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Iodine, a trace mineral and nutrient, helps the thyroid gland produce vital hormones.

What are its health benefits?

Your body does not store iodine, so you must get it from your diet. Used topically, iodine solutions act as antiseptics and can kill bacteria and fungi.

Its other reported benefits include:

  • Both underactivity (hypothyroidism) and overactivity (hyperthyroidism) of the thyroid gland respond well to high doses of iodine.
  • Iodine helps prevent cretinism, a syndrome characterised by permanent brain damage, mental retardation, deaf mutism, spasticity and short stature.
  • It may help prevent breast cancer and shows promise as a treatment for breast cancer.
  • After radiation, iodine protects against thyroid damage and may prevent mouth irritation brought on by chemotherapy.
  • It may help treat foot ulcers resulting from diabetes.

Do you have a deficiency?

It’s reported that approximately 40 percent of the world’s population remain at risk for iodine deficiency. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental and developmental disabilities worldwide. Every year, millions of children are born with learning problems because their mothers did not get enough iodine during pregnancy, deficiency can lower a child’s IQ by between 10 and 15 points.

This deficiency can occur in areas that have iodine-poor soil and if you’re not getting enough in your diet. Women are more likely than men to suffer from a deficiency and it’s more common in pregnant woman and older children.

Iodine deficiency symptoms include:

  • An enlarged or sluggish thyroid
  • Gaining weight for no clear reason

It can cause the following medical conditions too:

  • Goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland)
  • Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid)
  • During pregnancy, it can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, preterm delivery and congenital abnormalities in babies.

Find it in these foods

Iodine can be found in the following food sources:

  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Seaweed
  • Dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Grains
  • Iodised salt (table salt with iodine)
  • Plants grown in iodine-rich soil

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

A typical daily dosage for adolescents and adults is 150mcg.

During pregnancy, women need higher amounts. Consult your Clicks pharmacist about which amount is best for you and your children.

Those who suffer from thyroid problems should not use iodine supplements.

Know the overdose risks

It may cause the following side effects:

  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Headache
  • Runny nose

If you supplement with more than 1 100mcg it can be dangerous and impair thyroid function, amongst other health issues.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015