Iodine says, “I Rid the Body of Toxic Heavy Metals”

26 Nov 2018 10:59 AM | Aliya Umm Omar (Administrator)

The last time you might have heard anything about Iodine was probably in your science lesson or at your doctors who might have mentioned that you need iodine to fix your thyroid. However, Iodine is so much more than just a chemical element or something that helps your thyroid. This blog will tell you how else Iodine can help improve your health and wellbeing.

To start with the basics: Iodine is a chemical element with symbol ‘I’ on the periodic table. It exists as a lustrous, purple-black non-metallic solid which readily becomes a violet gas when heated. It was discovered by the French chemist Bernard Courtois in 1811. Courtois was extracting sodium and potassium compounds from seaweed ash. Once these compounds were removed, he added sulfuric acid to further process the ash. He accidentally added too much acid and a violet coloured cloud erupted. This gas condensed on metal objects in the room, creating solid iodine. It was named two years later by another French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac who proved that it was a new element and gave it the name of “iode” from the Greek “ioeides” meaning violet coloured.

Iodine is the fourth halogen, being a member of group 17 in the periodic table, below fluorine, chlorine, and bromine; it is the heaviest stable member of its group. The dominant producers of iodine today are Chile and Japan. 

Around 70 percent of iodine is found in the thyroid gland in the neck. The rest is in the blood, the muscles, the ovaries, and other parts of the body. Though iodine is essential to a wide number of bodily functions, the most important function of iodine occurs in the thyroid. Without iodine, no thyroid hormones would be synthesised. These hormones control metabolism, remove toxins, and utilise other minerals, such as calcium.

The amount of iodine in a food depends on how much iodine there is at the source of production. The amount of iodine in the soil where crops are grown, or where an animal is raised for meat will affect the amount of iodine in the food. Produce from the sea is a good source of iodine. Unfortunately, bromine, found in processed bread products, and fluoride, found in toothpaste and added to the water supply, deplete iodine in the body.

Iodine is also used as a test for starch and turns a deep blue when it comes in contact with it. Potassium iodide is used to make photographic film and, when mixed with iodine in alcohol, as an antiseptic for external wounds. 

A radioactive isotope of iodine, iodine-131, is used to treat some diseases of the thyroid gland and protects the thyroid from radiation. When nuclear emergencies arise, I-131, is released into the atmosphere where it can be taken up by the thyroid gland. To prevent this, governments and medical professionals provide non-radioactive iodine in the form of potassium iodide. If given at high enough doses – hundreds of times the normal dose – the good iodine saturates the thyroid gland, preventing the radioactive isotopes from entering. The dose is repeated once daily until the threat is gone.

Iodine Benefits

Necessary for Thyroid Hormone Production

The number one role of iodine in the body is the production of thyroid hormones. As a result, most of the body’s iodine is concentrated in the thyroid. The pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), which tells the thyroid how much T3 and T4 to produce. Iodine helps convert thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). This conversion is important for the thyroid to function properly. Your thyroid gland uses it to make thyroid hormones, which help control growth, repair damaged cells and support a healthy metabolism. 

Stress can increase the production of TSH, which affects how much T3 and T4 are produced, affecting metabolism. 

The hypothalamus, a gland in the brain, produces a thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) that also affects the production of thyroid hormones. Ensuring a healthy supply of iodine is important for a healthy thyroid.

Prevents Enlarged Thyroid Gland

Iodine deficiency is widely recognised as the primary cause of goiter. In fact, according to a meta-analysis out of China, lower urinary iodine concentration values “were associated with an increased risk of goiter, and … iodine deficiency may lead to an increased risk of goiter.” 

Add sea salt, seafood, raw milk and eggs to your diet to avoid iodine deficiency, as this often also works as a preventative step of an enlarged thyroid gland and other health problems. More about this later.

Boosts Metabolism and Energy

Iodine influences greatly the functioning of the thyroid glands by helping with the production of hormones directly responsible for controlling the body’s base metabolic rate. Metabolic rate ensures the efficiency of the body’s organ systems and biochemical processes, including sleep cycle, absorption of food and transformation of food into energy we can use. Hormones, like thyroxin and triiodothyronine, influence blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and weight. The basal metabolic rate is maintained by the body with the help of these hormones, which also plays a role in protein synthesis. 

