That iodine is related to the thyroid is well known. But the trace element has even more benefits that are important to your performance.
But what are Iodine’s benefits?
Iodine is not an easy companion, because both an iodine deficiency and an overdose have serious consequences for the body. Here you will learn more about Iodine and its benefits.
What is Iodine?
Iodine is one of the trace elements. In fact, it is a mineral that occurs in very small amounts in the body, including the thyroid, in the muscles, in the skin and body fat.
Since the body can not produce the nutrient itself, it has to be absorbed through the diet just like iron and zinc. However, the thyroid can store iodine and even tap the need off of reserves for up to three months.
According to the recommendation of the German Nutrition Society, 200 micrograms per day should be consumed per day, pregnant women up to 230 micrograms.
However, the recommended daily dose increases when you do a lot of sports because iodine is excreted in the sweat. Even if you bring mental peak performance, your need for iodine increases.
For nursing mothers too, because they have to provide their baby with the valuable trace element sufficient for growth and development to run smoothly.
What are Iodine’s Benefits?
Iodine is absolutely vital and has many benefits. Although the body needs only a small amount of it, iodine is essential for your body.
Our nerve cells need iodine, our brain needs iodine, our thyroid needs iodine – the list can be continued for a long time, because, among other things, iodine benefits:
- the cognitive abilities
- the energy metabolism
- the nerve function
- the preservation of the skin
- the Thyroid function
- protects the body from toxins
- it’s a natural antiseptic
- prevents hair loss
- strengthens teeth and bones
- prevents cancer
In addition – and this is probably the most well-known benefit of iodine – the trace element supports the thyroid function and the production of thyroid hormones.
Thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) require iodine as a building block to be fully effective. Because the two hormones affect the growth, energy metabolism, the development of the brain and a healthy bone structure. If the body lacks iodine, the thyroid gland does not get going – and that affects all metabolic processes.
Take-Home-Message # 1: Iodine is an essential trace element that is important for the thyroid and all metabolic processes and has great benefits.
If your body gets too little iodine, you notice this in an enlargement of the thyroid, which manifests itself in a visible goiter.
However, hypothyroidism can also be caused by too little iodine. An iodine deficiency is noticeable, for example, by the following signs:
- lack of concentration
- declining brain power
- swollen eyelids
- a strong feeling of cold
- dry skin
Memory can be prevented by a sufficient supply of iodine, as a study by the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine shows.
However, since both iodine deficiency and excess iodine can affect your health and fitness, you should not immediately counteract mass iodine at the first signs.
For safety, it makes sense to test for suspected iodine deficiency, such as by examining the urine or the blood. Only if there is a deficiency iodine intake should be increased.
However, there is actually evidence of an iodine deficiency in the population. As early as 1997, Germany was officially advertised as an iodine deficient area based on studies by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment.
Although the use of iodized table salt reduced goiter formation, off-shore regions are still considered low in iodine.
Take-home message # 2: An iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism and affect your performance. Since Germany is considered an iodine deficiency area, you should pay attention to an adequate supply of the trace element.
Of course, it is always best to compensate for iodine deficiency with a natural diet.
Foods rich in iodine come mainly from the sea because fish and algae are among the top suppliers. Also, salt, which is enriched with iodine, has been available for decades to buy and has prevailed as a remedy for an undersupply of the trace element. Because in many regions, iodine occurs only in small amounts in the soil and drinking water, a deficiency is inevitable.
With these iodine-containing foods, you can cover your daily needs:
The quality of the fish is important in order to preserve the benefits of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids instead of unwanted toxins and heavy metals. Because the nutrient combination is great support for your brain.
Eggs and dairy products also contain some iodine if you are not one of the biggest fish eaters. However, this is mainly because the animals are fed with iodine-containing feed so that the animal natural products contain more iodine.
For some algae, caution should be taken: First, their iodine content varies greatly, second, they can contain an iodine content of 11,000 micrograms per gram, which can lead to a proper overdose.
Especially brown algae like arame, kombu, wa, ame and hijik contain high amounts of the trace element and quickly lead to an overdose. Nevertheless, algae are – in moderation – a valuable source of iodine for vegans who completely dispense with animal products.
In Japan, algae in various variations are among the daily meals. In sushi, in soups, as a salad or as a snack in between, the vegetarian food from the sea is very popular.
The iodine intake of Japanese is correspondingly high. A good reason to look at it in a study.
Thus, a daily dose of 1 to 3 milligrams does not appear to have any negative effects on health, on the contrary, to promote good health. Algae, such as spirulina or chlorella, are also a good supplement as a dietary supplement, if the iodine is insufficient in the food supplied.
Herbal sources of iodine are also:
- Lamb’s lettuce
However, there are also foods that prevent or limit the absorption of iodine. They should rarely be consumed in iodine deficiency. These include:
In general: Foods with iodine should be the basis for the daily supply since the trace element can be better utilized by the interaction with other vital substances.
Take-home message # 3: Natural foods can meet the need for iodine, especially fish, seafood and algae. However, the latter should not be eaten in excessive amounts as their iodine content can be very high.
Not only a lack of iodine but also too much can cause discomfort.
In Germany, the recommendation is not to permanently exceed a maximum daily dose of 500 micrograms. As mentioned above ve, Japanese even seem to tolerate a dose of 1 to 3 milligrams well.
Nevertheless, it makes little sense to over-fill the iodine storage for a long time. The symptoms of too much iodine in the body are similar to those of iodine deficiency.
Strange as it may be, hypothyroidism can also be caused by too much iodine, although it is actually a typical consequence of iodine deficiency.
An experiment with male rats also showed that prolonged overdose of iodine can have negative effects on testosterone levels, reproductive organs, and the formation of oxygen radicals.
Iodine is, therefore, a necessary trace element, but it should certainly be treated with care.
Independent experiments with iodine tablets are therefore not a good idea because your iodine needs should be medically secured.
Nevertheless, enough fish and seafood on the menu are recommended, because they contain in addition to the essential trace element also a lot of other important vitamins and good omega-3 fatty acids.
Take-home message # 4: An iodine overdose also has a negative effect on the thyroid gland and can influence testosterone production. Therefore, you should not overdo it with your iodine intake.
Conclusion: Iodine Benefits
All in all, Iodine has great benefits and is essential for all of us.
Still, don’t overdo it since you’ll run the risk of overdosing. I’d recommend implementing Iodine rich foods such as fish in your diet.