Did you know there’s one simple mineral that we need every day that most of us never get? There was a time when it was considered a “cure all”, but we’ve forgotten all about it in favor of prescription drugs, and as a result, rates of cancer are skyrocketing, obesity is epidemic, and our energy levels have plunged. That mineral is iodine.
Iodine is one of nature’s most amazing minerals. Unfortunately for our health, it is one that has been largely forgotten. But it wasn’t always that way.
Before the widespread use of synthetic drugs, iodine was recommended for everything: healing wounds and disease, destroying bacteria and viruses, and possibly even preventing cancer.
But new pharmaceuticals brushed iodine aside, and we see the result – high rates of cancer, thyroid dysfunction, and a build-up of toxins in our bodies – many of them from the foods we eat and water we drink.
Where Did Iodine Go?
Iodine as a medicine was once very common, but dietary iodine intake in many parts of the country was historically quite low. It wasn’t until after the First World War that medical professionals advocated for iodine enrichment in the diet.
Because most of us think we get enough iodine from table salt, it’s easy to forget that iodine was added to salt to reduce incidence of goiter (enlarged thyroid gland) back in the 1920s. And that worked, for a while.
But in the 1940s, a single paper written by two researchers completely changed the way we use iodine. This poorly documented paper gave the impression that iodine use was not only archaic and unnecessary, but could even be dangerous, citing hyperthyroidism as a side effect. Almost overnight, the use of iodine in medicine was stopped and in its place we have a fear of one of the most important and critical nutrients in our diet. Iodine costs just pennies a day. With the advent of modern drugs in the 1940s and 1950s, could the profits realized by the drug companies have a bearing on discrediting the use of iodine for hypothyroidism?
Compounding the issue is the fact that people have cut back on table salt at home, and the nature of processed foods. Most food manufacturers don’t use iodized salt, and their products – especially frozen pizzas, appetizers, and processed meats – are laden with unhealthy types of sodium instead.
That’s because chlorine, fluoride, and bromide – which lower iodine levels in the body by blocking iodine receptors – are increasingly consumed from foods or through environmental exposure.
Chlorine is now used to purify water instead of iodine. Fluoride is almost universally found in toothpaste and drinking water. And bromide replaced iodine in commercial baked goods over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, these minerals aren’t just toxic for your thyroid – they’re dangerous for your health overall. Fluoride is a problem because it blocks the ability of the thyroid gland to concentrate iodine and bromide can cause depression, headaches, and even hallucinations.
Additionally, consuming soy and gluten blocks thyroid function and inhibits the uptake of iodine. You find these ingredients not only in obvious sources like soy milk and wheat breads, but also as hidden ingredients in many processed foods. They are another reason why we are so deficient in iodine.
Iodine is Making a Comeback – And We Need It!
Fortunately, not everyone has forgotten what this amazing mineral can do. Integrative medical practitioners and other holistic-thinking individuals are bringing iodine back. And science is recognizing iodine’s great value, too. Researchers suggest that boosting iodine consumption could improve thyroid health, lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer and fibrocystic disease of the breast, and promote overall well-being.
Of course, our minimum daily requirement is still set far too low – only 150 micrograms (mcg) per day. This is enough to prevent goiter, but not enough for truly beneficial health effects. And there’s nothing scary about getting more iodine in your system. After all, people in Japan consume more than 12 mg – 12,000 mcg – of iodine per day. That’s 50 times more than the average American, and it hasn’t hurt a bit.
In fact, life expectancy in Japan is just over 83 years old, while in the United States it is about 78 years. The infant mortality in Japan is half of that of the United States, too. And, America faces almost three times the number of deaths from breast cancer than Japan.
Studies have noted a connection between thyroid abnormalities and breast cancer, and iodine intake may be a factor. Today, one in eight American women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Compare that to thirty years ago, when iodine consumption was much higher, and one in 20 women developed breast cancer. Women in Japan who consume high amounts of dietary iodine have much lower rates of breast cancer and thyroid problems. However, when women emigrate from Japan to the United States and begin eating a Western diet, with its fractional amount of iodine, their breast cancer and thyroid disease rates increase dramatically.
Iodine Helps Stop Cancer
Iodine’s anti-cancer functions are one of its most important benefits. Scientific tests using estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells exposed to iodine have shown that they are less likely to grow and spread. Fibrocystic breast disease, which creates swelling, tenderness, and discomfort, is also a common concern. In other clinical research, approximately 70% of patients experienced relief of pain and reduction in abnormal tissue with iodine supplementation. In patients with mastalgia – breast pain – at least 50% of the women had significant reductions in breast pain after taking 6 mg of iodine each day.
In another study, 98% of women receiving iodine treatment were pain-free by the study’s end, and 72% had improvements in breast tissue.
Why Iodine Can Help Prevent Breast and Prostate Cancer
Iodine works so well for breast health because it makes breast cells less sensitive to estrogen, and detoxifies toxic halogens – bromide, fluoride, and chloride. It’s important that you help your body flush out these harmful elements: one study found that breast cancer patients had double the bromide levels compared to non-cancer patients.
For the same reasons, iodine helps prevent the hormonal imbalances that leave some men more prone to prostate cancer. After all, women and men are equally subject to the estrogen-like chemicals so prevalent in modern packaging, home and office furnishings, and foods.
Terry Lemerond Author and Educator, has 40 years experience in the health food industry as an owner of several health food stores and nutritional manufacturing companies. Follow him at Terry Talks Nutrition.
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