Recognizable by its deep violet color, iodine is a trace element that the body requires but cannot produce on its own. This makes it essential for well-being and a necessary part of every person's diet.** Needed in only small amounts, the micronutrient aids the thyroid gland in producing hormones, specifically thyroid hormones triiodothyronine and thyroxine (T3 and T4, respectively).** This trace element is also a key component of many other functions related to health and wellness, including lactation, digestion, salivation and skin health.**
A lack of sufficient iodine can result in severe health issues, including thyroid malfunction that may result in an enlargement of the gland, also known as a goiter. To ensure adequate iodine intake in their respective populations, the United States and many other countries have been iodizing table salt since the early 20th century. Despite this measure, however, approximately 1/3 of the world's population still does not receive enough of the nutrient.
In certain inland mountainous regions of the globe, iodine deficiency is prevalent, particularly in women. Studies have shown that the majority of females in various parts of northern India, for example, don't meet adequate levels of the nutrient, leading to hormone imbalance and thyroid issues that can adversely affect pregnancy and overall wellness.
Most food doesn't contain this element, though it is found in some fish, dairy and soy products, along with commonplace iodized salt. One of the most predominant sources of the micronutrient is sea kelp, which features notable amounts. While other forms of seaweed may feature iodine, kelp generally ranks among the highest in terms of content, since it naturally absorbs this and many other nutrients from the ocean. Iodine supplements are often sourced from this abundant natural source.
In addition to its links to the thyroid and hormonal benefits, the nutrient is associated with maintaining optimal blood pressure balance that is already within normal range.** Iodine supplements have also been investigated for their ability to encourage healthy cognition, particularly in fetal brain development.** Recent research has further posited that the element supplies antioxidant activity.**
Iodine supplements, which are most often sourced from sea kelp, are available in a wide variety of forms, including tablets, capsules and liquids. The trace mineral may be naturally present in red mineral algae products, as well. The nutrient is also commonly offered as a part of the compound potassium iodide and as an ingredient in complexes that focus on thyroid support.** Lugol’s solution is an early iodine supplement, still widely used today, that blends iodine and potassium iodide and suspends them in plain water. The mineral is also regularly added to table salt.