diet is very high in iodine rich fish and sea vegetables. Naturally occurring iodine is also found in unrefined sea salt, artichokes, pineapple, asparagus and dark green vegetables. Synthetic sources of iodine are not utilized by the body as efficiently and should be avoided as they may cause unwanted side effects, including thyroid suppression.

The uses for therapeutic iodine are vast, and we are understanding more about this vital nutrient every day. Some of the current uses include: heavy metal detoxification, removing excess estrogens, treating thyroid dysfunction, reproductive and breast cancers, lowered immune function, chronic fatigue, attention deficit disorder, memory impairment, depression, and headaches.

Always use iodine supplementation under the supervision of a physician. They will be able to test levels by administering an Iodine Loading Test, and determine how much supplementation may be needed.

Preventive measures now will keep you healthy for years to come. It is far easier and less expensive to prevent disease, than to treat it once it has occurred.

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Source by Kathy Veon, AP, DOM

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