There is a rather insidious mineral deficiency which happens to run rampant in our society, and which negatively impacts the function of an endocrine gland which gets a lot of attention: the thyroid. The mineral I am talking about is iodine, and chances are that you are deficient in it.
The thyroid gland cannot synthesize thyroid hormones without iodine, so if your iodine stores are negligible, you have been doing your thyroid gland a major disservice. Add a stressful lifestyle to the mix, and you pretty much have locked in significant issues with thyroid function.
You might argue that you use sea salt, and since the sea contains most of the earth’s iodine, doesn’t that count? The problem is that most of the iodine is lost during the crystallization process. And forget about Morton’s Iodized Salt. The amount of iodine in that product is so small that it wouldn’t even begin to address a deficiency.
If you’re a health “nut” and have banned gluten-containing foods from your diet, that means that breads which may offer a decent source of iodine are no longer options for you. Those of you who are exercise fanatics (and yes, I am one of those people for sure) excrete quite a bit of iodine through your sweat, and if that iodine isn’t somehow replaced, you are going through each day in a state of severe iodine depletion. Another significant factor in the development of iodine deficiency (which, by the way, affects about 75% of the population) is the fact that people with cardiovascular issues are advised to limit their intake of salt. If you are a fitness person, especially if you compete, you probably avoid salt like the plague, which is not a good thing for your iodine stores or your thyroid function.
Dr. David Brownstein, who wrote a brilliant study called Iodine – Why You Need It And Why You Can’t Live Without It, claims that optimal health is not possible if someone has an iodine deficiency. Over time, the suffering thyroid gland can impact heart health, and can be implicated in the progression of certain types of cancer.
Symptoms of iodine deficiency include fatigue, dry skin, brittle hair, constipation, or depression. If you have a few stubborn pounds that you can never lose despite every intervention, or if you have water retention issues, low iodine levels may be the culprit.
Whatever you do, though, don’t pay attention to the RDA guidelines, because they are too tiny to make any difference in your iodine stores. The best dosage I recommend is 6.25 milligrams daily for several weeks, then taper off gradually (every other day for a week or two, then every two days, then stop). Beware of any bowel overactivity or acne breakouts, as those can be indicative of iodine intolerance. If you have any major medical issues, seek the advice of your physician before embarking on an iodine replacement regimen.
If you don’t want to take supplements, you can eat kelp snacks or seafood. Another important thing you can do to maximize the availability of iodine stores in your body is to avoid consumption of soy products, which block iodine absorption.