thyroid

How iodine accelerates weight loss by supporting the thyroid gland

Saturday, June 25, 2005 by: Dani Veracity

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If adjusting your diet and exercising more hasn't helped you reach a healthy body weight, you may have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid gland. In addition to weight gain, other symptoms of hypothyroidism include a bad complexion, fatigue, forgetfulness, loss of sex drive, impotence, irritability and unhealthy hair, nails and teeth. Fortunately, you can help normalize an underactive thyroid gland by increasing your intake of the mineral iodine.

"The healthy functioning of the thyroid is essential to maintaining metabolism and preventing the accumulation of body fat," writes Burton Goldberg in Alternative Medicine. An underactive thyroid gland slows your metabolism; you thus burn dramatically fewer calories and feel sluggish. In addition, in Asian Health Secrets, Letha Hadady explains that an underactive thyroid gland promotes excess weight and cellulite by causing water retention.

After-effects observed following thyroid removal surgery helped prove the connection between the thyroid gland and metabolism to the medical community. For example, according to Gayle Reichler's book Active Wellness, thyroid removal caused one patient to gain weight daily and feel that her "system had slowed down considerably." Unless your thyroid has been completely removed or damaged, your symptoms will not be quite so severe; however, even moderate hypothyroidism can make you gain weight and body fat.

Iodine makes up less than a hundred thousandth of a percent of your body weight, but your thyroid cannot function without this trace mineral. If you have too little iodine in your diet, hypothyroidism and weight gain will occur. "I believe that an insufficient intake of organic iodine in today's modern diet has led to a serious and chronic form of low-grade hypothyroidism," writes Donald R. Yance, Jr. in Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer. Increasing your iodine level will allow your thyroid function and metabolic rate to return to normal.

You can add iodine to your diet by taking supplements, but beware: Excessive thyroid function resulting from excess iodine is just as detrimental to the human body as hypothyroidism. You should have normal, moderate amounts of iodine in your body. In Food and Healing, Anne Marie Colbin provides a caution: "Considering that we are already ingesting large qualities of this mineral because of its presence in fertilizers and table salt, the situation (your iodine level) definitely bears watching."

Because of this danger, Earl Mindell recommends kelp, which naturally contains iodine, as an alternative to iodine supplements in pill form. "Kelp has a normalizing effect on the thyroid gland. In other words, thin people with thyroid trouble can gain weight by using kelp, and obese people can lose weight with it," Mindell writes in his Vitamin Bible for the Twenty-First Century. Whichever form of iodine supplementation you choose, however, you must also be sure to get enough vitamin A in your diet. According to Goldberg, without sufficient vitamin A, your thyroid gland cannot produce thyroxin, a hormone that helps the thyroid absorb iodine.

If you believe that you have a thyroid problem, then by all means, go to a doctor or other medical professional. On the other hand, if you just haven't been exercising enough or following a healthy diet, don't put blind faith into iodine supplements as an easy and effortless way to lose weight. "Iodine itself will not help with weight loss if there is normal thyroid function," writes Dr. Elson M. Haas in Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Unless you do indeed have abnormal thyroid function, there is no substitute for exercise and a healthy diet.

The experts speak on iodine and the thyroid:

Iodine was first discovered in 1812 in kelp. Elemental iodine was extracted from the seaweed and was named iodine because of its color, which means violet in Greek. Iodine occurs naturally as iodide or iodate salts. It is a crucial part of the thyroid hormones, which, in turn, play a vital role in the production of energy. Iodine deficiency is still the major cause of hypothyroidism in the world. Deficiency of thyroid hormones really slows you down. Symptoms include chronic fatigue, apathy, dry skin, intolerance to cold, weight gain and enlargement of the thyroid (goiter).
Vitamin And Mineral Encyclopedia by Sheldon Saul Hendler MD PhD, page 145

This amazing seaweed contains more vitamins (especially Bs) and valuable minerals than any other food! Because of its natural iodine content, kelp has a normalizing effect on the thyroid gland. In other words, thin people with thyroid trouble can gain weight by using kelp, and obese people can lose weight with it. In fact, one of the most widespread fads for many years has been the kelp, lecithin, vinegar, and B6 diet. Kelp has also been used by homeopathic physicians in the treatment of obesity, poor digestion, flatulence, obstinate constipation, and to protect against effects of radiation. It is reported to be very beneficial to brain tissue, the membrane surrounding the brain, the sensory nerves, and the spinal cord.
Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century by Earl Mindell, page 185

