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Iodine’s role in child growth, metabolism, and fertility

 Iodine’s role in child growth, metabolism, and fertilityIodine is involved in the body’s production of thyroid hormones, and we humans need plenty of iodine throughout life, especially during periods such as fetal development and child development. Iodine is also important for brain development and cognitive skills. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy and during a child’s first years of life may result in stunted growth and/or mental retardation, but there has been uncertainty about how a minor iodine deficiency affects the child before and after birth. In a review article that is published in Nutrients, the authors look closer at iodine’s role in fertility and child growth. Apparently, iodine deficiencies are quite common, and we even need selenium and other nutrients to secure a well-functioning thyroid gland.

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Overview of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids


Overview of vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids

Vitamins, minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and Q10 are nutrients that we need in certain quantities in order to support vital body functions.
Nutritional supplements containing vitamins and minerals must be labeled in accordance with the reference values.

This overview serves as general information about the different vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids and how they work.

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the Vitamin and Mineral Guide

Iodine (I)

Iodone is an essential trace element. An adult contains around 20-50 micrograms of iodine with 2/3 of the total supply being stored in the thyroid gland. The only known function of iodine is that it supports the two thyroid hormones that control all metabolic processes in the body. The thyroid hormones are named T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), depending on how many iodine atoms they contain. T3 functions substantially faster than T4, which is considered a precursor. Selenium is also an essential constituent of enzymes that regulate thyroid hormonal activity. Among other things, it works by removing an iodine atom, whereby the passive T4 hormone is converted to the active T3 hormone. If too little T3 hormone is produced, the metabolic rate slows down. If too much T3 is produced, the metabolic rate speeds up. For that reason, it is vital that there is enough iodine and selenium to ensure the right balance.

Functions and importance for

  • The two thyroid hormones T3 and T4
  • The body's metabolism
  • Child growth
  • Energy turnover
  • Weight control

Deficiencies and poor utilisation may be caused by

  • Insufficient diet (especially if it lacks fish and shellfish)

Deficiency symptoms

  • Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
  • Low metabolism accompanied by fatigue, slow heart rate, chills, and weight gain.
  • In rare cases, hyperthyroidism (increased metabolic rate) accompanied by heart palpitations, unrest, elevated blood pressure, increased appetite, and weight loss.
  • Children: Goiter, dwarfism, or mental retardation
  • Pregnancy: Fetal damage


Mainly maritime sources like seaweed, fish, shellfish, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sea salt. Other sources are dairy products and eggs.
A good way of preventing goiter is to add iodine to table salt. Iodine-enriched salt is also found in bread from bakers and industrially baked bread.

Iodine content in micrograms per 100 grams

Seaweed 36,000
Mussels 140
Salmon 65
Whole eggs 21
Fruit and vegetables 0.2-1

Recommended daily allowance (RDA)

Adults: 11 years of age and older: 150 micrograms
Children: 1-10 years of age: 70 micrograms
Pregnancy and lactation: 175 and 200 micrograms (respectively)

Increased need

  • Growing children
  • Elderly people
  • Pregnant women
  • Vegetarians and vegans

Important information

It is possible to have goiter and hypothyroidism (low metabolism) without being iodine deficient. Thyroid problems may also be caused by lack of selenium, which is needed to regulate the thyroid hormones.
Heating reduces the iodine content in food.

Overdosing - side effects

Humans can tolerate relatively large quantities of iodine. However, prolonged intake of excessive amounts may block the production of thyroid hormones and cause hyperthyroidism (too high metabolic rate) or hypothyroidism (too low metabolic rate). Pregnant and lactating women should be particularly careful, as an overdose may impair the thyroid function of the child.

Weight loss pills that contain large amounts of iodine may harm the hormonal balance in the long run.

Radioactive iodine (e.g. after nuclear disasters) may accumulate in the thyroid gland and cause serious damage and cancer. The damage can be limited by taking iodine tablets (potassium iodide)

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