Iodine is one of the mineral elements that is required not only for thyroid functioning but also for general optimal body functioning. In fact, it is needed in extra thyroidal areas in larger amounts than the thyroid gland itself.
Nonetheless, the primary role of the iodine is the syntheses of thyroid hormones. The ovaries hold the second highest concentration of iodine after the thyroid. Receptors for iodine uptake are also found in the skin, gastric mucosa, adrenal gland, heart, thymus, lung kidney bladder, mammary gland, salivary glands and the breast. As such, iodine is essential. This is due to the fact that Iodine cannot be synthesized naturally by the body. It is therefore an essential element in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Good sources include iodized salt or sea weed. Therefore, iodine not only confers thyroidal uses but also extrathyroidal benefits as well.
Iodine is essential for thyroid functioning as it helps in the conversion of thyroid stimulating hormone(TSH) to triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine(T4) which are the biologically active forms of thyroid hormone. Notably, thyroid hormones are involved in various functions in the body such as regulation of metabolism, bone health, mounting an immune response and development of the central nervous system.
Iodine also helps regulate the immune system as it helps fight infections. In addition, iodine can enhance the immune function by helping remove both toxic chemical toxins and biological toxins. Additionally, iodine is effective in suppressing autoimmunity which keeps immunity in check. It also protects against bodies invasion by foreign organisms especially in the stomach. In addition, Iodine reinforces T-cell adaptive immune system.
Just like vitamin C Iodine functions as an antioxidizing agent. It is important for raising the total serum antioxidant capacity. Iodine neutralizes reactive oxygen species such as superoxide anion, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical that have the potential to destroy the cellular membranes. Iodide specifically scavenges for hydroxyl radicals. Besides, experimental models have shown that iodine prevents lipid peroxidation in brain cells of rats. It does this by attaching to the double bonds of the polyunsarurated fatty acids in the cellular membranes thus rendering them less susceptible to free radicals.
Iodine induces apoptosis which entails programmed cells death, an important process in regulating body growth and development. Take for instance, the formation of fingers in the growing fetus is through apoptosis of the tissue between them. Additionally, it helps destroy harmful cells in the body such as mutated or infected cells.
Iodine supports cardiac function and cardiovascular health. As it is, sufficient levels of iodine are required to maintain a stable rhythmic heartbeat. Besides, it is directly or indirectly involved in the regulation of the levels of the serum cholesterol levels and hence maintenance of the blood pressure.
Skin health and functioning is also influenced by iodine. According to research, the ability to sweat is influenced by iodine. Low levels of iodine stores prevent sweating. Iodine also plays a crucial role in glucose metabolism. Iodine has shown the ability to attach itself to insulin receptors hence improving glucose metabolism. As such, iodine is important for both physical and mental growth. The thyroid hormones are required for proper brain and bone development during pregnancy and early infancy. Iodine is crucial for the development of the central nervous system.
Indeed, iodine not only has a role in the synthesis and functioning of the thyroid hormones but also has a direct impact on all the other tissues that utilize iodine. An excessive of iodine or deficiency of it is harmful to the body. Inadequate intake means that the body cannot produce enough amount of thyroid hormone. Iodine deficiency is rare since table salt is iodized. The average daily intake of iodine in the United States averages 240 mcg that is well within the normal range of 150-299 mcg/day.