Iodine plays a vital role in maintaining optimal energy levels of the body by the utilisation of calories, without allowing them to be deposited as excess fat.

Helps Prevent Certain Kinds of Cancer

Iodine plays a role in boosting immunity and inducing apoptosis, the self-destruction of dangerous, cancerous cells. While iodine assists in destroying mutated cells, it doesn’t destroy healthy cells in the process. Evidence shows the ability of iodine-rich seaweed to inhibit growth of breast tumour development.  This is supported by the low rate of breast cancer in parts of world, especially in Japan, where women consume a diet rich in iodine. 

Bromine plays a role here as well, as research shows bromine is a suspected carcinogen that “may exacerbate iodine insufficiency since bromine competes for iodine uptake by the thyroid gland and other tissues (i.e. breast).” 

Removes Toxic Heavy Metals from the Body

Elemental iodine falls within the halogen group on the periodic table of elements. The halogen group also includes chlorine, fluorine, and bromine. People use chlorine to disinfect pool water, but it can irritate the lungs, eyes, and skin. 

Fluoride (a form of fluorine) disrupts the way enzymes operate in the body, affecting cellular function, cell signaling, and the stress response. Scientists have linked brominated flame retardants to brain and thyroid dysfunction, preterm birth, and more.  These halogens are taken up by the thyroid, since they are chemically similar, preventing iodine from entering thyroid cells.

Saturating the thyroid with iodine promotes detoxification by prompting it to release undesirable halogens. It can also purge the system of toxic metals since iodine binds to such elements in the body.

Iodine supplementation may help you detox from heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and aluminum. Dr. David Brownstein, author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It / Why You Can’t Live Without It and an expert in iodine, states that “Iodine is a chelator of mercury. It will bind with mercury and allow the body to release [it]."

Boosts Immunity

Iodine can clean up and destroy most types of harmful organisms. Because of this, medical professionals use it to clean wounds and prepare you for some surgeries. But these properties can also benefit your immune system. Iodine helps defend against harmful cells, a process called apoptosis. Iodine also acts as an antioxidant that scavenges free radicals in the body. It increases the activity of antioxidants throughout the body to provide a strong defensive measure against various diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Recent studies have shown that iodine directly protects the brain cells of rats from the harmful effects of free radicals by bonding onto fatty acids in the cell membrane, leaving less room for free radicals to have a negative impact on the organism. 

Helps Prevent Impaired Development and Growth in Children

Pregnant women need more iodine than usual because this mineral is necessary for proper brain development of the unborn child. A breastfeeding woman needs even more iodine to ensure she gets enough for herself and her baby. 

Studies have shown that iodine deficiency during infancy and pregnancy can interrupt healthy brain development and growth. Infants are more susceptible to mortality and high risk for neurodegenerative problems if iodine-deficient, such as a mental form of disability known as cretinism, motor function problems, learning disabilities and low growth rate.

According to research published by professors at the University of Sydney in Australia and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Sweden, “Brain damage and irreversible mental retardation are the most important disorders induced by iodine deficiency.” 

The most critical phase of brain development is during pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, but iodine supports healthy brain function throughout life. It’s extremely important for those planning to conceive to have optimum iodine levels. Continue taking iodine through breastfeeding to ensure your baby has an adequate supply of iodine, too.

Promotes Healthy Hair and Skin

It’s clear that getting adequate iodine in your diet plays a role in ensuring healthy skin, nails, and hair. Dry, irritated and rough skin that becomes flaky and inflamed is a common sign of iodine deficiency. Iodine helps with the formation of shiny and healthy skin, hair and teeth and is an important trace element, as a lack of iodine results in hair loss.

In animal studies, iodine deficiency was linked to a lack of hair growth. Individuals born with cretinism have less hair than normal and thick, dry skin. 

