Iodine is an under rated mineral. Sure, we know it's vital for thyroid function, but it has such a larger role than what is assumed. In fact, every gland in the body has an iodine receptor, the thyroid being the one that is the most concentrated but coming in second are the ovaries for women and testes for men.
It's actually considered a fertility mineral, and when I say 'fertility' I don't just mean for women, but for men as well. Our pituitary gland, a little gland in our brain that sends signals to our thyroid to make thyroid hormone, also produces follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), as well as luteinizing hormone (LH) which directly signal to the gonads and other organs to produce estrogen and testosterone consecutively in both women and men. Iodine is one vital component to this downward effect. Conversely, iodine helps with the sensitization of cells to manage estrogen production which is important in preventing "estrogen dominance", also known as too much circulating estrogen in some situations. This is no coincidence considering the fact that many estrogen-related issues, such as fungus, infections or overgrowths of any sort can be managed through the presence of sufficient iodine for it is an antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial mineral.
This brings us to our second point, which is iodine is commonly used as something to treat infections. It all started with the ancient Greeks where Aristotle's student, Theophrastus, used seaweed as a method to treat burns from the sun. In the 1800's, the French discovered it could help to treat goiters, and then tuberculosis. The way in which iodine works is that it is capable in penetrating into certain organisms (like bacteria, virus, fungus) and oxidize key proteins, fatty acids and nucleotides that keep it alive, subsequently leading to cell death. It's interesting to note that iodine has yet to develop any bacterial resistance, meaning it can come in handy for many things and one can use it often without worrying the infection will adapt.
Piggy backing off the second point regarding estrogen, it is also considered as anti cancer and has been coined as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that iodine deficiency has been associated with breast, thyroid and even cancer in the ovaries. This makes sense after mentioning how in the first point iodine regulates estrogen within the cells and hinders it from proliferating.
Lastly, iodine helps compete against the absorption of certain halogens and metals in our environment. These halogens include bromine, chlorine and fluorine. Bromine is found in baked goods to improve the rise and elasticity of dough, as well as soft drinks. Chlorine is typically found in public pools as a means to keep things sanitized, bleaching agents, bleached foods (white flour), cleaning agents and paper. Fluorine is probably one of the more popular halogens and is put in tap water and any dental products. Essentially, all halogens “look alike” at an atomic level, so they tend to bind to receptors similarly and can compete for absorption. With sufficient iodine in our diets, or even supplementation depending on one's individual situation, one can avoid halogen toxicity and iodine deficiency. Conversely, metals like mercury have an affinity for accumulating in the thyroid, which can potentially antagonize iodine out of the cell and vice versa.
Interested in knowing if iodine supplementation is right for you? Consider looking at Upgraded Formula's Upgraded Iodine or book your next HTMA test with us to get some insight from one of our consultants!
Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis Practitioner
Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner
Integrative Health Coach