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Iodine, the Goiter Belt, and your thyroid

NO iodine in the soil = NO iodine in the plants = NO iodine in the people consuming plants from that region

The upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions were once known as the “Goiter Belt” because of the prevalence of enlarged thyroid glands that gave the afflicted visibly swollen necks due to an iodine deficiency. The soil in this region is known for being mineral deficient (for over a century!), and this may be due to industrialized agriculture practices and environmental pollutants. Wait, WHAT?!?!

During the early 1900’s chemists made the iodine/thyroid goiter connection and at that point recommended the distribution of naturally iodized salt for public consumption (to add iodine back into table salt). If you don’t know, table salt IS technically sea salt but striped of ALL minerals, and the only mineral that now gets re-added is iodine due to it’s very important and necessary health benefits. This has helped the region tremendously over the past couple decades but can only do so much. Iodine is a mineral the body NEEDS and the thyroid NEEDS to function (the thyroid gland is actually made of iodine!), yet one of the only minerals the body CANNOT CREATE itself. Now in a world where everyone is trying to cut out their salt intake (and may not be using iodized salt to begin with) we are back to having a huge goiter/thyroid problem due to the mineral deficiency. Iodine deficiency is still extremely common is the green states, and approximately 40% of the world’s population remains at risk for iodine deficiency.

SYMPTOMS of iodine deficiency:

  • Thyroid enlargement (sometimes called “goiter”)

  • Improper thyroid function (Hypothyroidism &/or Hashimoto’s)

  • Slowed brain function

  • Slowed metabolism

  • Lowered immunity

  • Emotional upset and anxiety

  • Soreness or heaviness of breasts

What can happen as a result of an iodine deficiency:

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Hashimoto’s (autoimmune disease, enlarged thyroid and nodules)

  • Compromised organ function

  • Mental imbalances such as depression and anxiety

  • Pregnancy related problems such as miscarriages, stillbirth, preterm delivery, congenital abnormalities, mental retardation and problems with growth, hearing, and speech

  • Mental retardation (in extreme cases, and particular in children of mothers who have had an iodine deficiency)

  • Fetal hypothyroidism (improper functioning of the thyroid in unborn children, leading to brain damage)

  • Autism

OK, that’s some pretty scary and alerting stuff! I never knew how important iodine is!!! It’s alright, there are a couple of things you can do to add iodine into your diet but first you need to find out if you have a deficiency. Below is an easy way to gauge whether you may or may not get enough iodine in your diet. This is only meant as a guide and if you’ve done this test and are concerned then you need to go to your family doctor and get urine tested for a deeper dive into if you even have an iodine deficiency, or how severe your deficiency is, and decide together whether or not you need to supplement.

Iodine deficiency home testing:

  • Get a solution or tincture of iodine (the orange solution, not the clear one, it’s in the first aid area of the drug store or grocery store).

  • Paint a 3-inch by 3-inch square on your abdomen, inner thigh or inner forearm. Allow it to dry before touching anything, as it will stain.

  • Monitor the patch over the next 24 hours for color changes. Pay attention to is how long it takes for the iodine patch to disappear. If the patch still exists 24 hours later, the results are normal. If the patch disappears or mostly disappears in less than 24 hours, it is supposed to indicate some degree of deficiency. In fact, significant lightening or disappearance in less than 18 hours is said to indicate moderate to severe iodine deficiency. (For reference, mine disappeared within 4 hours!!!!! )

The US recommended daily intake of iodine is 150 micrograms (mcg) per day for most adults, and about twice that for pregnant and nursing women. This level of iodine intake prevents goiter, mental retardation, and all the associated problems with iodine deficiency.

Iodine rich foods

Obviously as discussed above, the easiest way to get your iodine is by using iodized salt or sea salt. BUT, I’m going take it even further and HIGHLY suggest that you switch to Himalayan Pink Salt which contains 84 essential minerals required by the human body…including natural IODINE!!!

Unfortunately the FDA does not require food labels to list iodine content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient , which can be a little frustrating, but here is a chart with some of best food sources of iodine that you could add to your diet.

Just over a year a go I realized I wasn’t getting enough vitamins and minerals, I had realized our soil is not as nutrient or mineral dense as it once was/could/should be and started drinking Shakeology to fill that gap, as it has 23 vitamins and minerals, along with MANY other beneficial ingredients (see below). It just so happens that Shakeology has 52mcg of Iodine that’s directly from Kelp (a type of seaweed and one of the best food sources of iodine), thank goodness for this, because this low dose has kept me afloat as I am seriously not getting enough iodine from anywhere else. After the extensive research I’ve done I realize I obviously do not eat nearly enough of the above aforementioned foods (and have almost cut added salt out completely AND our salt wasn’t iodized!), and even those food’s mcg’s are relatively low. If you’re taking a multi-vitamin, make sure it’s one that includes iodine. I do not take a multi-vitamin anymore, my Shakeology IS my multi-vitamin and I’d totally rather have a milkshake than take a pill. I WILL be talking to my doctor about whether or not I should be taking an added iodine supplement…it’s VERY important to talk to your doctor before taking ANY supplement!

Shakeology is made from WHOLE FOODS and has NO artificial sweeteners, NO artificial colors, NO soy (a known endocrine disruptor), NO artificial stimulants, and NO artificial flavors! It is a TOTAL nutritional shake. It’s gluten free (although made in a facility that manufactures gluten) and we have VEGAN flavors available!

I hope you have found this knowledge useful and are encouraged to visit your doctor to get an iodine deficiency test ASAP…especially those with thyroid issues, as this may be a leading cause of your disease. I always thought my issues were from what I was eating, now I’m starting to think it’s what I’m NOT eating!!!

Want to trial a 5 day trial of Shakeology? Order here: Shakeology Sampler and Vegan Shakeology Sampler

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This site offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is designed for educational purposes only. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting any fitness or nutrition program. The views and opinions expressed in my blog are my strictly own. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, nor replace current medical treatment or drugs prescribed by your healthcare professional. It is your responsibility to educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician or self advocate. Please seek professional help when needed.

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