The following article will give you a better understanding of the most common uses for iodine as a supplement. Iodine is an essential micronutrient that’s readily available in a wide selection of foods and in dietary supplements.
12 Uses for Iodine
Iodine plays an important role in your health, particularly related to energy and metabolism. It is also used widely in society for its many benefits. Below are the top uses for iodine!
1. Neutralizes Radiation Exposure
Potassium iodide has been used to help individuals exposed to radioactive forms of iodine that are released during nuclear events, such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. Potassium iodide works by flooding the thyroid with a safe form of iodine and preventing radioactive iodine ions from being absorbed by the thyroid.
2. Acts as a Sterilizing Agent
Whether they’re used in the hospital or your everyday first aid kit, many sterilization products contain iodine. It is an effective wound cleaner that eliminates germs on the skin and is often applied before and after surgery.
Iodine tablets, in the form of tetraglycine hydroperiodide, are considered the safest way to sterilize water on backcountry camping and hiking trips. However, the use of these tablets can reduce thyroid function, so they’re best used only for temporary, emergency situations.
3. Promotes Thyroid Health
Eating foods that provide enough iodine is a must when it comes to supporting your overall thyroid health. The thyroid gland, which is located in the neck, requires iodine to produce metabolic hormones that are used throughout the body.
People who are iodine deficient can experience fatigue, brain fog, lowered immune system health, and other symptoms. An extreme iodine deficiency can produce goiter, a swelling of the thyroid gland in the neck. If you don’t get enough iodine in your diet, a supplement can fill the gaps in your nutritional requirements and support a healthy thyroid.
4. Supports a Normal Metabolism
If you have an overactive thyroid, your metabolism may speed up, leading to weight loss and other issues. If you have an underactive thyroid, the opposite can happen, leading to weight gain. Normal iodine levels ensure the smooth functioning of the thyroid gland, which, in turn, regulate metabolism.
Iodine is a vasodilator, meaning it encourages normal blood flow; thus, it can also warm the body and steady the heart rate. If you’re trying to boost your metabolism, your iodine intake is just one of the factors you should consider.
5. Deters Harmful Organisms
As helpful as iodine is for the human body, it’s not gentle on harmful organisms.[3, 6] There are some commercially available 1 percent iodine-povidone throat gargle solutions that are helpful for a cough or a sore throat since iodine can nix germs causing these symptoms. Iodine was once used as an expectorant of mucus in cough medicines, but few contain it in modern times.
6. Forms a Cornerstone of Breast Health
Much research is underway on the role of iodine in breast health and function.[8, 9, 10, 11] In addition to the thyroid gland, breast tissue contains high amounts of iodine.
Iodine, an essential nutrient for a child’s proper growth and brain development, is passed on to children through breast milk. Because many nursing mothers are deficient in iodine, it’s especially important to be aware of your nutritional intake and alter your diet accordingly to receive all the nutrients your body requires.
7. Encourages Ovarian Health
Research suggests a possible link between a lack of iodine and ovarian concerns, such as cysts and other reproductive issues.
Interestingly, low levels of iodine intake are thought to create a cascading series of hormone changes that lead to a hyper-estrogen state, which is linked to poor ovarian, endometrial and breast health.
8. Sharpens Neurological Health
Infants and young children can experience mental deficiencies and disabilities due to a lack of iodine. As a preventative measure, it is important that mothers get enough of this micronutrient throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
If that’s not achievable with food alone, I recommend using a safe and effective nascent iodine supplement.
9. Supports Vaginal Balance
A povidone-iodine solution may reduce the vaginal irritation, itching, and discharge associated with recurring yeast imbalances with excellent success rates.
10. Promotes Eye Health
A lack of iodine can cause dry eyes, and iodine is used to address a number of different eye conditions. Since iodine is a broad-spectrum antiseptic, it is used around the world to prevent blindness in newborns. Povidone-iodine drops are often used pre- and post-surgery to keep germs out of the eyes and prevent infections. It is also a natural protectant against UVB radiation in the eyes.
11. Encourages Healthy-Looking Skin and Hair
Iodine is commonly included in skincare products to help promote a clear complexion. Iodine is also a nutrient that supports healthy-looking hair. In fact, healthy development of skin, teeth, and bone all depend upon normal thyroid hormone levels, which depend on an adequate supply of iodine.
12. Powerful Antioxidant
Regarding its antioxidant activity, iodine is as effective as vitamin C. Specifically, it is a strong antioxidant for the blood. Learn more about the benefits of antioxidants.
Tips for Taking Iodine
Although it’s best to get your nutrition from food, supplements can help where an imbalanced diet falls short. Taking an iodine supplement is a safe and effective way to ensure you get the iodine your body requires. I recommend nascent iodine, which is one of the most bioavailable forms, which means the body readily absorbs it.
Everything You Should Know About Iodine
Length: 60 minutes
- Iodine: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 9 Jul 2019. Accessed 1 Aug 2019.
- "Guidance: Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies." FDA.gov. Dec 2001. Accessed 4 Apr. 2018.
- Bigliardi PL, et al. "Povidone iodine in wound healing: A review of current concepts and practices." Int J Surg. 2017;44,260-268.
- Georgitis WJ, et al. "An Iodine Load from Water-Purification Tablets Alters Thyroid Function in Humans." Mil Med. 1993;158(12);794-797.
- Ahad F, Ganie SA. "Iodine, iodine metabolism and iodine deficiency disorders revisited." Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2010;14(1):13-17.
- Berkelman RL, et al. "Increased bactericidal activity of dilute preparations of povidone-iodine solutions." J Clin Microbiol. 1982;15(4),635-639.
- Sugumar R, et al. "Absence of Iodine/Iodide in Cough/Expectorant Medications: A True Disclaimer or not?" Indian J Nucl Med. 2018; 33(1):84-85.
- Aceves C, et al. "The Extrathyronine Actions of Iodine as Antioxidant, Apoptotic, and Differentiation Factor in Various Tissues." Thyroid. 2013; 23(8),938-946.
- Ghent WR, et al. "Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast." Can J Surg. 1993;36(5):453-460.
- Rappaport J. "Changes in Dietary Iodine Explains Increasing Incidence of Breast Cancer with Distant Involvement in Young Women." J Cancer. 2017; 8(2):174-77.
- Stadel BV. "Dietary iodine and risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian cancer." Lancet. 1976; 1(7965),890-891.
- Dorea JG. "Iodine nutrition and breast feeding." J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2002;16(4):207-220.
- Yu H, Tak-Yin M. "The efficacy of povidone-iodine pessaries in a short, low-dose treatment regime on candidal, trichomonal and non-specific vaginitis." Postgrad Med J. 1993;69 Suppl 3:S58-S61.
- Isenberg SJ. "The Ocular Application of Povidone-Iodine." Community Eye Health. 2003;16(46):30-31.
- Schmut O, et al. "Iodide protection from UVB irradiation-induced degradation of hyaluronate and against UVB-damage of human conjunctival fibroblasts." Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2004;242(4):279-283.
- van Beek N, et al. "Thyroid Hormones Directly Alter Human Hair Follicle Functions: Anagen Prolongation and Stimulation of Both Hair Matrix Keratinocyte Proliferation and Hair Pigmentation." J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93(11),4381-4388.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.