Iodine, Responsible for growth and you child’s future?

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Known simply as I on the periodic table, iodine is a mineral that humans need to maintain healthy hormones in our thyroid and help regulate normal growth, metabolism and brain development. We cannot produce iodine, but there are many simple ways to include iodine in your diet, easily avoiding serious repercussions.

Read on to see what ‘I’ can do for you…

It started with a bang...

French chemist Bernard Courtois first discovered iodine accidentally in 1811, during the manufacture of gunpowder, when he noticed purple smoke emanating from pots he was treating with sulphuric acid. Further studies found that the purple haze was a result of the seaweed ash (varec) they were using. Two years later, the new element was ready to be presented and, needing a name for it, they decided on ‘iodine’ taken from the Greek word ‘ioeides’, literally meaning violet. Throughout the 1800s, several physicians practiced with iodine as treatment for goiters - growths on the neck - then in 1896, Eugen Baumann discovered iodine present in the thyroid gland. Interestingly, scriptures from Chinese medicine had also suggested seaweed as a natural cure for neck inflammations almost 5000 years earlier.

The Science part ...

Iodine is an element from the halogen group (7) of non-metals, which also includes astatine, bromine, chlorine and fluorine. While all of these elements exist in different states at room temperature, iodine has its own individual trait, which makes it quite unusual. Instead of going through the regular solid to liquid to gas transformation when heated, iodine ‘sublimates’ from solid straight to gas at room temperature. This characteristic is less than sublime however, as how can we achieve our necessary intake of iodine when it literally disappears in a puff a smoke before we can get our hands on it?

Pass the salt !?

Scientifically speaking, the stability of iodine can be regulated by combining it with salt, and that’s exactly what they started to do in the USA throughout the 1920s. Prior to this, iodine deficiency was endemic in certain areas of America with doctors reporting over 60 percent of some towns’ populations being affected by goiters. This had to be rectified and by 1924, the first iodized table salt went on sale in Michigan. Since then around 120 countries - including Canada - have ruled that all food-grade salt must contain iodine in an attempt to prevent ailments associated with iodine deficiency.

Surf and Turf

Iodized salt, however, is just one of the ways to make sure you are getting enough iodine. As iodine occurs naturally in seawater, fish, shellfish and seaweed retain the element inherently and pass it on to us through consumption. Iodine is also found in soil and is added to some animal feed so meat and poultry plus their produce such as milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs are all great natural sources of iodine. Certain fruits and vegetables also contain small amounts of iodine, such as potatoes, green beans, bananas, strawberries, pineapple and rhubarb, but nowhere near as much. Most people should be able to get enough iodine through food in their diet, however throughout our lives there may be cause to increase our iodine intake and for this reason a supplement such as sea kelp or potassium iodide may be advisable (but you should always check with a doctor first).

Who may need to Increase their Iodine Intake?

The National Institutes Of Health (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) recommends around 150mcg (that’s 0.15mg) of iodine every day to maintain normal hormone regulation for the average adult male and female. This doesn’t seem like much, yet the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that: “Iodine deficiency disorder (IDD) is a serious public health threat for 2 billion people worldwide”. That’s over a quarter of the world’s population.

In addition to the aforementioned goiters, IDD is thought to be a leading cause of mental and physical impairment in babies, still birth and miscarriage for pregnant women, thyroid disorder, fungal skin diseases, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even certain types of cancers including breast and thyroid.

Age

Male

Female

Pregnancy

Lactation

Birth to 6 months

110 mcg*

110 mcg*

7–12 months

130 mcg*

130 mcg*

1–3 years

90 mcg

90 mcg

4–8 years

90 mcg

90 mcg

9–13 years

120 mcg

120 mcg

14–18 years

150 mcg

150 mcg

220 mcg

290 mcg

19+ years

150 mcg

150 mcg

220 mcg

290 mcg

*Adequate Intake (AI) (For infants from birth to 12 months, the FNB established an AI for iodine that is equivalent to the mean intake of iodine in healthy, breastfed infants in the United States.)

Table: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Iodine

From: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/

Baby Love, the ALSPAC Study

In 1991, Bristol University began a longitudinal study on more than 14,000 pregnant women to research the health and development of fetuses, babies and children, their parents, grandparents and even partners. The study known as ALSPAC (Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents And Children) continues to collect data from the original participants even today through surveys, clinical assessments and biological samples. In May 2013, The Lancet medical journal published a paper that reported – according to results found in the ALSPAC study – women who showed iodine deficiency during pregnancy seemed to have a direct link to inadequate cognitive development of their children, resulting in lower IQ scores and poorer reading ability. One of the leaders of the research group Professor Margaret Rayman said at the time: “Our results clearly show the importance of adequate iodine status during early pregnancy, and emphasise the risk that iodine deficiency can pose to the developing infant, even in a country classified as only mildly iodine deficient”.

The Smart Choice

Despite the fact that there are many easy ways to include iodine in our diet, too many people simply aren’t getting enough. By following the advice above, you can take matters into your own hands to ensure your own health and wellbeing plus that of the future generations. Do the smart thing: make sure you start including iodine in your diet today so you don’t regret it tomorrow.

 

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