It feels like it’s been a while since I last wrote about a mineral. Let’s talk about iodine, one of the most misunderstood minerals of our time.
Iodine is seen chiefly as a thyroid regulating nutrient because too much or too little will cause problems there. However, iodine plays a crucial role in many bodily functions as well. For men, having inadequate iodine means an increase in the incidence of prostate cancer, a decrease in energy and testosterone, and an increase in weight.
I also forgot to mention the depression.
If the deficiency gets bad enough, you’ll get goiter, which is when your thyroid gets angry and swells up to a giant lump in your neck.
Sure, we’ve come a long way and started adding just the bare minimum of iodine (measured in micrograms) to salt to keep goiter away, but the actual amounts vary and may be much lower than advertised on the package. Even worse, many things in the SAD such as bromine and chlorine (same column in Periodic Table) are added to processed, packaged and preserved foods which just so happen to displace iodine or otherwise interfere with its place in the thyroid. Don’t even get me started on what’s in the water.
How do you get more healthy iodine in the diet?
Seafood contains a fair amount of iodine, and contains many trace minerals that are simply great for you. Perhaps this supports the Aquatic Ape Theory and that we came from the sea, and must eat food from the sea… but Americans are bad at eating seafood. For shame.
Another source which most people (at least the ones I know) can stomach is kelp. Seaweed. Eat it! Avoid the supplement forms and get the whole form.
If you’ve ever had sushi, the green stuff surrounding the outside or the filling inside the rice is seaweed. I’ve seen dried seaweed sheets popping up in convenience stores, and it’s usually available at most grocery stores and Asian markets. Buy organic and low in toxic minerals if it’s not too difficult, otherwise just get your hands on some of that iodine.
Normally I would recommend a supplement, but this is one of those cases where a supplement can do more harm than good. From what I’ve read, supplemental iodine tends to accumulate in the liver and can be bad news if taken too fast, too soon. Unless you know you are dangerously low in iodine and absolutely need to take it in that form, don’t bother. Otherwise, the go-to for most people is Lugol’s iodine solution, diluted in water. I just stay away from supplements of iodine because I always have bundles of seaweed on hand.
An interesting note: One theory as to why the Japanese don’t o/d on iodine despite getting very high amounts from their seaweed is that seaweed contains a balanced amount of bromine as well, so this somehow helps the body to remove excess amounts safely in the urine. [CITATION NEEDED. Actually, I only forgot where I read this.]
iodine – WHFoods.com
The Iodine Deficiency Epidemic – T-Nation.com