What is iodine?
Most of you reading this have most likely already heard of iodine. You’re probably used to seeing those Morton salt boxes labeled as “iodized,” and ominous warnings required by the Food and Drug Administration on natural sea salt warning that the salt “does not provide iodide, a necessary nutrient.”
Iodine is a trace element needed to produce thyroid hormones that regulate your metabolism. Without enough of it, your body can’t produce thyroid hormones, and without the proper level of thyroid hormones, your body simply won’t work to its full potential.
It’s like a car with a dysfunctional gas pedal. You may have plenty of gas in the tank, but if you can’t signal the engine to use that energy, the gas is useless. It’s the same thing with iodine. Without the proper amount, your body won’t be able to send signals to regulate your hormone and cell activity, leading to a very wide variety of diseases. Some of those conditions include suppressed energy levels, brittle nails, sallow skin, thinning hair, and many other indirectly related issues.
Help! The soil is deficient! Enter the government.
Unfortunately, due to a combination of modern industrial farming and other natural factors, most of our soil is deficient in iodine. Consequently, most people can’t get enough of it from their diet. The government has responded by promoting the addition of chemical forms of iodine in salt and in animal feed.
OK, so should I just eat lots of Morton’s salt, then? (The answer is no.)
So, it would seem like all you need to do to get the iodine you need is just buy iodized salt, and you’re all good to go. Unfortunately, as with many other things relating to diet and nutrition, things aren’t quite that simple.
The problem with the iodine in iodized salt is the chemical form it’s in (potassium iodide). Potassium iodide is not the ideal form of iodine to be absorbed by the human body. Also, the amount in salt is probably not sufficient to counter all the iodine blocking foods and chemicals we consume (for example, chlorine and goitrogens like soy).
Where should I get my iodine, then? Chug it pure? (The answer is also no.)
The best form of iodine is protein-bound iodine, which can ONLY be found in food sources. It can’t be replicated in a lab. One of the highest concentrations of this form of iodine is found in brown seaweed. The beauty of protein-bound iodine is that you can consume a ton (well, not literally), and flood your system with it. Despite this, your body will only send enzymes to break down the amount it needs. On the flip side, if you take pure iodine that’s been synthesized in a lab, you risk overdosing.
In conclusion, seaweed is pretty much the best iodine source out there.
So, if you eat a reasonable or even large amount of seaweed, you won’t overdose on iodine. You’ll only get the amount you need. Seaweed also contains one of the highest concentrations of iodine in the world.
The challenge is how you consume seaweed. Seaweed in its raw form is way too hard for your body to digest, and cooked seaweed loses a lot of nutrients like iodine. The best way to get seaweed in your diet is our seaweed supplement Modifilan. This is because it goes through a low temperature “pre-digestion” that breaks down its fibers and makes it more digestible. Check it out here.