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Is Iodine deficiency affecting your thyroid and fertility?

A large percentage of the NZ population is deficient in the trace mineral Iodine. Could you be one of them?

Iodine is a trace mineral that we require daily in small amounts as it is found in every single body cell. Iodine is essential for a healthy metabolic rate, the function of a healthy thyroid gland, and the prevention of goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland). Molecules of iodine are used to make thyroid hormone (T4 and T3) along with the amino acid tyrosine (which can be obtained by eating a good supply of protein-rich foods such as organic animal meats, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy products). Iodine is also important for physical growth and mental development and is essential during preconception and pregnancy for the growth and development of a healthy baby. It is important for central nervous system development in a fetus. Low levels of thyroid hormone can also cause women to stop ovulating leading to infertility.

In New Zealand, iodine is very deficient (even absent) in our soils. Also, the foods that are rich in iodine such as seaweeds, kelp, and saltwater fish are not commonly eaten which compounds the problem. Iodized salt is a good source of iodine but because we are led to believe that salt is bad for our health (which is not true unless you have severe hypertension) many people are avoiding salt. Rather than avoid salt completely it is a good idea to make sure you are getting some good healthy salts in your diet like Himalayan pink rock salt or Celtic sea salt which are rich in naturally occurring minerals including iodine.

Some key signs that you might have iodine deficiency:

• Underactive thyroid gland

• Goitre (swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck)

• Low body temperature, over sensitivity to the cold

• Fatigue and weakness

• Inability to lose weight or gains weight easy

• High HDL (bad) cholesterol

• Infertility and recurring miscarriage

• Fibrocystic breasts (painful breast lumps)

• Dry skin or mouth

• Hair loss, outer 3rd of eyebrow missing

• Constipation

• Cancers of the breast, prostate, ovaries, thyroid, or uterus.

The recommended daily dosage for iodine supplementation is 150mcg per day of potassium iodide however this may not be enough if you are severely deficient in iodine. In addition you have to be careful not to take too much iodine (over 600 mcg daily) as excess iodine intake may inhibit the secretion of thyroid hormone further and make your hypothyroidism symptoms worse (or tip you over to a hyperthyroid state). Please note that Iodine supplementation is not recommended and can be harmful if you have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) so if you are concerned it is best to take iodine supplements under the guidance of a health care practitioner.

Good food sources of iodine are seaweeds such as kelp and bladderwrack, iodized salt, sea salt, eggs, seafood, saltwater fish, and dairy products. Sprinkling kelp powder on your meals is a great way to get a daily dose of iodine.

Raw brassica foods such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower are goitrogenic foods that block the uptake and absorption of iodine so if you have or suspect you have a thyroid problem it is best to not have too much of these raw. Cooking inactivates the goitrogens so lightly steaming or stir-frying these brassica vegetables are ok. Many people add raw kale to their juices believing they are being really healthy without realising that it can be problematic to your thyroid health. Excess soy consumption can also interfere with iodine absorption.

Fluoride, chlorine, and bromide are chemicals found in our environment that also block the absorption of iodine. Using a natural fluoride-free toothpaste, filtering all drinking water, using a shower filter ( so you don’t inhale chemicals from the water), avoiding non-stick frying pans (contain fluoride and bromide that are released when heated), and buying organic fruits and vegetables can help to protect you from these.

Iodine deficiency is such an important health issue that affects many New Zealanders (especially women) so please share this information with anyone who you think may benefit from this. If you suspect you may have iodine deficiency or a thyroid problem and would like to have this investigated further using a natural approach then please get in touch.

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