Functions of Iodine in the Body
Iodine is primarily needed for producing thyroid hormones. These hormones control the metabolism of energy.
Iodine prevents goiters. It also prevents cretinism, a retardation of the body and mind.
Rich Sources of Iodine
Not all types of food contain iodine. Depending on the type of soil and its iodine content, a fruit or vegetable can have iodine or not. For instance, foods that are found in the ocean or grown near it have a higher iodine content. Some of its food sources include iodized salt, bread products fortified with iodine, seafood and dairy products. Seaweeds are also rich sources of iodine. It is not recommended to eat too much seaweed as this may cause the body to have too much iodine.
There are also vegan supplements that can be bought from natural food retail establishments or grocery stores. Most of these types of supplements contain iodine.
Too Little or Too Much Iodine in the Body
Too little or too much iodine is not good for the body as it can lead to an abnormal metabolism in the thyroid. A deficiency of iodine during pregnancy or early infancy can lead to cretinism, which is an irreversible medical condition. Iodine-deficiency in the body is called hypothyroidism. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include low levels of energy, scaly, yellowish or dry skin, weight gain, personality changes, anemia, heavy and prolonged menstruation periods in women, numbness or tingling in the extremities, depression and forgetfulness. A deficiency in iodine can also lead to Raynaud’s Phenomenon (incidences where blood flow is lost to the toes, nose, fingers and ears) and carpal tunnel syndrome. Hypothyroidism can also result in an increase in homocysteine and cholesterol levels in the body. Having enough iodine in the body reduces cholesterol levels by at least 30%.
Too much iodine is not advisable either as it can lead to hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism causes metabolism to increase, which can result in weight loss.
Iodine and Goiter
Goiter is a medical condition where the thyroid glands are enlarged. Goiter occurs when certain components, usually found in foods, counteract iodine. These components are called goitrogens. These goitrogens can often be found in soy, broccoli, cauliflower, flax seeds, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Thus, eating lots of soy products combined with not enough iodine intake can worsen iodine deficiency. Perchlorate can also interfere with the function of the thyroid. This interference will be worsened if the body has insufficient iodine.