Iodine and the Body
Iodine is detected in every organ and tissue in the body. It is found in high levels in the thyroid, breast, stomach, saliva, ovaries, liver, lung, heart, and adrenals. It is essential in pregnancy.
Iodine and the Thyroid
Often, iodine is treated as if it is important only to the thyroid, and the effects of iodine on the rest of the body are ignored. However, iodine seems to impact every organ and system of the body.
Much of the research has been done on the thyroid since iodine is essential for the formation of thyroid hormones and the thyroid hormones affect every cell of the body. The primary thyroid hormones are T3 and T4, named for the number of iodine atoms contained. For example, T3 contains three iodine atoms and T4 contains four iodine atoms. Recent research
indicates that T2 and T1 are also important hormones.
Many studies have been done on the metabolism of iodine by the thyroid. The NIS (Sodium/Iodide Symporter) allows iodide to be taken into the thyroid cells at levels of concentration much higher than the levels in the blood. Once the iodide is in the cell, it undergoes a complex metabolic process as it gets transformed into the thyroid hormones.
Iodine and the Breast
There is an extensive body of research and theory on iodine and the breast. The breast contains NIS receptors and is known to concentrate iodine in the excreted milk. Iodine is considered important for proper breast structure and health. The specific form of molecular iodine (I2) (versus iodide, I-) is considered to be essential for a healthy breast.
Research on iodine and the breast focuses on (1) fibrocystic breast disease, (2) breast cancer, (3) iodine metabolism and (4) relationships between thyroid issues and the breast.
Iodine and the Brain (CNS)
Iodine is known to be essential for the development of the brain. Cretinism, a severe form of mental retardation with physical difficulties as well, is caused by severe iodine deficiency in the mother during pregnancy. It is the best known of the Iodine Deficiency Diseases and is still a problem in much of the world. Many suspect that lesser forms of mental retardation are also caused by iodine deficiency.
Iodine and the Heart
Iodine is essential for the heart. The thyroid hormones (which are molecules containing iodine) have major effects on the heart and circulatory system.
Iodine and the Immune System
Iodine is accumulated by the immune system, especially by neutrophils during phagocytosis (engulfing of bacteria and other foreign bodies). A potent antimicrobial system is created with a peroxidase, hydrogen peroxide, and a halide. This system is highly effective against bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other micro-organisms. During this process, iodoproteins such as monoiodotyrosine (T1) are created.
Iodine and the Gastrointestinal System
Iodine is concentrated in the stomach and is being studied in relationship to stomach cancer. Iodine is also important in the production of stomach acidity, bowel movements, and candida.
Iodine and the Skin
Much of the body's iodine is found in the skin. Moreover, iodine can be absorbed through the skin. Exactly what the iodine is doing in the skin and the various factors that affect transdermal absorption are not yet clear.
Iodine and Hormones
In addition to thyroid hormones, iodine also affects other hormones. Iodine affects estrogen metabolism, reported to transform estrone and estradiol to estriol. Iodine affects the ovarian production of estrogen and also affects estrogen receptors (at least in the breast).
Iodine and the Ovaries
Ovaries concentrate iodine and have NIS symporters. Ovarian iodide uptake varies with sexual activities and is enhanced by estrogens. Iodine deficiency is related to ovarian cysts and ovarian cancer.
Iodine and the Lungs
There is a long history of the therapeutic use of iodine for lung issues. It has been used in asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. It is presently being studied in lung cancer.
Iodine and the Eyes
Iodine occurs in large quantities in the ciliary body and lachrymal glands of the eye. It has been related to cataract formation and glaucoma, and is seen as useful in treating eye infections. Iodide has been found to be protective against UVB radiation.
Iodine and the Mouth
The salivary gland concentrate iodine 20 to 100 times serum levels. The function of the iodine in the saliva is not yet clear. Povidone-iodine is used as a disinfectant in dentistry for periodontal issues.
Iodine and Bones
Several studies have now shown a relationship between iodine and bones.
Iodine and the Blood
Iodine has been studied as an antioxidant in human blood and has been found to be as powerful as Vitamin C.
Iodine in nature
Some of the most fascinating work on iodine has been in the field of evolution, where scientists have been researching how iodine came to be concentrated by certain parts of the body.
Join Dr. Group for a special one hour webinar as he reviews its benefits and how you can supplement yourself with Iodine rich foods.
Iodine and Disease
There is increasing evidence that iodine deficiency is related to a variety of disease conditions.
hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, goiter, autoimmune issues, and cancer. There is a great
deal of controversy over what effects iodine has on these conditions. The amount of iodine
appears to be critical, with either too little or too much iodine having undesirable effects. At
this point, there is strong disagreement about how much iodine is optimal.
Iodine deficiency is strongly implicated in cancer including thyroid cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer. Researchers have been investigating molecular iodine (I2), apoptosis, NIS gene insertion, DNA methylation, and various other mechanisms that may be involved in various stages of cancer development and treatment.
Cann has hypothesized that iodine deficiency can have deleterious effects on the cardiovascular system, and correspondingly, that a higher iodine intake may benefit cardiovascular function. Thyroid hormones (T4, T3, and probably also T2, and T1) are important to the heart.
Multiple Sclerosis belongs to a family of diseases that seem to be linked to iodine and selenium deficiency. Thyroid hormones are connected with re-myelination.
Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, with links to the thyroid autoimmune diseases. Flechas discusses conditions under which iodine is likely to be useful in the treatment of diabetes.
It is possible that iodine is effective in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus and AIDS-associated opportunistic infections.
An article from 1913 discusses nascent iodine for lupus.
Iodine has been advocated for the treatment of Lyme Disease.
Sjogren's Syndrome is closely related to the thyroid autoimmune diseases and may have other links to iodine.
The research on iodine and disease is in its early stages with much speculation. There is still a great deal of controversy about which forms of iodine are best in which disease conditions and how much iodine is too much. Still, a great deal has been learned.
Obviously, this is a research and educational website. We are not giving medical advice. This web site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please find a qualified health practitioner for personal consultation on any disease condition.