Goiter is usually associated with hypothyroidism, which is decreased thyroid function that leads to slower metabolism, fatigue, weight gain, sluggishness, dry hair, thick skin, poor mental functioning, decreased resistance to infection, a feeling of coldness, and a decrease in sexual energy. More advanced hypothyroidism may worsen these symptoms as well as create a hyperactive, manic state and hypertension, which is paradoxical because this may occur with an overactive thyroid as well. Iodine by itself usually will not cure goiter and hypothyroidism but often will slow their progression.
Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M Haas MD, page 196

Needed only in trace amounts, iodine helps to metabolize excess fat and is important for physical and mental development. It is also needed for a healthy thyroid gland and for the prevention of goiter. Iodine deficiency in children may result in mental retardation. Excessive iodine intake (sometimes as little as 750 micro-grams daily) may inhibit the secretion of thyroid hormone and can produce a metallic taste and sores in the mouth, swollen salivary glands, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Prescription For Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A Balch CNC and James F Balch MD, page 29

The thyroid gland depends on iodine, which is found in food, to manufacture thyroid hormone. It doesn't take much. The iodine in your body makes up less than 0.00001 percent of your body weight. But your thyroid can't do its job without even this tiny amount of this trace mineral.
New Foods For Healing by Selene Yeager, page 529

Herbs for weight reduction are generally either diuretic or mildly purgative. Large amounts of kelp or other seaweeds are sometimes used because their high iodine content stimulates the thyroid gland, which assists weight loss through increased metabolism.
Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra CA ND, page 108

I believe that an insufficient intake of organic iodine in today's modern diet has led to a serious and chronic form of low-grade hypothyroidism, a major contributing factor to breast and ovarian cancers. Even a mild low thyroid function can cause an imbalance of other hormones, such as estrogen, progesterone, and androgen, hormones that play a pivotal role in reproductive health as well as in the prevention of cancerous and noncancerous tumors, such as fibroids and fibrocystic breast disease. Low thyroid function frequently coincides with low adrenal function—what I call a "hypo-overall endocrine system"; it's just not working up to speed. This condition manifests itself in many ways, including fatigue, low energy during the day, insomnia, low body temperature, very low blood pressure, low-grade depression, dry skin, dry hair, pear-shaped figure, weight gain, infertility, PMS, sensitivity to cold (particularly the extremities), calcification buildup, hardening of the arteries, cystic breasts and/or ovaries, and cancers of the breast and ovaries.
Herbal Medicine Healing Cancer by Donald R Yance Jr, page 161, 85

Iodine, a trace element, along with tyrosine, an amino acid, is required for the manufacture of thyroid hormones. A deficiency of iodine, though difficult to document, probably exists in some hypothyroid dogs. Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs are sluggishness, dull hair coat, weight gain, increased cholesterol, and generalized malaise. In people, a goiter is seen in the neck area where the thyroid enlarges to compensate for the decreased iodine intake. Some goiters are not due to a simple iodine deficiency. Over activity of the thyroid gland is called hyperthyroidism. In cats this is sometimes accompanied by a goiterous swelling. In humans, it is called Graves' Disease.32 In both, the condition is life threatening with a sharp increase in metabolism. We will discuss treatments for thyroid disorders in chapter 10, which covers endocrine diseases.
Healing Pets With Nature's Miracle Cures By Henry Pasternak DVM CVA, page 56

Iodine is essential for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. An iodine deficiency can lead to a sluggish thyroid, which can result in fatigue, weight gain, and puffiness under the chin. Good food sources include iodized salt, seaweed, onions, and seafood. The RDA is 150 micrograms for adults.
Earl Mindells Soy Miracle Earl Mindel RPH PHD, page 120

How can you tell if you are deficient in iodine? A sluggish feeling — due to the fact that your thyroid is not producing enough thyroxine for your metabolism to work at normal speed — is one clue. Other symptoms are a bad complexion and unhealthy looking hair, teeth, and nails. If your thyroid function degenerates into official hypothyroidism, in which perhaps only one-quarter of the thyroxine your body needs is present, you may suffer from chronic fatigue, forgetfulness, lack of interest in sex, impotence, overweight, and irritability. Should you notice any of these symptoms, consult your physician. He or she may suggest a prescribed iodine supplement, which in the early stages of thyroid malfunction could solve your problem.
Complete Guide Health Nutrition by Gary Null, page 410

Vitamin A facilitates the efficient absorption of nutrients by strengthening the lining of the digestive tract. Along with vitamins C and E, it bolsters the immune system and thus makes the body more resistant to infection from parasites and yeast overgrowth, two common causes of weight gain. Vitamin A is also necessary for the production of thyroxin, a thyroid hormone, and helps the thyroid to absorb iodine; a key nutrient. The healthy functioning of the thyroid is essential to maintaining metabolism and preventing the accumulation of body fat.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 830

