Iodine Health Benefits
Iodine is necessary, first and foremost, for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland and to prevent goiters (thyroid gland enlargement) from developing. Therefore, when there is a problem, supplemental iodine is used to treat it. Iodine therapy can also provide various other benefits. The following is a summary of the most important benefits of iodine.
• To treat goiters and low thyroid function
Obviously anyone with a severe deficiency and pronounced goiter needs to be properly treated by an endocrinologist without delay. However, in order for an individual to benefit from iodine therapy, there does not need to be a severe state of deficiency already present. Even those with only mildly impaired thyroid function can be helped. Low thyroid function is often diagnosed as the cause of the commonly reported symptoms of fatigue, cold extremities, weight gain, dry skin, and brittle nails. Iodine supplements can improve thyroid functioning and alleviate the troublesome symptoms.
• To administer radioactively to test thyroid functioning
• To shrink the thyroid gland prior to surgery
• To treat infections
• To prevent and treat ovarian and breast cysts. Chronic fibrocystic disease of the breast is not only common but often painful. Iodine therapy can alleviate the discomfort.
• To purify water
• To keep skin, hair, and nails healthy
Iodine supplements are often prescribed in tablet or capsule form as sodium iodide or potassium iodide. Another way of prescribing them is in the form of Lugol’s solution, one or two drops of which can be taken with water (very handy on a long mountain hike), or some can be applied to the skin to treat infections.
It is important not to self-prescribe iodine. Any iodine supplements should be prescribed and supervised by a qualified physician, preferably an endocrinologist, to avoid taking too much and thereby overstimulating the thyroid hormone system.