IODINE : voluntary steemplicity : part 9 :
Do you crave salt? It might be that you're craving the iodine in salt. Do you crave being near the ocean? It might be that you're craving the iodine naturally present in the sea water and air.
Iodine is important for thyroid function. A century ago, iodine deficiency was a problem that was cured with iodized salt. Iodine deficiency in the U.S. occurred mostly in landlocked areas, the Great Lakes, Appalachian, and Northwestern regions. This central part of the country became known as the “goiter belt” because thyroid dysfunction and swelling (goiter) was so prevalent there. Why are landlocked areas less healthy for the thyroid? Because they lack the natural iodine found in coastal environments.
Living near the ocean has the added benefit of sea air, which contains tiny droplets of sea water that are rich in iodine and other trace minerals. But it isn't just the water and its diffused droplets that contain iodine. Gaseous iodine is released from seaweed beds and infuses coastal air, as well. When I lived in Florida, I noticed that my hair began growing faster and thicker. When I moved back home to Colorado a few years later, my hair actually began falling out. At first I blamed this on the dry, arid nature of Colorado, and that was partly true. But it's the lack of sea air with its accompanying minerals and gaseous iodine that caused my hair loss.
Iodine deficiency is easily corrected by supplementing, although it isn't always fixed with just iodized salt. Check with your doctor if you suspect a deficiency and look into supplementing with potassium iodide, a type of salt, which can be found at any health food store. Nascent iodine is an atomic rather than molecular form of iodine that is more easily absorbed and assimilated by the body. It's more expensive than typical iodide supplements and usually can't be found in stores, but nascent iodine can be ordered online. Intake of more than 5 mg of any form of iodine daily is considered an overdose and can be dangerous. As with all things, moderation is key.
The chemical iodine is a halogen, or a “salt-producing” element. In its natural state, iodine is a metallic solid that sublimes into a violet-colored gas.
Most of us grew up with moms who treated cuts and scrapes with iodine, which is actually povidone-iodine. That's a completely different product than potassium iodide and you want to make sure you don't consume that type of iodine orally. It's a red-colored antiseptic fluid containing povidone, hydrogen iodide, and elemental iodine.
Dr. Lara Briden, a naturopath with a popular hormone blog, prescribes either molecular iodine, iodide, or iodate (seaweed) to her patients for breast pain, ovarian cysts, and PMS. According to Briden, more than 70 percent of the body's iodine is concentrated in the brain, immune system, prostate gland, ovaries, uterus, and breasts and can be very useful in treating estrogen dominance.
The risk of supplementing iodine is that, for some people, too much iodine can trigger autoimmune thyroid disease or Hashimoto's. Dr. Briden recommends testing for thyroid antibodies before supplementing with iodine, as thyroid antibodies are a marker of latent Hashimoto's: “You can still take some iodine with autoimmune thyroid disease (remember, you need it for your breasts and ovaries!), but you must start at a low dose like 250 mcg (0.25 mg) and work up slowly.”