How This Helps

Iodine is a trace element that occurs naturally in certain foods, added to the others, and available as a nutritional supplement. Iodine is a vital part of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid hormones regulate many critical biochemical reactions, such as enzymatic action and protein synthesis. These reactions form the crucial determinants of metabolic activity. They're also necessary for proper skeletal and central nervous system development in fetuses and infants.

Thyroid function is mostly controlled by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), also known as thyrotropin. It's secreted from the adrenal gland to control thyroid hormone production and secretion, thereby protecting the body from hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. TSH secretion increases the thyroidal uptake of iodine and stimulates the synthesis and release of T3 and T4. In the absence of adequate iodine, TSH levels remain elevated, resulting in goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland which reflects the body's effort to trap more iodine in the flow and produce thyroid hormones.

Iodine might have other physiological functions in the body too. For example, it appears to play a role in immune response and may have a favorable effect on mammary dysplasia and fibrocystic breast disease.

Iodine supplements for iodine deficiency

Are you suffering from hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or goiter? Well, then you may probably be deficient with the required amount of iodine in your body. Iodine is an essential nutrient that maintains your thyroid health. It constitutes the intrinsic component of the thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone secreted from the thyroid gland regulates healthy metabolism in individuals of all ages. An optimum level of this hormone is required for normal metabolism of all ages. The thyroid hormone is considered critical for fetal, infant, and child neural as well as overall development. So, medicines for thyroid hormones are prescribed to almost every pregnant woman to keep their thyroid levels in the normal range.

Iodine deficiency may increase the risk of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and multinodular toxic goiter. A person with severe iodine deficiency may experience serious adverse health effects like cretinism and growth retardation. To avoid such conditions, WHO has recommended universal salt iodization that is considered as a first-line strategy to eliminate the severe iodine deficiency in people. However, research has shown that excessive iodine supplementation may also negatively impact thyroid function. 

See: Low Iodine Diet before Radioactive Therapy

Iodine supplement benefits

Benefits of one should consider in taking the best iodine supplement:

1. Iodine in the synthesis of thyroid hormones

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones. These thyroid hormones are responsible for serving various critical functions, from regulating the body's metabolic rate to promoting the heart and digestive function. An optimum level of thyroid hormone is also essential for muscle control, neurodevelopment, and in maintaining mood and bone health.[1]. 

The synthesis of thyroid hormones depends on a good supply of iodine either through the diet or through external iodine supplements. 

2. Iodine for hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition characterized by lower levels of thyroid hormones causing swelling in the neck, weight gain, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, dry and flaky skin, changes in heart rate, trouble learning and remembering. It is due to lower iodine levels in the body, which causes less synthesis of thyroid hormone resulting in hypothyroidism. This is the most important reason to consider taking an iodine supplement for correcting hypothyroidism.[1]. 

3. Iodine supplement in cognitive function

Iodine rich foods contribute to the healthy formation of the brain. The brain regulates the whole body functioning, and its development is essential. The first significant phase of brain development occurs between the third and fifth months of gestation, where the multiplication and migration of neurons arise along with their organization. Another vital growth phase occurs in the third trimester of pregnancy. This phase includes the duplication and migration of glial cells, as well as their myelination. So, maintaining an optimum level of thyroid hormone is essential in pregnant women as THS helps bind with the thyroid receptors located in the nuclei of cells, and helps to regulate gene expression within the target tissues of the cell, such as the brain.[3].

4. Iodine supplement for growth and development

Iodine supplementation can promote growth in children by improving thyroid function. Both thyroid hormone and growth hormone are essential for normal growth and development in children. Growth hormone expression in children is carried out by the Thyroid hormone, which affects bone maturation, growth of epiphyseal bone, and proper stature in children. So, iodine supplement can increase the levels of Thyroid Hormone and thus promote growth.[3].

5. Iodine supplement in neurodevelopment during pregnancy

Cretinism is a disease that results due to severe iodine deficiency. It is characterized by profound mental retardation. Cretinism can be avoided in children and infants through iodine supplementation in pregnant women to produce enough thyroid hormones. It is usually recommended for a pregnant woman to increase the iodine intake to 50% while pregnant, which can meet the requirement of both baby and mother as well. It has also been found that babies whose birth mothers suffer from a deficiency of iodine during the pregnancy phase were more likely to grow up with lower IQ levels.[4].

6. Iodine supplement in the improvement of birth weight of a child

Babies who are born with low birth weight are due to the negative iodine balance status, which results due to fetal and neonatal hypothyroidism. However, this can be prevented with adequate iodine supplementation in the first weeks of life, which can exacerbate the hypothyroxinemia of the prematurity.[4]. 

7. Iodine supplement in treat fibrocystic breast disease

Deficiency of iodine may make the breast cells sensitive to estrogen, causing fluid build-up, swelling, and an increase in the breast tissue cell numbers. In such cases, regular use of iodine supplements can help reduce the sensitivity to estrogen and improve the symptoms associated with fibrocystic breast disease.[5].

8. Iodine supplement in disinfection of water:

One of the most efficient and best ways to disinfect your drinking water is to add a few drops of liquid iodine or a tablet in a liter of water. This minor step can be an effective method for those who do not have access to filtered and purified water and also in cases of traveling to places.[6].

9. Iodine supplement in protection from nuclear fallout

Iodine can be helpful in case of nuclear emergencies as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the direct usage of potassium iodide (KI) for the protection of the thyroid gland from the injuries that may be caused by nuclear radiation. These are available in the form of a tablet and liquid form.[7].

10. Iodine supplement in the treatment of infections

Doctors often recommend cleaning the wound with a betadine solution to wade of the infection. Betadine contains iodine, which acts as a potent antiseptic and can clean the wound and debridement. Thus iodine can also help in the prevention and treatment of general infection.[6]. 

See: Ayurvedic Herbs for Hypothyroidism


1. Harding, Kimberly & Pena-Rosas, Jp & Webster, Angela & Yap, Constance & Payne, Brian & Ota, Erika & de Regil, Luz. (2017). Iodine supplements for women during the preconception, pregnancy & postpartum period: Reviews. 10.1002/14651858.CD011761.pub2. 

2. Choudhry, Hani & Nasrullah, Mohammad. (2018). Iodine consumption and cognitive performance: Confirmation of adequate consumption. Food Science & Nutrition. 6. 10.1002/fsn3.694. 

3. Zimmermann, Michael. (2011). The role of iodine in human growth & development. Seminars in cell & developmental biology. 22. 645-52. 10.1016/j.semcdb.2011.07.009. 

4. Skeaff, Sheila. (2011). Iodine Deficiency in Pregnancy: The Effect on Neurodevelopment in the Child. Nutrients. 3. 265-73. 10.3390/nu3020265. 

5. Managing Fibrocystic Breast Changes and Pain: Perspectives for the Pharmacist.2015-04-19 01:04:01.BioPharmX.

6. Vermeulen, Hester & Westerbos, S & Ubbink, Dirk. (2010). Benefit & harm of iodine in wound care: A systematic review. The Journal of hospital infection. 76. 191-9. 10.1016/j.jhin.2010.04.026. 

7. National Research Council, Committee to Assess the Health Implications of Perchlorate Ingestion. Health Implications of Perchlorate Ingestion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005.

8. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

9. World Health Organization. United Nations Children’s Fund & International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Assessment of iodine deficiency disorders and monitoring their elimination. 3rd ed. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO, 2007.

10. Patrick L. Iodine: deficiency and therapeutic considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Jun;13(2):116-127. [PubMed abstract]


See: Functional Medicine for Hypothyroidism

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