Iodine is one of the most important minerals for healthy cellular and metabolic function. Once a standby of physicians, iodine was used to treat a variety of ailments and was considered a “universal medicine.” Most physicians today view iodine from a narrow perspective, believing the thyroid gland to be the sole beneficiary of iodine in the body. However, researchers have found that all cells in the body have a receptor for iodine. While the thyroid is the only gland that stores iodine, many other body systems require large quantities of this important mineral.
Americans consume an average of 240 micrograms of iodine per day. By comparison, the Japanese consume more than 12,000 micrograms per day and enjoy greater longevity, lower infant mortality, and far less incidence of breast cancer. The Japanese eat a variety of marine plants which are high in this vital nutrient, while iodized table salt is now the chief source of iodine in the American diet. Unfortunately, the iodine in table salt is poorly absorbed by the intestines. Also, iodine must contend with the toxic competitors chloride, bromide, and fluoride, which lower iodine levels in the body by blocking iodine receptors.
Iodine has been shown to strengthen the immune system, protect against the growth of harmful bacteria, and lower the incidence of fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer. Supplemental iodine is available in different forms, each of which affects specific tissues in the body. The potassium and sodium iodide forms are best absorbed by the thyroid gland, while breast tissue uses iodine most efficiently in the form of molecular iodine. Look for supplements that provide all three forms. Benefits of increased iodine consumption include higher energy, better mental stability, improved skin complexion, and greater bowel regularity, to name a few.