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Iodine

What does iodine do?
Iodine is a trace mineral needed to make thyroid hormones, which are necessary for maintaining normal metabolism in all cells of the body.

Reports suggest that iodine may have a number of other important functions in the body unrelated to thyroid function that might help people with a wide variety of conditions.1 These other uses for iodine are only supported by minimal research.

Where is iodine found?
Seafood, iodized salt, and sea vegetables—for example, kelp—are high in iodine. Processed food may contain added iodized salt. Iodine is frequently found in dairy products. Vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil also contain this mineral.

Iodine has been used in connection with the following conditions
(refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Rating
Health Concerns
dd

Childhood intelligence in newborns (if deficient)
Goiter (iodine deficiency-induced)

dsd

Hypothyroidism

sd

Fibrocystic breast disease

Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.


Who is likely to be deficient of iodine?
People who avoid dairy, seafood, processed food, and iodized salt can become deficient. Iodine deficiency can cause low thyroid function, goiter, and cretinism. Although iodine deficiencies are now uncommon in Western societies, the U.S. population has shown a trend of significantly decreasing iodine intake from 1988–1994.2 If this trend continues, iodine deficiency diseases may become more common.

How much iodine is usually taken?
Since the introduction of iodized salt, iodine supplements are unnecessary and not recommended for most people. For strict vegetarians who avoid salt and sea vegetables, 150 mcg per day is commonly supplemented. This amount is adequate to prevent a deficiency and higher amounts are not necessary.

Are there any side effects or interactions with iodine?
High amounts (several milligrams per day) of iodine can interfere with normal thyroid function and should not be taken without consulting a doctor.3 Although potassium iodide supplementation (prescribed for some skin disorders) is usually well-tolerated, it has been known to produce adverse reactions such as rashes, itching or lesions on the skin, gastrointestinal symptoms, or hypothyroidism, especially in people with a prior history of thyroid problems.4 Because of such potential problems, the use of potassium iodide therapy should be supervised by a doctor. The average diet provides about four times the recommended amount of iodine. For susceptible people, that amount of iodine may be enough to cause health problems.5 A possible link to thyroid cancer has been observed in areas where an iodine-rich diet is consumed,6 7 and among populations that supplement with iodine.8 9 However, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that iodine supplementation is responsible for the increased incidence of thyroid cancer. Some people react to supplemental iodine, the first symptom of which is usually an acne-like rash.

When people with small, nontoxic goiter (living in areas not deficient in iodine) received iodine injections, they had a higher incidence of abnormal antibodies suggestive of the early stages of autoimmune thyroid disease.10

Children with iodine deficiency may also have iron-deficiency anemia, and this anemia may interfere with the therapeutic action of iodine supplementation.11 Correcting iron deficiency in such children with iron supplements has been shown to improve the efficacy of oral iodine in treating goiter.12

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with iodine.



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