functions, needs and sources of food
Essential for the production of thyroid hormones, iodine is a trace element that the body demands throughout our lives.
Photo Alexy Almond in Pexels
Iodine ensures the formation of the nervous system in the fetus, during puberty and into adulthood.
Discover the specificities of this trace element, its benefits, its best natural sources and the risks incurred in case of deficiency or excess.
Iodine is an essential micronutrient for the functioning of our body.
It is one of the main components of thyroid hormones, which are responsible for basic metabolism, regulation of body temperature, reproduction, production of blood cells, growth, muscle function and development of the nervous system.
The benefits of iodine in the body
From the moment a baby is conceived in its mother’s womb, iodine ensures the production of thyroid hormones, essential for the thyroid gland.
These hormones are essential for the body throughout our existence, to regulate thermogenesis (heat production to maintain body temperature at 37°) as well as energy metabolism (level of caloric expenditure). They modulate the synthesis of proteins.
The main sources of iodine in food
The level of iodine in food depends mainly on how we consume our food and on cultural, geographical, land and chemical conditions.
The richest foods are seafood, eggs, seaweed, and dairy products, especially those in liquid form such as milk.
But there is also an exceptional level of iodine in iodine-enriched salt, as well as in all foods to which salt or iodine has been added.
Daily iodine intake for athletes can be increased by 50 µg, especially for those who engage in activities that cause excessive sweating.
Smokers also have a great need for iodine, due to certain components (thiocyanates) present in the smoke, which reduce its assimilation by the thyroid gland.
Iodine deficiency and saturation in the body
The availability of iodized table salt on the market therefore reduces the risk of deficiency in many countries.
The rare cases observed manifest themselves through insufficient production of thyroid hormones, which can cause: mental retardation, goiter, cretinism (neurological disorders in the fetus), hypothyroidism, and developmental and growth disorders.
In all cases, the simple correction of iodine deficiency is sufficient to restore the functioning of the thyroid gland.
People most likely to suffer from iodine deficiency are vegetarians and vegans, women of childbearing age, especially those preparing to give birth, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
A simple consultation with a dietitian can determine if you are in a risk category for iodine deficiency.
Any excess iodine can be controlled through a balanced choice of foods.
Exceeding the Upper Tolerable Intake Level (UL) can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, goiter, thyroid hair cancer, thyroiditis or hypersensitivity reactions.
Note that the safe dose limit is set at 600 mg per day for an adult.
This limit is easily reached thanks to the daily intake of food and the use of iodized salt.
It is rarely recommended to take food supplements that provide iodine. However, it is always advisable to consult a dietitian to ensure that sufficient iodine is consumed daily.
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