Supports Women’s Health

Iodine helps with women’s reproductive health and breast health. Studies show that moderate iodine deficiencies may reduce a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Severe iodine deficiencies may also lead to miscarriage. Even mildly low iodine levels in pregnant women are linked with greater oxidative stress – a reduction in the body’s ability to break down free radicals – which leads to complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and preterm birth.

Iodine-deficiency is also a risk factor for developing polycystic ovary syndrome, in which cysts or benign growths develop in the ovaries. This condition starts off harmless but may affect hormone balance. 

Like thyroid tissue, breast tissue absorbs iodine, and breast conditions and iodine deficiencies may be connected.

Women with low thyroid activity (hypothyroidism) also may experience water retention, which leads to puffy, swollen skin.

First Aid Essential

Iodine has a long history as a must-have tool for first aid, and you may find iodine packets in some first aid kits. These are typically povidone-iodine solution on a small wipe and used topically to cleanse wounds. Some first aid kits also include iodine crystal tablets for treating water in emergency conditions. Iodine tablets provide a faster method of water treatment compared with boiling.

How Much Iodine Do You Need?

Life Stage

Iodine required per day (mcg)

18+ Women and Men      

150

Pregnant or Lactating Women     

220-250

Breastfeeding Women     

250-290

Infants birth-6 months   

110 (if not breastfeeding)

7-12 months       

130 (if not breastfeeding)

People with hypothyroidism— low thyroid function – generally experience weight gain, which can also lead to sluggish feelings, brain fog, and low energy. Low iodine levels, genetics, and other conditions can cause hypothyroidism. 

People with hyperthyroidism– overactive thyroid – often have trouble gaining weight. An overactive thyroid produces too much of the T3 and T4 hormones, which uses up all the body’s iodine, so sometimes supplementing with iodine helps, even though it seems counter-intuitive. However, always consult with your doctor first.  

Importance of Iodine Co-factors

Most vitamins and minerals need certain other vitamins and minerals to perform their necessary functions perfectly. These are called cofactors or companion nutrients. Important cofactors for iodine include selenium (minimum 200 mg per day), magnesium (minimum 400 mg per day), vitamin C (minimum 2,000-3,000 mg per day), and vitamins B2 and B3 (100 mg riboflavin and 500 mg niacin per day). Vitamin B1 (thiamin) may also be required to activate the thyroid hormone.

Iodine Sources

Iodine-rich soil is found by the coasts, so one is much more likely to experience iodine deficiency in the middle regions of the country. However, the soil has been depleted of every mineral in recent decades, leading to iodine deficiency in soils everywhere. This adds up to simply not enough iodine in our diet, even if we eat a whole foods diet. Boosting your intake of iodine-rich foods is a great start, but also consider adding with a quality iodine supplement as well.


Foods rich in Iodine 

Seaweed▪

▪Foods from the Ocean:Since iodine occurs in ocean sediments and ocean water, top sources include seafood, shellfish, and sea vegetables or seaweed such as wakame, dulse, or nori – which are iodine superfoods. A sheet of seaweed may contain between 16-3,000 mcg of iodine. Unfortunately, food from the ocean can be subject to various pollutants.

Blueberries

Yogurt*

Cheese*

Navy beans

Strawberries

Potatoes

*Dairy Products:Milk products often contain iodine due to the use of iodine-containing antiseptics on dairy equipment and to clean the teats of cows, although this usage is declining. As a result, milk products may or may not contain iodine, depending on the dairy farm it comes from. For people who follow a plant-based diet, dairy isn't a viable solution.

Eggs

Fish

Green beans

Bananas

Prunes

→Whichever one you choose, make sure you're getting a product that's organic, deep-earth sourced, and produced without harsh chemicals or alcohol.

Types of Iodine

There are a number of forms of iodine supplements. It may be taken orally or topically:

Nascent iodine- sometimes called atomic iodine, where iodine is in a free ionic state, unbound to another atom, giving it an electromagnetic charge and reported better absorption in the body when consumed orally. Nascent, colloidal iodine is more readily absorbed by the body than other forms, which means it is more bioavailable. The body recognises nascent iodine as what it uses to make the T3 and T4 hormones.

Potassium iodide -comes in tablets or liquid. It is the most common form of iodine, and most inexpensive to produce. 

