07 June 2011

Iodine and the thyroid gland

Overweight? You've probably wondered whether this is due to a thyroid problem. Find out more about the important role played by iodine in regulating thyroid metabolism.

If you struggle with weight problems you have probably wondered if this is because you have a thyroid problem. In this article we have a look at thyroid functions and the important role played by the trace element iodine in regulating thyroid metabolism.

The first attempts to supplement the diets of school children and so prevent goitre in France in 1860 failed miserably because the dose of iodine that was prescribed was so high that the children developed symptoms of iodine poisoning.

  • Anyone who uses table salt in South Africa should theoretically not be prone to developing goitre or hypothyroidism (having said this, always remember to use table salt in moderate quantities and not to overdo your salt intake, which can lead to problems like kidney damage and high blood pressure)
  • Anyone who is allergic to iodine (and there are quite a few people who suffer from an iodine allergy), should ask their chemist for table salt that is not iodised (this may seem unfair to those people who now have to pay extra for their table salt, but the reasoning behind the blanket supplementation of table salt is that the majority of people in South Africa will benefit)

  • stimulate oxygen consumption. This function is also called the calorigenic action which immediately indicates that this hormone increases the use of oxygen in practically all body tissues and helps to burn fuel stores and release energy
  • help to maintain body temperature and prevent us from feeling cold
  • stimulate the heart to beat faster
  • help convert beta-carotene to vitamin A in the body
  • stimulate milk production during breastfeeding
  • help to ensure that nerve impulses are transmitted through the nervous system quickly and efficiently
  • have a dramatic effect on the normal development of the brain while in the foetus is still in womb, and on children during childhood.
  • are essential for normal menstrual cycles and fertility
  • increase the rate of carbohydrate absorption out of the digestive system
  • lower cholesterol levels in the blood
  • play an essential role in normal growth and development of infants and children


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