What is Iodine?
Iodine is an element with the atomic number 53 and the atomic symbol I, it is the heaviest halogen, being placed at the top of their row on the periodic table of elements. It was discovered in 1811 by Bernard Courtois, and it was named iodine after the Greek name for the term “violet-colored,” thanks to the predominantly violet iodine colour.
Iodine is an essential nutrient, meaning that the human body is unable to produce it. Since there are relatively few sources of iodine, it is typically added to table salt to ensure that people get the amount of iodine that they need in their diets, though this has become less of an issue over time.
Iodine is typically consumed orally, and it is used to help treat a lack of iodine in the people who are consuming it. One of the most interesting uses of iodine is as an emergency medicine to help people avoid sustaining damage to their thyroid gland after they have dealt with radiation poisoning.
What is Iodine Used For?
Iodine for Wounds
One of the most common historical uses of iodine has been in wound treatment, and it has proven to be relatively effective, though modern antibacterials and antimicrobials have proven to be a bit more effective. Regardless, if you have nothing else available, iodine can be an effective choice.
In most cases, it’s a good idea to use an iodine solution to treat wounds that have a chance of becoming infected because of iodine’s ability to kill microbes, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi. It is even effective at neutralising viruses, and it can effectively be used to treat both chronic and acute wounds.
Improved Thyroid Health
One of the most significant benefits of consuming iodine is that it can help ensure healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. The thyroid is responsible for regulating the production of hormones, and these hormones are responsible for controlling your heart health and metabolism. The thyroid gland essentially uses iodine to create the hormones that we’ve discussed.
A low amount of iodine can result in hypothyroidism, which can cause issues in the systems that we mentioned, like the metabolic system and your cardiovascular system. Keep in mind that having too much iodine in your diet can also cause negative effects, so it’s good to balance your intake.
Iodine and Neurodevelopment in Pregnancy
When you’re pregnant, you need to make sure that your iodine intake is increased. This is due to the importance of iodine in the brain development of foetuses. A scholarly review discovered that iodine deprivation in mothers led to lower IQ and potential delays in intellectual development.
Compared to regular, healthy adults, pregnant women have to take more iodine while they’re pregnant, amounting to a daily dose of about 220 mcg compared to the usual dose of 150 mcg. This is why most prenatal vitamins come with a good dose of iodine in them, though if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor about an iodine supplement.
Iodine Deficiency Symptoms
There are a few key symptoms that will clue you into the fact that you’re suffering from iodine deficiency. The most common one, and the easiest one to notice, is that you’re dealing with neck swelling, especially in the front of your neck. This is caused by the thyroid gland becoming enlarged, and is known as a goitre.
The thyroid gland becomes enlarged when this happens because it works harder to produce the hormones that it needs iodine for. In most cases, this can be treated by simply increasing the amount of iodine in your diet, and it usually won’t end up becoming a permanent or chronic condition.
Yet another symptom of iodine deficiency is unexpected weight gain. This is due to the role that the thyroid plays in regulating your body’s metabolism. If your thyroid isn’t functioning well, then you may end up not being able to burn the fat and calories that your body would otherwise be able to.
In the past, when people’s diets used to be less varied, it would be hard to get the right level of iodine, but modern diets have included more and more foods that contain the element.
Here are some of the most common foods that contain iodine:
- Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yoghurt
- Beef liver
Saltwater fish are an especially good source of iodine, as well as a good source of other nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids.