What is iodine?

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Iodine is a chemical substance that is needed by the body for various functions. In the case of the thyroid gland, iodine is needed in the production of T3 and T4 hormones which are essential in the body’s metabolism regulation and other processes. These same hormones are also part of various processes involving bone and brain development. These essential bodily processes make iodine a very essential element for the body to have. The human body itself does not produce iodine and so is dependent on food sources to have them in adequate and healthy amounts.

Depending on a person’s age, there are recommended amounts of iodine to be sourced from food. Babies for example need about 100 micrograms of this element for proper bone and brain development. Lack of iodine at this time may mean possible health problems. While kids are growing into adults, increasing iodine is also needed from the diet. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding even need more iodine than normal adults because of the developing fetus or child. Good sources of iodine include seafood items such as fish, shrimps, and seaweeds. Various fruits and vegetable greens are also rich sources of this essential element. People may also get iodine from milk and related products. There are also food items that are fortified with iodine supplements like salt and rice.

Iodine deficiency basically makes people sick. Children and adults are equally affected if the amount of iodine from food is not enough to support the production of hormones by the thyroid gland. Some people with iodine deficiency will develop thyroid-related problems like goiter. Others meanwhile may have problems in their skin or gastro-intestinal tract. For pregnant women who have iodine deficiency, the health problems may involve the developing fetus. Problems in the unborn child include bone and brain abnormalities. Some babies will have stunted growth while others will have cognitive problems.