Doctors give patients SSKI as an expectorant to help clear mucus, to prepare for surgery, and in rare circumstances of exposure to nuclear outfall to treat radiation. Sometimes, sodium iodide is also used to remedy deficiencies. Only about 20% of potassium iodide is absorbed by the digestive tract, and thus not the best choice for iodine supplementation. 

 

Lugol’s iodine –or Lugol’s Solution, is one of the most common iodine supplements. Lugol’s is an aqueous solution containing one part free elemental iodine to two parts potassium iodide in distilled water. Although Lugol’s contains just 2-5 percent iodine, the free iodine is more potent, so it is sometimes called strong iodine solution. Lugol’s has been used for decades as a disinfectant, in dental settings, in various medical procedures, and as a pre-operative treatment for patients with Grave’s disease headed for thyroidectomy (thyroid removal). Breast tissue favours this type, and it has also been found to help inhibit hormone secretion. A palm-sized amount of Lugol’s is usually used to paint on the skin.

Painting is applying a solution topically to the skin. The idea behind this method is that the body will only consume that which it truly needs, and you can actually measure and observe the amount taken in. It also allows the iodine to reach the ideal destination in a higher concentration. One study found that iodine bioavailability increased seven times when painted on the problem area.

Povidone-Iodine Solution - is a powerful antiseptic and disinfectant. This form is commonly used in first aid kits and medical settings to clean wounds and sterilise skin before major or minor surgery. This is not typically taken orally, although some people use it as a mouthwash. 

Tincture of Iodine - elemental iodine is suspended in water and ethanol. A weak iodine tincture is about 2-7 percent iodine, while a strong tincture is 7 percent or higher. Both strengths are used as antiseptics, and are used topically rather than taken orally. Some people use a tincture of iodine for what's called the iodine patch test, a popular but unreliable method of testing for iodine deficiency. An iodine loading test is a far more reliable measure of iodine levels, but must be done by a healthcare professional.

Precautions

Although iodine is imperative for thyroid health and can be a cure for those with hypothyroidism and even hyperthyroidism, it is not recommended for those with the autoimmune thyroid disease Hashimoto’s.

Those taking high blood pressure medications, diuretics, or anti-thyroid medications should not supplement iodine, or should first consult their physician to be sure iodine supplementation would not interfere with their medication.

Iodine overdose of more than 2,000 milligrams could be dangerous, especially in individuals who are diagnosed with tuberculosis or kidney disease. Iodine in excess could result in thyroid papillary cancer and hyperthyroidism rather than prevention. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should be cautious not to take iodine except in specifically prescribed doses.

A healthy balance is required, but different people’s bodies will react differently to dose amounts. People who have Hashimoto’s, thyroiditis or particular cases of hypothyroid individuals should speak with their doctors to discuss how much, if any, iodine should be taken through careful supplementation.

Care should be taken in handling and using pure iodine. It can burn the skin and damage the eyes and mucous membranes. Pure iodine is poisonous if ingested.

To Sum Up…

Iodine and thyroid hormones play a crucial role in supporting brain function, including mental wellness and mood. 

Some studies have linked developmental conditions, such as ADHD and autism to low iodine during pregnancy or childhood. The role the thyroid has on adult psychiatric conditions remains unclear, but given iodine’s critical role in brain development, ensuring an adequate supply for overall mental wellness is a good idea.

Iodine doesn’t just affect the thyroid; it does many other things, including playing an important role as an immune booster, boosting antioxidant functions, maintaining the integrity of the mammary gland as well as antibacterial properties, particularly against H. pylori, which is a bacterial infection in the stomach and associated with gastric cancer. 

From this blog it seems that those experiencing infertility, constipation, mood disorders, and those with mental or physical impairments or planning to get pregnant would benefit greatly from iodine supplementation as well as eating more iodine rich foods.

Source

https://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele053.html

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/288471.php

https://www.thefamilythathealstogether.com/iodine-benefits/

https://draxe.com/iodine-deficiency/

https://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/iodine-guide-to-health-benefits/

https://articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/iodine.aspx
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