Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Sounds like a topic about America and Trump’s presidency. What about Australia? Believe it or not, we’re not talking politics. Iodine is an essential trace element that is associated with IQ scores. It is essential for the production of thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones influence growth, maturation, metabolism, and protection for the central nervous system (CNS). The CNS governs the brain and spinal cord…So basically Iodine is essential for life (and intelligence)!
Now that we know how Iodine influences IQ, what if I told you that Iodine deficiency is on the rise? Recent surveys indicate that 48% of pregnant Australian women are severely deficient! **Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the children!? A study of Melbourne school children aged 11-18yrs found 76% had inadequate levels and 27% of those had severe deficiency!! These findings from the Australian National Iodine Nutrition Study resulted in an urge for mandatory iodisation of all edible salt in Australia.
So where has the Iodine gone?
“Salt increases blood pressure” – So even though table salt became iodised, public health campaigns urged Australians to quit eating salt.
The process of sanitising dairy-milk went from iodine to chlorine substitutes which saw a drastic reduction in iodine scores amongst Australians.
Fortification of bread came out and everyone went gluten-free.
Although salt is now in trend with salted caramel, salted chocolate, and Salt Bae… rock or river salt is significantly low in iodine.
Absorption of iodine by the thyroid gland is inhibited by foods containing goitrogens: broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and canola oil.
Iodine deficiency is the number one cause of thyroid disfunction worldwide. Even mild deficiency without any physical symptoms of hypothyroidism can lead to neurological consequences.
Congenital hypothyroidism symptoms Infants can appear normal at birth, however up to 10% are diagnosed with congenital hypothyroidism.
Reduced muscle strength
Delayed bone maturation
If treatment is delayed, permanent neurological damage can occur.
Adult hypothyroidism symptoms The prevalence of hypothyroidism is increasing and most commonly seen in middle-aged women.
Enlarged thyroid (goitre)
Constant feelings of being cold
Poor memory and difficulty concentrating
Reduced appetite yet increased weight gain
Frequent cold and flus
Puffy hands, feet and face
Reduced hearing ability
Heavy periods, or delayed menstruation
Poor muscle function, cramps, stiffness and pain
Reduced pulse rate.
Due for a check-up? As excess iodine is excreted via the kidneys, a simple urine test will tell you where you’re at.
If you and your GP are more concerned about hypothyroidism, especially if you have a family history of Hashimoto’s or Graves disease (autoimmune thyroid conditions), a blood test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4 levels would be required for a diagnosis.
Subclinical hypothyroidism is when you may experience symptoms and TSH is elevated, however T4 hormones are within normal range. This is a great chance to get your thyroid back in action!
Natural Iodine-Containing Foods
Oysters, mackerel and cod are great seafood sources
Sea vegetables: kelp, dulse, arame, nori, wakame, and kombu
Natural sea-salt flakes
Also important for thyroid health…
Nutrients such as zinc, iron, magnesium, selenium, tyrosine, and vitamins A, C & E are all required for optimal thyroid health. Having a diet that is rich in seafood, nuts (especially the Brazilian kind), protein and fresh fruit and vegetables is important. Because foods that contain goitrogens from the brassica family inhibit absorption, they should be consumed at least 2hrs away from iodine-containing foods.
Besides that, make sure you are nourishing your emotional state of health. Stress is a key player in destroying the metabolic system (including the thyroid!)
Therefore with Christmas just around the corner, be sure to look after yourself. Slow down. Sip some seaweed-filled miso, and let your body rest. You deserve it, and your thyroid will be thrilled it can finally recover! Better yet, you’ll enter the new year just a little bit smarter ;)
From me to you,
The Matakana Naturopath