Iodine Health Benefits

The body needs iodine, a trace mineral, to produce thyroid hormones, critical for growth and development. The thyroid gland contains 70-80% of all iodine found in the body.  Iodine health benefits are essential for both men and women. Large amounts of iodine are found in seawater and seaweed. Lack of iodine can lead to many health problems.

Health Benefits of Iodine

Iodine health benefits are critical for many body functions. It is needed for normal cell metabolism, normal thyroid function and production of thyroid hormones. Common salt contains sufficient quantities of iodine for the human body.  However over a billion people worldwide could suffer from iodine deficiency. Deficiency can result in mental retardation in infants especially if pregnant women lack iodine.

Control Metabolic rates : The most important health benefit of iodine is its influence on the thyroid glands.  Thyroid glands are responsible for the control of basic metabolic rate (BMR). Iodine makes sure thyroid glands function properly and helps in production of hormones such as triodothyronine and thyroxin.  These hormones influence blood pressure, temperature, body weight and heart rate. Using these hormones, the body maintains BMR and assists in protein synthesis.

Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women : Iodine health benefits for pregnant and lactating women are critical. If pregnant women have

iodine deficiency, the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth is increased. Lack of iodine in the mother can result in poor fetal and baby development. Infants that are breastfed get required quantities of iodine from breast milk and lack of iodine in the mother can affect the baby too.  This can lead to stunted growth, delayed sexual development, lower than normal IQ and mental retardation in children.  To avoid this, several groups such as the ‘American Thyroid Association’ suggest pregnant women and women who breastfeed take prenatal mineral supplements with iodine.

Recommended Iodine Dosage

Recommended Iodine Dosage


Saves from Radiation exposure : Apart from thyroid influence, the next important health benefit of iodine is its anti-cancer properties. If anyone is exposed to radiation, potassium iodine can reduce the quantity of radioactive iodine that builds up in the thyroid. This especially affects children exposed to radiation. While this treatment does not prevent other symptoms of radiation poisoning, it can reduce thyroid cancer risk. Studies illustrate that cancer cells shrink when given the right doses of iodine.

Helps in Fibrocystic breast disease : This disease is characterized by breast tenderness. This often occurs before a woman’s periods. Clinical studies have shown that iodine replacement therapy can improve tenderness in fibrocystic breast tissue. This disease occurs in women with low iodine levels. This therapy produced very little side effects.

Cognitive development : Iodine deficiency in childhood can affect cognitive development. Mild iodine deficiency cannot be measured but it might cause neurological developmental problems. The overall cognitive functioning and reasoning abilities of children can improve with iodine supplements. However, more studies are required to fully comprehend the effects of iodine deficiency, iodine supplements and cognitive development in childhood.

Prevents Goiter : Goiter or hypothyroidism affects those living in regions where there low iodine in the soil.  This results in an enlarged thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, depression and weakness. Another condition called hyperthyroidism that is the opposite of hypothyroidism can also occur with iodine deficiency. This results in weight loss, appetite fluctuations and rapid heart beat6. Better intake of foods rich in iodine like sea food, salt, eggs and dairy products can combat iodine deficiency and cure hypothyroidism.

Other health benefits of iodine

Energy levels are maintained with the help of iodine since it makes sure calories are used optimally by the body without letting them get deposited as surplus fats. 

Healthy hair, teeth and nails are formed using iodine.  Iodine prevents hair loss and promotes hair benefits of iodine

Reproductive system health is maintained by iodine. Pregnant women who get sufficient quantities of iodine can prevent cretinism – a neurocognitive condition – in their babies and avoid still births.  Proper growth, speech, hearing and movement of babies are also helped by the presence of iodine in the body.

Apoptosis or iodine programmed cell death is a health benefit of iodine. This process removes malignant diseased or cancer cells and helps to form new organs. 

Toxic chemicals like fluoride, mercury, lead and biological toxins are flushed out by iodine. Iodine strengthens the immune system and prevents growth of harmful stomach bacteria.

Oral mucositis instances can be reduced by using a mouth rinse containing iodine. Oral mucositis occurs in those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy.

Vaginitis or vaginal inflammation that causes discharge and itchiness can be treated with over the counter iodine douches such as povidone-iodine. Iodine in this form is beneficial for vaginitis without causing staining or stinging.

Wounds can be cleaned with iodine, which is a good disinfectant. Those with burns can use ointments with iodine and this lowers risk of contracting an infection.

Foods rich in Iodine

Iodine health benefits can be realized with a diet rich in this essential mineral. The richest source of iodine is table salt. Foods that contain iodine include deep-water fish, shell fish, marine plants like brown seaweed kelp, and other sea foods. Canned sea foods like tuna, oyster, lobster, clams, salmon etc also are rich sources of iodine. Soybeans, lima beans, garlic, turnip, greens, summer squash, Swiss chard all contain iodine. Iodine added to bread by bakers as a stabilizing agent is also a good source.

Precautions when taking iodine

Iodine overdose (more than 2,000 mg) can produce toxic results in patients with tuberculosis or kidney ailments. Excess iodine can also cause thyroid papillary cancer. Pregnant and nursing women must ensure they take only the prescribed dosage of iodine. Overdose of iodine supplements can result in thyroid cancers, Graves’ disease, Hashimoto’s disease and thyrotoxicosis that results in too much thyroid in the blood stream. 


All Iodine health benefits can be easily received by a healthy diet. The critical function of iodine is to maintain the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Since iodine deficiency in pregnant and nursing mothers can cause a host of growth and development problems in babies, this group needs to be specially monitored.