Iodine is a bluish-black, lustrous solid that sublimes at standard temperatures into a blue-violet gas that has an irritating odor.
Iodine is used in the production of hormones (such as thyroxine, thyroxin) by the thyroid gland, which in turn regulates the conversion of fat to energy, stabilizing our body weight as well as controlling our cholesterol levels.
Food Sources of Iodine
Iodine is a trace element found in seawater, rocks and in some types of soil. Good food sources include sea fish and shellfish. It may also be found in asparagus, dulse, garlic,lima beans, mushrooms, sea salt (which provides nature's own balance of minerals), sesame seeds, soybeans, spinach (but see Caution, below), summer squash, Swiss chard, and turnip greens. Iodine can also be found in plant foods such as cereals and grains but the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants are grown. In the UK, iodine can also be found in cows' milk.
Benefits and Functions of Iodine
Kelp is a natural source of iodine as is most seafood. Almost all the iodine we consume is used by the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine, an important hormone for growth and metabolism. The chief storehouse of iodine in the body is the thyroid gland . Thyroxine, which is secreted by this gland, contains iodine. This iodine is obtained from the food that is eaten. Small doses of iodine are of great value in the prevention of goitre in areas where it is endemic, and are of value in treatment in the early stages. Larger doses have a temporary value in patients with hyperthyroidism who are being prepared for surgical operation.
Having 0.5 mg or less a day of iodine supplements is unlikely to cause any harm.
What are the deficiency symptoms of Iodine?
An iodine deficiency may result in rough wrinkled skin, unhealthy hair, anaemia, fatigue, low blood pressure, lethargy or goitre.
In areas where there is little iodine in the diet - typically remote inland areas where no marine foods are eaten - iodine deficiency gives rise to goitre, so called endemic goitre In many (but not all) such areas, this is now prevented by the addition of small amounts of iodine to table salt in form of sodium iodide, potassium iodide, potassium iodate - this product is known as iodised salt
Overdosage Signs of Iodine
Taking high doses of iodine for long periods of time could change the way your thyroid gland works. This can lead to a wide range of different symptoms, for example weight gain.