An inefficient thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) can be the cause of sluggish metabolic rate, says Dr. Birdsall. And while it is possible that laboratory tests will not indicate the existence of hypothyroidism, other tests, such as basal body temperature, and symptoms, such as chronic constipation, fatigue, feeling cold, and a tendency to gain weight, may point to subclinical hypothyroidism. When metabolism slows, the body will store rather than burn calories, causing an accumulation of fat. Insufficient thyroid hormones and the consequent slowing of metabolism affects nearly every function in the body and several of these have a direct connection to weight problems.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 822

An underactive thyroid can encourage water retention, leading to excess weight and cellulite. Low thyroid function has recently been linked with lethargy and depression. If you tend to have slow digestion and elimination, excess catarrh, or sinus trouble, and generally feel down in the dumps during humid weather, seaweeds high in potassium, calcium, and iodine are for you.
Asian Health Secrets by Letha Hadady DAc, page 188

Two minerals that are vital are potassium and iodine, they are essential to proper thyroid maintenance. Since the thyroid is responsible for metabolism rates, any interference in its operation can actually inhibit our ability to remain thin. When a thyroid malfunction occurs, the rate at which calories are burned is dramatically decreased.
Complete Encyclopedia Of Natural Healing by Gary Null PhD, page 166

It is of course possible to eat too much seaweed. This leads to an excess of minerals in the body, which can negatively affect certain organs, especially the skin and the thyroid gland. In one case I observed kelp tablets caused a series of welts on the arms and face; apparently the body couldn't handle the excess concentrated minerals and simply pushed them out through the skin. (The problem disappeared when the kelp was discontinued.) Thyroid problems can arise from an excess of iodine as much as from a deficiency. Considering that we are already ingesting large quantities of this mineral because of its presence in fertilizers and table salt, the situation definitely bears watching. Early warning symptoms of an excess of iodine might include underweight, hyper-activity, rough skin, acne, mental and emotional imbalances, and a "spaced-out" feeling. (It is interesting, I think, that a fast-food "junk" meal of hamburger, french fries, and chocolate shake provides 200 percent of the RDA of iodine. Bad news, perhaps, for acne sufferers.)
Food And Healing by Anne Marie Colbin, page 189

KELP and BLADDERWRACK are two of the best weight-reduction plants available. Iodine in Kelp maintains a healthy thyroid, thereby significantly reducing one major cause of obesity.
Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine by Daniel B Mowrey PhD, page 281

Iodine has also been used to help increase energy level and utilization in cases of fatigue, mental sluggishness, and weight gain caused by hypothyroidism. Iodine itself will not help with weight loss if there is normal thyroid function. If weight gain results from iodine deficiency causing decreased thyroid activity, this hypothyroid condition may be improved with iodine followed by thyroid supplementation.
Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M Haas MD, page 196

This seaweed was the original source of iodine, discovered in 1812. The weight reducing reputation of bladderwrack is probably due to its effect on an under-active thyroid. The main herbal use of bladderwrack is to remineralize the body. External compresses and plasters are used to reduce the inflammation and pam of arthritis.
The New Age Herbalist by Richard Mabey, page 78

Iodine is also indirectly responsible for obesity. The thyroid and sex glands work together, and if an obese person is given iodine as contained in plants, for example, kelp tablets, the thyroid steps up its hormone production. This, in turn, activates the entire metabolism. The gonads become more active and, as a result, the deposits of body fat decrease.
The Nature Doctor by Dr H.C.A, page 162

The best sources of dietary iodine, an essential mineral, can be found in seafood and iodized salt. Many people experience symptoms of thyroid dysfunction as they age, such as weight gain, lack of energy, poor mood, etc. Iodine has been shown to inhibit thyroid cell growth in vitro and in animal models. When applied in the form of a topical cream, povidone-iodine's antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects have been well established in the scientific literature. Topical iodine has also been shown to be a useful treatment for wound healing.
Ultimate Anti Aging Program by Gary Null PhD, page 174

Since the thyroid gland controls metabolism, and iodine influences the thyroid, an undersupply of this mineral can result in slow mental reaction, weight gain, and lack of energy.
Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century by Earl Mindell, page 90

Selenium works with vitamin E to help boost your pet's immune system and help prevent heart disease and cancer. It also works with iodine for proper thyroid function.
Vitamin Bible for the 21st Century by Earl Mindell, page 379

Since the thyroid gland controls metabolism, and iodine influences the thyroid, an undersupply of this mineral can result in slow mental reaction, weight gain, and lack of energy.
Vitamin Bible By Earl Mindell, page 78

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