WHAT IS IODINE?
WHEN WAS IODINE DISCOVERED?
Iodine was discovered in 1811 by the French chemist Bernard Courtois. He made the discovery when helping his father make compounds of potassium and sodium from seaweed. These compounds were then sold on to large industrial business who used them as an ingredient in products such as baking soda and table salt.
To isolate these compounds Courtois collected seaweed from the coasts of Brittany and Normandy, burned it and soaked it in water. This allowed the potassium and sodium compounds to dissolve. Next he added sulfuric acid which reacted with the unwanted seaweed chemicals. Finally, he allowed the water to evaporate which left just the compounds behind.
One day Courtois added too much sulfuric acid which made clouds of violet vapour rise from the mixture. He studied this new material and managed to prove it was a new element which he named iodine.
HOW DOES YOUR BODY USE IODINE?
An average adult stores about 17mg of iodine. Most of this is stored in the thyroid gland but a small amount is also stored in the bones and muscles. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, iodine promotes good thyroid health by supporting the production of certain hormones. These thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism in almost every cell in the human body and therefore can have a significant impact on your health. The list below outlines some of the main functions of iodine in the body:
– Assisting in the production of thyroxine (a thyroid hormone also known as T4 that regulates the generation of body heat and the use of oxygen in cells).
– Assisting in the production of triiodothyronine (a thyroid hormone also known as T3 that affects almost every process in the body including the generation of body heat, growth and heart rate).
– Maintaining a normal metabolic rate (which affects energy levels, growth and the amount of calories you burn).
– Moderating the effects of oestrogen on breast tissue (which helps prevent fibrocystic breast disease – a condition which leads to painful swelling in the breasts).
– Preventing the development of simple goiter (a condition which causes enlargement of the thyroid gland).
– Supporting the development of healthy hair, nails, skin and teeth.
– Supporting the development of a healthy, strong immune system in foetuses.
HOW MUCH IODINE DO YOU NEED?
Our need for iodine increases slightly as we get older and is greatest in pregnant and lactating women. This list below contains the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for iodine in milligrams (mg) which were established in 2001 by the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences:
– Children aged 0-6 months:- 0.11mg.
– Children aged 7-12 months:- 0.13mg.
– Children aged 1-8 years:- 0.09mg.
– Children aged 9-13 years:- 0.12mg.
– Adults aged 14 years and older:- 0.15mg.
– Pregnant women aged 14 years and older:- 0.22mg.
– Lactating women aged 14 years and older:- 0.29mg.
WHICH FOODS CONTAIN IODINE?
Dairy products, fish and certain fruits contain high levels of iodine. The list below contains some of the richest food sources:
– Eggs:- 0.026mg per 100g.
– Kelp:- 2.08mg per 100g.
– Iodised Salt:- 3mg per 100g.
– Oysters:- 0.157mg per 100g.
– Strawberries:- 0.09mg per 100g.
– Yogurt:- 0.034mg per 100g.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF GETTING TOO MUCH IODINE?
It is very difficult to overdose on iodine from food alone. However, it is possible to overdose through medications or supplements. Because of this the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has specified the following daily tolerable intake levels (TULs) for iodine:
– Children aged 1-3 years:- 0.9mg.
– Children aged 4-8 years:- 0.3mg.
– Children aged 9-13 years:- 0.6mg.
– Children aged 14-18 years:- 0.9mg.
– Adults aged 19 years and older:- 1.1mg.
– Pregnant and lactating women aged 14-18 years:- 0.9mg.
– Pregnant and lactating women aged 19 years and older:- 1.1mg.
Failing to stay within these TULs can lead to high levels of iodine in the body. This can have a number of negative effects which include:
– Burning in the mouth or throat.
– Reduced thyroid hormone synthesis (which can cause goiter and hypothyroidism – a condition where your body does not produce enough thyroid hormones).
– Stomach pain.
– Weak pulse.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOT GETTING ENOUGH IODINE?
Iodine deficiency is very rare in the UK due to the introduction of iodised salt and the addition of iodine to animal feed (which increases the iodine content of commonly consumed foods such as dairy products and meat). However, in countries where iodised salt is not common it can be a problem. Not having enough iodine in the body inhibits the production of thyroid hormones and can lead to the following negative consequences:
– Appetite fluctuations.
– Hyperthyroidism (a condition where your body over produces thyroid hormones).
– Rapid heartbeat.
– Severe mental retardation in infants.
– Stunted physical growth in infants.
– Weight gain.
Although it is only required by the body in relatively small amounts, iodine is a crucial nutrient. Without sufficient levels of this micromineral every cell in your body will struggle to break down food to get the energy it needs. I hope this article has helped you learn a little more about iodine.
Now I want to hear from you guys. Did you know much about iodine before reading this article? Do you think your diet contains enough? Let me know by posting a comment.