Iodine is from the Greek word “ioedes” meaning violet-coloured. It is a non-metallic element which occurs as a black crystalline substance.
When it is boiled it gives off a characteristic violet vapour. Iodine is unusual as it is able to evaporate to a gas directly from the solid crystal form. The early eighteenth century French physician Jean Lugol realized that iodine kills germs.
He also realized that were two types of iodine used in the body. He noticed that this mixture was more effective at fighting infectious diseases. This became known as Lugol’s Solution and was widely used throughout Europe and North America until the early 1900’s. Over time iodine solutions became commonly used to wash skin before surgeries.
It is important to note that our bodies require and use both forms; iodine as the pure crystal which consists of two iodine molecules bound together, and potassium iodide which is an iodine molecule bound to a potassium molecule. These are often referred to as iodine and iodide when distinguishing between the two.
This is a relevant distinction as each of the two substances is concentrated in and used by different parts of the body. The thyroid, which gets first crack at iodine in the body, prefers the iodide form and may retain as much as 6 or 7 milligrams per day.
This daily amount is necessary to keep this important gland operating at optimum efficiency. Any additional iodine is distributed throughout the body in varying amounts. The tissues outside of the thyroid prefer the iodine form, with the breasts retaining as much as 5 milligrams per day. This suggests then that the optimal daily intake of iodine is approximately 12.5 mg per day in a combination of the two forms. Kelp capsules are commonly 0.15 mg. To supplement 12.5 mg per day with kelp we would have to swallow eighty three capsules of kelp daily.
Iodine deficiency is strongly linked to under-active thyroid and cancer. People who are treated for hypothyroidism using the natural or synthetic hormones may respond well to this therapy but still need to ensure an adequate daily intake of iodine to avoid raising their risk of any cancer, and particularly breast cancer. When people have overactive thyroid, body parts outside of the thyroid are usually robbed of iodine and we then still need to supplement with iodine.
The importance of the thyroid cannot be overstated. It acts primarily as a warehouse for iodine which it uses to protect the lungs and bronchial tree from airborne pollutants, and to cleanse or condition the blood as it circulates from the heart to that vast array of arteries supplying blood to the head and brain. Additionally, iodine is combined with the amino acid tyrosine to form thyroid hormones which are involved in almost every process in the body.
Eating vegetables from gardens in which seaweed has been used as compost also contributes to achieving a healthy diet. Geographically speaking, the evidence relating iodine intake and the incidence of goiter and cancer continues to mount. People in Japan have one of the highest dietary intakes of iodine and they have the lowest incidence of breast cancer and heart disease. They also have very low incidences of almost every other form of cancer including that of the prostate. Another country with a high daily intake of iodine is Iceland, which not surprisingly also has very low rates of goiter and breast cancer.
Benefit of maintaining a healthy level of iodine Another exceptional benefit of maintaining a healthy level of iodine is its’ ability to rid the body of potentially harmful elements such as chlorine, bromine, fluorine, lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum and mercury.
Recent research suggests that to effectively rid the body of these materials we would require a daily dose higher than the 12.5 mg suggested above. Therapeutic doses are commonly over 100 mg per day. We suggest starting easy and working up over a couple of months to allow a gradual detoxification, particularly the heavy metals. Such doses are not out of the question though, as iodine alone is not toxic to the body.
In fact, many commonly prescribed drugs contain iodine with doses as high as 145mg. Starting abruptly with a high dose may bring on headache and vomiting due to a sudden release of toxins. For some people that are more toxic I recommend starting at 3 mg per day and there are even those whom we start as low as one per week. If detoxification is too rapid and discomfort occurs, the symptoms usually subside within one day or even a few hours.
The benefits are worth the bother. Ever wonder why we take some supplements when nothing seems to happen? This is one supplement that is worth the bother. Eighty percent of the active iodine is utilized outside of the thyroid. The noted sites are the brain, eyes, kidney, liver, skin and fat tissue. It is used to reduce brain fog and memory loss. It combats rosacea and acne. We need extra during pregnancy and breast-feeding to ensure healthy development of growing tissues. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation. It is used by the body to protect us from bladder infections and kidney stones. The liver uses twenty percent of its iodine each day to keep the bowel healthy and helps us to avoid constipation. Recent medical study has shown that there is a relationship between bowel movements and Parkinson’s disease.
This study indicates that those of us who have a regular bowel movement have lower rates of Parkinson’s disease. Our research has us believing that one of the links is iodine, among others.
The skin & Iodine The skin uses iodine to repair wounds, reduce scar tissue and combat skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema. Below the skin and throughout the body iodine is helpful to convert fat into energy. When we have the really stubborn fat that won’t go away, it may be a deficiency of iodine. Typical supplements contain 0.15 mg of iodine and this is simply not enough for our needs. Even with the perfect diet as noted in Merck Manual, a respected medical textbook, we are often deficient in iodine. I like to indicate that the level of pollution currently on the planet is such that most everyone is not meeting their needs to maintain health.
As always, consult your doctor(s) before changing any of your health plans, this infomation here is for you to be able to make informed choices so that you can discuss with your doctor(s) how best to address any issues you feel need attention.
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