Iodine: are you getting enough of this essential nutrient?
Iodine is essential for your health. Yet, according to Dr Mercola, it’s one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies along with Magnesium and Vitamin D. (Fortunately, the latter is not a problem for those of us lucky enough to be living in Spain, as we get plenty of the sunshine vitamin!)
So what does iodine actually do for you?
Iodine has four very important functions in your body: it
- stabilises your metabolism and body weight
- promotes healthy brain development in children
- is responsible for reproductive health and fertility
- optimises your immune system. Iodine is a potent anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic (essential if, like me, you are growing vegetables surrounded by a herd of feral cats), anti-viral and anti-cancer agent. Powerful stuff!
That’s a big job for just one nutrient! So if you want to be healthy, to lose weight, get pregnant or ensure the health of your kids you need to make sure you’re getting enough. So that’s pretty much everyone then.
How can I get more iodine?
The best way to get any nutrient (except of course vitamin D) is through your diet. Supplements should only be a last resort or used if you are seriously deficient as no man made process can match the perfection of nature which provides a perfect balance of micronutrients in a way that your body can assimilate easily (and pleasurably).
The very best source of iodine is from sea vegetables like kelp, kombu, wakame, dulse, irish moss and laver, which are all rich in other useful minerals as well. The Japanese have (until very recently) had the longest life span in the world. Their diet rich in sea vegetables is one of the healthiest diets in the world. Iodine from fish and shellfish tends to be very variable. If you are lucky to live in an area with iodine rich soil you will also be able to get it from your vegetables! Good quality sea salt can also be a good source of iodine.
Your body also needs adequate selenium to use the iodine, which you can get from Brazil nuts, button mushrooms, and fish like cod, tuna, halibut and sardines. So a varied diet is another key to achieving optimum health by ensuring you get all the micronutrients you need.
What if I need to supplement?
If you do need to supplement with iodine, Lugol’s solution has been used for this purpose for nearly 200 years. It can be ‘painted on’ your skin and only what is necessary is taken up. My partner David and his mother used this method for 10+ years without a problem, but some people can be more sensitive and get skin burns (try a small patch on sole of foot first) or may even have an allergic reaction. If the iodine deficiency is not due to low iodine intake but rather inadequate selenium etc, or thyroid disease, supplementing with Lugol’s may worsen the situation.
Others recommend potassium iodide based supplements as ‘gentler’ and less likely to cause problems.
Remember to do your own research before supplementing and if in doubt seek
Who’s stealing your iodine?
Our dietary deficiency is further exacerbated by the fact that a number of every day chemicals actually displace iodine or disrupt its key functions within the body.
Fluorine / Fluoride: Found in fluoridated water, toothpaste and some dental treatments.
Bromine / Bromide: Often used as an additive in processed foods, especially baked goods including bread
Chlorine / Chloride: While chlorine is needed by your body you can have an excess if you eat a lot of salty processed foods. The trouble is that processed foods contain the chemically processed sodium chloride which is a very far cry from real salt! More on that in a future blog.
Neither fluorine or bromine are required and should be minimised where possible.
Other things that also reduce your iodine uptake…
Mercury found in amalgam filling and vaccines as thimerosol
Unfermented soy products like soy milk, tofu etc (for other reasons it may be worth avoiding unfermented soy altogether, but more on that in a future blog)
While cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli also reduce iodine uptake, they also have great health benefits and are only a problem if they are a major dietary item. So the cabbage soup diet is not a long term option then, I can hear husbands up and down the country breathing a sigh of relief!
What I do to ensure I get enough iodine…
I don’t use fluoridated toothpaste (in fact I don’t use toothpaste at all, more about that later).
I have eliminated pretty much all processed food from my diet (even mayonnaise and mustard as they seem to have added monosodium glutamate to everything here in Spain).
My partner David introduced me to Lugol’s solution a couple of years ago and I have been using it ever since.
I plan to introduce sea vegetables into my diet, now I just to need to buy some!