Iodine was discovered in the 1800s and has been widely used in the treatment of goiter ever since. In 1924, Americans have started to use it as an additive to table salt in order to address the high prevalence of iodine deficiency.
While the fact that iodized salt is enough to meet body`s requirements, studies show that iodine in table salt has quite poor absorption, which means that the body doesn’t fully absorb it.
Recommended Daily Allowance
For adults, the RDA of iodine is 150 micrograms, for pregnant women 220 micrograms, and it`s 290 micrograms for lactating women. These dosages were established to prevent goiter, but they don’t supply the body with enough quantities needed for optimal thyroid, immune system, and endocrine system function.
According to findings of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, iodized salt hasn’t helped eliminate iodine deficiency whatsoever. They have indicated quite low levels of iodine in over 50 percent of the population.
Healthy iodine levels are vital for all aspects of health; as a matter of fact, doctors have used iodine in medical practice in the past, typically using a gram of potassium iodide, which contains 770 mg of iodine.
According to Dr. Albert S. Gyorgi (1893–1986), the physician who discovered vitamin C, “When I was a medical student, iodine in the form of KI was the universal medicine. Nobody knew what it did, but it did something and did something good. We students used to sum up the situation in this little rhyme:
If ye don’t know where, what, and why
Prescribe ye then K and I.”
Iodine’s Role in the Body
Not only iodine has critical role in thyroid function and proper metabolism, but it is also needed for healthy immunity and offers many therapeutic benefits like anticancer, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antibacterial properties.
Apart from the thyroid, the glandular system is yet another storage site for iodine. The brain, prostate, breasts, and ovaries also contain high amounts of iodine, and literally every cell in the body relies on this element. In case of iodine deficiency, all storage sites become depleted, increasing the risk for many conditions, even cancer.
Hypothyroidism and Its Symptoms
As explained in the book Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, the thyroid needs iodine for the production of its hormones and regulation of body`s metabolism. Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by a low metabolic rate and symptoms like dry skin, muscle cramps, cold hands and feet, inability to concentrate, menstrual irregularities, poor memory, high cholesterol levels, puffy eyes, and weight gain. This condition is very common in iodine deficient individuals and it has been found that iodine supplementation goes a long way in improving its symptoms.
Iodine As An Anti-Cancer Nutrient
The natural life cycle of healthy cells revolves around growth, division, and death. Apoptosis is a natural process, referring to the death of body`s cells. The already exhausted cells are continually swapped for new cells. Apoptosis regulates cell division and ensures normal life cycle. However, abnormal cells naturally don’t undergo this process and their abnormal growth eventually wreaks havoc to the body.
It has been scientifically shown that iodine is a potent anticancer nutrient that supports apoptosis when taken in large quantities, meaning quantities exceeding the RDA. It has been also shown that chronic deficiency and the inability t use iodine set the stage for breast cancer, uterus cancer, prostate cancer, and ovaries cancer.
Causes of Iodine Deficiency
The most common causes and contributing factors for iodine deficiency are as follows:
- Deforestation, poor farming practices, and soil erosion, all of which deplete minerals from the soil, causing the crops to be low in iodine
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- The replacement of iodine as bread dough ingredient which resulted in thyroid disorders and thyroid cancer
- Exposure to chlorine and fluoride
Sources of Iodine
- Sea weed are quite concentrated source of iodine
- Soil around oceans is an excellent source of iodine
- Sea veggies, animals that graze near coastal areas
- Crops grown in iodine-rich soil
Testing for Iodine Levels
The research done by physicians Guy Abraham, M.D. (former professor of medicine at UCLA); David Brownstein, M.D. (author and Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in W. Bloomfield, MI); and Jorge Flechas, M.D. (Director of Flechas Family Practice in Hendersonville, N.C.), shows one again that the body needs more iodine than the suggested RDA.
Guy Abraham, Brownstein and Flechas have created a method of measuring iodine levels that is based on two parts. The first one is urinary spot test and the second involves urine loading test. The first one is designed to establish the baseline of iodine in the body and is followed by supplementation with 50 mg of iodine and 24-hour collection of the urine. Both samples are then sent to laboratory for testing.