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What Is Iodine's Role in a Healthy Thyroid Gland?

By    |   Tuesday, 22 Mar 2016 04:08 PM

The thyroid gland is an important part of the endocrine system. It uses iodine to make hormones that control many bodily functions and metabolism.

MedicineNet explains that the process used by the thyroid gland to produce hormones is complicated. To start, the thyroid gland converts iodine in the blood to its free elemental form called iodide. Iodide is then oxidized within the thyroid gland and converted into the two thyroid hormones: tri-iodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).

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According to the American Thyroid Association, the body cannot produce iodine on its own, so we need to get iodine through the food we eat. Without enough iodine, the thyroid gland cannot produce enough hormones, resulting in hypothyroidism and goiter, or an enlarged thyroid gland.

In the U.S., people can get iodine by using iodized salt and eating seafood, dairy foods, meat, and eggs.

Iodine deficiency may be more common in developed countries than once believed, writes Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP for Women to Women. First, many people choose to limit salt intake because of high blood pressure or other health concerns. Second, adding iodine to salt sold commercially is voluntary, and only one-fifth of the table salt sold in the U.S. is iodized. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that more than 2 million American women could be deficient in iodine.

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According to licensed acupuncturist Chris Kesser, hypothyroid patients should be tested for iodine deficiency. If they are deficient, they should be taking iodine supplements. In his practice, he uses kelp tablets with 325 mcg of iodine to start, but notes that 200 mcg of selenium should also be given. If appropriate, the iodine dosage can be very slowly increased over time.

Increased iodine can be helpful for the thyroid unless the thyroid disorder is due to an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease. In these cases, too much iodine can have negative effects.

If you have a thyroid disorder, increasing your iodine could help, but it is important to discuss your iodine regimen with your physician. They can determine if iodine deficiency is to blame and recommend an appropriate course of action.

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The thyroid gland is an important part of the endocrine system. It uses iodine to make hormones that control many bodily functions and metabolism.
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Tuesday, 22 Mar 2016 04:08 PM
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