SUPPLEMENT - MINERALS
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What is iodine and what does it do?
How much iodine do I need?
Birth to 6 months
Infants 7–12 months
Children 1–8 years
Children 9–13 years
Teens 14–18 years
Pregnant teens and women
Breastfeeding teens and women
What happens if I don’t get enough iodine?
What are some effects of iodine on health?
Fetal and infant
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need to get enough iodine for their babies to grow and develop properly. Breastfed infants get iodine from breast milk. However, the iodine content of breast milk depends on how much iodine the mother gets.
To make adequate amounts of iodine available for proper fetal and infant development, several national and international groups recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women and infants take iodine supplements. The American Thyroid Association recommends that women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding take a daily supplement containing 150 mcg iodine as potassium iodide. The American Academy of Pediatrics has similar guidance. However, only about half the prenatal multivitamins sold in the United States contain iodine.
Severe iodine deficiency during childhood has harmful effects on the development of the brain and nervous system. The effects of mild iodine deficiency during childhood are more difficult to measure, but mild iodine deficiency might cause subtle problems with neurological development.
Giving iodine supplements to children with mild iodine deficiency improves their reasoning abilities and overall cognitive function. In children living in iodine-deficient areas, iodine supplements seem to improve both physical and mental development. More study is needed to fully understand the effects of mild iodine deficiency and of iodine supplements on cognitive function.
Although not harmful, fibrocystic breast disease causes lumpy, painful breasts. It mainly affects women of reproductive age but can also occur during menopause. Very high doses of iodine supplements might reduce the pain and other symptoms of fibrocystic breast disease, but more study is necessary to confirm this. Check with your healthcare provider before taking iodine for this condition, especially because iodine can be unsafe at high doses.
Nuclear accidents can release radioactive iodine into the environment, increasing the risk of thyroid cancer in people who are exposed to the radioactive iodine, especially children. People with iodine deficiency who are exposed to radioactive iodine are especially at risk of developing thyroid cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved potassium iodide as a thyroid-blocking agent to reduce the risk of thyroid cancer in radiation emergencies.
Can iodine be harmful?
Birth to 12 months:
Children 1–3 years:
Children 4–8 years:
Children 9–13 years:
Teens 14–18 years:
Where can I find out more about iodine?
1. National Research Council, Committee to Assess the Health Implications of Perchlorate Ingestion. Health Implications of Perchlorate Ingestion . Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2005.
2. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc . Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.
3. World Health Organization. United Nations Children’s Fund & International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Assessment of iodine deficiency disorders and monitoring their elimination . 3rd ed. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO, 2007.
4. Patrick L. Iodine: deficiency and therapeutic considerations. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Jun;13(2):116-127. [PubMed abstract]
5. Zimmermann MB. Iodine deficiency. Endocr Rev. 2009 Jun;30(4):376-408. [PubMed abstract]
6. Zimmermann MB, Jooste PL, Pandav CS. Iodine-deficiency disorders. Lancet. 2008 Oct 4;372(9645):1251-1262. [PubMed abstract]
7. Health information data from U.S. National Institutes of Health
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